Jane Austen House Museum

Chawton is of course famous for the fact that this is where Jane Austen did almost all of her mature writing.

Writing would have occupied a good deal of her time, but family life too had its pulls. The Austens were generally a close and loving family and there were frequent visits from brothers and young nieces and nephews. To these Jane and Cassandra were much loved aunts. Jane, in particular, would get involved with their games, making up stories and playing songs for them on the piano. She was herself an accomplished pianist and is said to have practised for two hours every morning before breakfast.

A daily routine would include, as well family meals, long walks and chatting and sewing in the evening. The rooms of the House and Museum, along with its garden, and with its prominent position at the heart of Chawton Village, all help to provide a tangible connection to the environment where the Austen family lived.

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The Watercress Line Steam Railway

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The Watercress Line Steam Railway (also known as the Mid-Hants Railway) was rescued by volunteers in 1973 and who still operate a busy timetable, travelling from Alton station through beautiful Hampshire countryside, through Ropley to the picturesque town of Alresford.

The service connects with the mainline rail services to London Waterloo, and the steam railway services depart from their own platform at the station.

The railway operates many special services, including Dinner trains, Real Ale trains, Thomas the Tank Engine and "War on the Line" which attracts many visitors in period costume.

Chawton House Library

The beautiful Hampshire village of Chawton is just 1.5 miles away. As well as the Jane Austen House Museum, Chawton has a village pub, The Greyfriars, St Nicholas Church and is home to the Chawton House Library.

Chawton House Library is a UK registered charity with a unique collection of books focusing on women's writing in English from 1600 to 1830. This specialist collection, set in the home and working estate of Jane Austen's brother, provides the opportunity to study and savour the texts in their original setting and inspires passion in readers of all ages.

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Guests come from around the world to visit this unique collection which includes work by Penelope Aubin, Frances Burney, Maria Edgeworth, Eliza Haywood, Hannah More, Ann Radcliffe, Mary Robinson... and Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, published in 1818.

There has been a church on the site of the current St Nicholas Church since 1270. Much of the building was destroyed fire in 1871, but many memorials were saved and are still on the walls. The church re-opened in 1872 and the tower was added shortly afterwards. A large number of the memorials relate to the Knight family, the forbears and descendants of Jane Austen's brother.

Gilbert White's House and The Oates Museum

Within just a few miles of Old Timbers Bed and Breakfast is the Hampshire village of Selborne where the naturalist Gilbert White lived and worked in the 18th Century.

Born in 1720, Gilbert White was one of the first people to begin studying nature in a scientific way, cataloguing and researching whatever interested him from this location. Today's house and museum is a fascinating experience where you can view the original manuscript of his "The Natural History and Antiquities of Selborne", published in 1789 which was a forerunner of Charles Darwin's work.

It is a lovely place to visit, where you will be taken on an insightful guided tour of the house, museum and gardens. There is a cafe and gift shop and it is still used for School field trips, as an impressive centre for field studies and biology.

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The House also contains a museum to the Oates family, who have 2 famous members, also connected with nature and adventure:

Frank Oates studied Natural Sciences at Oxford University in 1860 and went on to explore and research in Central America and later in Africa.

Captain Lawrence Oates (Frank's nephew) was an explorer who was part of Captain Scott's race to the South Pole in 1911 and who famously left the tent, walking to his death, with the words, "I am just going outside and may be some time".

Selborne is beautiful village to explore. You might enjoy a walk up Gilbert White's ZigZag path, cut into the hillside by GW and his brother in 1753.  The path takes you up onto Selborne Common, protected by The National Trust, which contains beech woodlands and is where the above photo was taken.

Historic Portsmouth

Portsmouth is the home of the Royal Navy and a visit to the Historic Dockyards is a great day out for all the family.

HMS Vistory.
Lord Nelson’s flag ship at the battle of Trafalgar where he defeated the French and Spanish Fleets and thus ensuring that Napoleon could not invade Britain. The Victory is currently undergoing restoration, so visitors have a unique opportunity to witness the process taking place on the world’s oldest commissioned warship.

HMS Warrior (1860).
The world’s first steam and sail powered iron hulled warship and last remain surviving member of Queen Victoria’s Black Battle Fleet. Explore this four deck ship and experience what it was like to be a sailor aboard a Victorian warship.

The new Mary Rose Museum
The new museum dedicated to Henry VIII’s flagship opened in May 2013. The new permanent home for the Mary Rose was built at a cost of £27 million and will reunite the ship with many of the 19000 artefacts and give the visitor an real insight into life on a Tudor warship.

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