To plan the perfect Jane Austen Pilgrimage, you’ll need to know:
- What books should I read?
- What sites can I visit?
- And how do I get to each site?
I have compiled the answers to these questions below and linked to the websites you will need.
Books by Jane Austen to Read Beforehand:
- Sense & Sensibility
- Pride & Prejudice
- Mansfield Park
- Northanger Abbey
- Lady Susan
Disclosure: This is an affiliate link, meaning if you purchase a book through one of these links I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for supporting the businesses that help keep this blog going.
Jane Austen was born in 1775 in Steventon where her father was Reverend.
Confession: I haven’t visited Steventon. If anyone has been there, I’d love to know if there are any Jane Austen related sights and activities available today.
Austen lived in Bath for five years from 1801-1806. She was not particularly happy in Bath, however it is one of the most visited places associated with Jane Austen. One out of the three residences the Austen family lived in has been turned into a Jane Austen museum. You can eat at one of the restaurants frequented by Austen’s characters when in Bath. And you can visit one of the most recognizable filming locations from Austen movie adaptations.
Jane Austen Centre
The Jane Austen Centre was once a townhouse in which the Austen family resided for a time. Today it is more museum than historic house. The displays relate to Austen’s life in Bath, family life in Bath for people during the Regency period, and the characters and scenes set in Bath from her novels. You will also come face to face with a life-size wax representation of the author.
The Jane Austen Centre also has a tea room, however, I suggest heading to the next sight for afternoon tea instead.
The Pump Room
The Pump Room was the place to go to see and be seen by society in Bath during Austen’s time. She has set several scenes here in her novels, especially in Northanger Abbey.
“Every morning now brought its regular duties — shops were to be visited; some new part of the town to be looked at; and the pump–room to be attended, where they paraded up and down for an hour, looking at everybody and speaking to no one. “
The Pump Room is a dress-nice affair, however you can enjoy afternoon tea for a reasonable price. Put on your favorite tea dress, grab your favorite ladies, and have afternoon tea. If you’re lucky, there may even be live music while you eat.
The Royal Crescent has been used as a backdrop in several Jane Austen film adaptations. You can re-enact your favorite Austen scenes here and then check out the museum at #1 Royal Crescent to see how people lived in these town houses in the Georgian Age when Bath was at its heyday.
Jane Austen Festival
There is an annual Jane Austen Festival held in Bath, complete with period costumes and dances.
Confession: I haven’t been, but it’s on my bucket list. Have you been to Bath during the Festival?
When Austen’s father passed away she moved with her mother and sister to a house in Chawton on the grounds of her brother Edward’s inherited estate. The house the women lived in is now the Jane Austen’s House Museum while her brother Edward’s house is a rare book women’s library, also open to visitors. You can also stay on the former grounds of the estate during your visit.
Jane Austen’s House Museum
Jane lived with her mother and sister, both named Cassandra, in what is now the Jane Austen’s House Museum. The house has been furnished with time-period appropriate furniture and items of daily family life along side the few remaining known Austen artifacts. You’ll be able to see the small table where Austen sat to write the four novels she finished while living here.
Chawton House Library
Jane Austen’s brother Edward inherited Chawton House from the Knight family relatives. Today it is a rare book library of women’s literature. Just as Austen would walk to visit her brother, you too can make the short walk between the Museum and the Library where you can see displays about early female writers and the rooms where the Austen siblings would spend their days.
Where to stay: The Garden House Airbnb
The former residence of the Chawton House gardener now has rooms available on Airbnb so you can stay on the former Chawton estate during your visit. Spend at least a couple nights in Chawton and take a day trip to Winchester while you’re there.
When Jane Austen became ill enough to call a doctor, her family took her to nearby Winchester where, sadly, she passed away. She was laid to rest in Winchester Cathedral where you can visit her grave today.
#8 College Lane
The house where Jane Austen resided with her family during her finals days is located behind the cathedral. It is a private residence, but you can follow sidewalks lined with Jane Austen quotes to view the plaque on the outside above the door.
Jane Austen’s Final Resting Place is under a marble slab in the floor on the left side of the cathedral interior. The engraving on her stone does not mention her abilities as a writer, but later erected memorials pay tribute to her contribution to literature.
Jane Austen never lived in London, but there are a couple sights you may want to visit.
Jane’s portable writing desk has been entrusted to the British Library. It is often on display in the exhibit room.
While some writers and poets have been honored with a burial spot within Westminster Abbey, others have been honored with memorials when their remains lie elsewhere. Jane Austen remains at Winchester, but Westminster has honored her with a memorial in the section which is known as Poet’s Corner.
If you would prefer to avoid having to drive on the “wrong side of the road” in Britain, this pilgrimage route can be easily completed with public transportation.
- Take the train from London to Bath and/or Alton.
- Alton is the closest train stop to Chawton. Take a taxi or walk between Alton and Chawton.
- To take a day trip between Chawton and Winchester, take a taxi (23 minutes) or bus #64 (40 minutes).
- Bath, Chawton, and Winchester are all small enough to be walkable.
- The cheapest way to get around London is to take the Tube rather than above ground transportation. Get an Oyster Card and refill as needed. Using the CityMapper App will help you get around just like a local!