Chawton Jane Austen Literary walk

How to get there
Chawton is one mile southwest of Alton, signposted off the
roundabout at the junction of the A31 Winchester Road with
the A32 Fareham Road.
Public car park available in Chawton village.
Rail: Alton Station:
Bus: Service from Alton Station to Alton Butts:, then a 12 minute walk down
Winchester Road to Chawton village.
Jane Austen
A walk from
Chawton to Farringdon
Places to visit
Jane Austen’s House Museum.
Chawton House Library.
St. Nicholas’ Church, Chawton.
All Saints’ Church, Farringdon.
Cassandra’s Cup.
The Greyfriar.
The Rose and Crown, Upper Farringdon, passed on route.
The Golden Pheasant, Lower Farringdon, a short detour.
A range of snacks and meals are also available in Alton.
Further Information
Walks in East Hampshire:
Petersfield Tourist Information Centre: 01730 268829.
Follow the Countryside Code:
St. Swithun’s Way:
This leaflet was prepared by the late Anne Mallinson of the
former Selborne Circle of Rural Writers for East Hampshire
District Council. Revised 2014.
Jane Austen’s Letters, collected and edited by Deirdre Le Faye
Jane Austen’s House Museum for the front cover picture.
Ordnance Survey
Explorer Map 133
Haslemere & Petersfield
“…and the plan is that we should all walk
with her to drink tea at Faringdon”
Letter to Cassandra, 29 May 1811
Literary Walks
in East Hampshire
Points of literary interest
East Hampshire has a wealth of literary associations. The
literary walks have been devised to illustrate the work of six
important writers who were close observers of their natural
(and social) environment. Their combined experiences span
more than two centuries of East Hampshire life.
Jane Austen spent the last eight years of her life in
Chawton, from 1809 until 1817. The 17th century
house, now Jane Austen’s House Museum, is open to the
public. Here, where she lived with her mother and sister,
Cassandra, and their friend Martha Lloyd, Jane wrote or
revised her six great novels.
Wood Barn, a small isolated farm, has disappeared but
in Jane Austen’s time the farm provided poultry for the
table, as Jane recorded in a letter to her sister Cassandra,
who was visiting their brother at Godmersham in
Kent: “We shall have pease soon – I mean to have them
with a couple of Ducks from Wood Barn…” (Letter to
Cassandra, 31 May 1811.) And they did on the 7 June
that year, with the rector of Farringdon’s sister, Miss
Benn, who lived in Chawton, and Maria Middleton from
the ‘Great House’.
As you approach Jane Austen’s House Museum, you pass
thatched cottages on your left. Here by the roadside too
was once a considerable pond, which in “sad weather”
induced Jane to write rather dismally: “Our Pond is
brimfull and our roads are dirty and our walls are
damp, and we sit wishing every bad day may be the last.”
(Letter to Caroline Austen, 13 March 1816.) However,
the days themselves were not dull, as she ends the
letter with: “We have had a great deal of fun lately with
Post-chaises stopping at the door; three times within a
few days, we had a couple of agreeable Visitors turn in
This valley contains land springs which provide one of
the sources of the River Wey. Jane Austen wrote of it as “a
fine running stream…it is nothing but what beautifies us
and does to talk of.” (Letter to Alethea Bigg, 24 January
1817.) Sometimes there is no water to be seen, for the
Lavant stream is rather elusive.
c Edward, Jane Austen’s third brother, had taken the name
of Knight in 1812 to ensure he inherited the estate at
Chawton from distant relatives. This included the ‘Great
House’, as it was known. Jane often visited the house –
now Chawton House Library, particularly when Edward
and his family were in residence. “Aunt Cass: & I dine
at the Gt House today. We shall be a snug half dozen.”
(Letter to Fanny Knight, 18 November 1814.)
Gilbert White, the 18th century naturalist, lived at
The Wakes in Selborne (see Gilbert White’s Literary
Walk leaflet). Jane Austen refers to a special occasion of
‘Gaities’ on Selborne Common in which her own friends
and Gilbert’s nephew took part.
White was curate of Farringdon from 1761 to 1784, but
it is the Rev. John Benn, who held the living of All Saints’
from 1797 to 1857, who claims our interest here, for his
family were particular friends of the Austen’s and there
was much visiting between the two villages: “Harriet
Benn sleeps at the Great House to-night and spends tomorrow with us; and the plan is that we should all walk
with her to drink tea at Faringdon”
(Letter to Cassandra, 29 May 1811.)
From the poem My Dearest Frank, I Wish You Joy:
“Our Chawton home, how much we find
Already in it, to our mind;
And how convinced, that when complete
It will all other Houses beat
That ever have been made or mended,
With rooms concise, or rooms distended.”
J. A. Austen, 26 July 1809.
The route is about 4½ miles (2¾ hours).
The walk starts from the centre of Chawton (Jane
Austen’s village) on the outskirts of Alton; to the south
of the A31.
Jane Austen’s house (see a) is situated in the village
and there is a public car park opposite. The Greyfriar is
From the car park, turn left and follow the old road,
towards St. Nicholas’ Church which lies along the valley
on your left (see b). On the higher ground, behind the
church, the Elizabethan Chawton House can be seen
(see c).
In the churchyard, the graves of Jane Austen’s mother
and sister, Cassandra, can be found round the back of
the church. The building is Victorian, for the church was
rebuilt in 1871 after a disastrous fire.
Continue along the old road to its end and along a path
through trees. Cross a stile and follow a permissive path
(courtesy of Chawton House Library), parallel to the
busy road – a far cry from the days when this was the
Gosport turnpike road in Jane Austen’s time!
Cross a stile and turn away from the road. Cut diagonally
across the field and through Noar Copse, leading to
higher ground beyond. Keep straight on to the Berryhill
Here, at the highest point, you can look away, left, over
the countryside – and a line of pylons – to Gilbert White’s
village of Selborne, which Jane Austen knew (see d).
Continue along the track bordered by tall Wellingtonia
trees, which give way to yew trees as you descend into
Upper Farringdon. Turn left as you reach houses. Go
through the farm yard with Manor Farm House on your
left. Turn right to the Church of All Saints’ (see e). Enter
the churchyard via the lychgate.
From the church porch, walk across the churchyard into
the lane. Turn left then right into Crows Lane; you will
fairly soon reach the Rose and Crown.
Turn right and continue straight on between attractive
cottages on either side. Turn right into Church Road
and take the footpath on the right at the entrance to
Parsonage Close. On passing the playground, turn left
along the track to the A32. Cross this road with care and
follow the road opposite for a short distance.
A footpath leads off to the right just before the bridge.
Take this path down onto the disused Meon Valley
railway line which ran between Alton and Fareham. This
part of the route follows the St. Swithun’s Way.
Follow the track as far as it goes. Away on your left, the
wooded countryside rises to where Wood Barn once
stood (see f).
At the end of the old railway track, follow the field edge
towards a clump of trees. Carry straight on, then bear
right and follow the hedgerow back to the A32.
Cross the road with care, mount the steps and take the
stile opposite. Keep straight on with the belt of trees
on your right. Continue over the stile and into Ferney
Close. On reaching the old road again, turn left and
retrace your steps to the village (see g).
a Jane Austen’s House Museum
c Chawton House Library
St. Nicholas’
R ailway
Site of
Wood Barn
All Saints’ Church