Jane Austen - Life and times on the South Downs
A wonderful chance for Jane Austen fans to discover key places associated with the life of the world-famous author, from her birthplace at Steventon to her last resting place at Winchester. Enjoy the two houses in Chawton; the cottage in which she lived during her most creative years and Chawton House – home of her brother Edward Austen Knight which many believe gave her the inspiration for Donwell Abbey in Emma. Chawton’s churchyard has a bronze statue of Jane; her mother and sister are buried there.
- Visit Jane Austen’s cottage in Chawton
- Tour the city of Winchester
- Explore Chawton House - once home to Jane's brother
- High-quality Full Board en-suite accommodation and excellent food in our country house
- The guidance and services of our knowledgeable HF Holidays Leader, ensuring you get the most from your holiday
- All transport on touring days on a comfortable, good-quality mini-coach
- All admissions to places of interest that form part of your holiday itinerary, excluding National Trust and English Heritage properties
You're welcome to check-in to your room from 2:30 p.m. onwards (upgraded rooms from 1 p.m.) Please join us for afternoon tea.
The best place to begin any Jane Austen tour is at the cottage in Chawton, now a museum, where she spent the last eight years of her life and where she wrote or revised all of her major novels. The museum holds many interesting artefacts including Jane's turquoise ring, her writing table and letters to her family. In the afternoon we’ll explore the ancient cathedral city of Winchester to follow in her final footsteps.
We return to Chawton to see the splendid house owned by Jane's brother Edward Knight and referred to in her letters as ‘the Great House’. Adjacent to Chawton House is St Nicholas Church – a final resting place for Jane’s mother and sister. Their grave stones can be viewed at the back of the churchyard. There is also a bronze statue of Jane near the church entrance. From Chawton, we’ll travel to Steventon – Jane’s childhood home. Also nearby are the places associated with her life as a young woman: Ashe, Deane, Oakley Hall – all have their tale to tell, while the bicentenary statue at Basingstoke is well worth seeing.
Enjoy a leisurely breakfast before making your way home.
Tucked away in the village of Thakeham at the foot of the South Downs, Abingworth Hall has stood in one form another since the 13th century. Gutted by fire, it was rebuilt in 1910 in its current distinctive style. As well as 27 ensuite rooms the house has all the ingredients you need for the perfect country house stay: three comfortable lounges with squishy sofas to kick back in, the largest of which opens onto an attractive conservatory and bar in which to dally, great food and super-comfy rooms to retire to. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to walking here; go for a lazy amble around the wildlife rich chalk Downlands to discover a colourful tapestry of historic villages, thatched cottages, pastoral landscapes and vibrant market towns. Highlights of your stay might include the Seven Sisters, the Glorious Goodwood estate, the Devil’s Dyke and Chantonbury Ring, as well as Arundel and the National Trust property at Petworth. Take your pick.
Tea & coffee-making facilities, TV, Hairdryer, Toiletries, Wi-Fi
Stay in one of the Hall’s smartly presented rooms, which make use of every nook-and-cranny in the interesting architecture of this characterful house. With 27 bedrooms, Abingworth Hall has plenty of space and there’s a range of Good and Better Rooms to choose from. Clean and bright, with accent colours to offset the simple palette, the rooms are airy and light. Better Rooms might have a feature wall or strong print wallpaper as well as pretty tiles in the ensuite bathroom.
All ‘Good’ rooms are ensuite and furnished to a high standard. There are also several ‘Better’ Rooms that are either larger or have a desirable view, a more luxurious mattress, larger television, enhanced toiletries and a fluffy bathrobe & slippers – upgrade your stay for just an extra £15-20 per person per night. You can choose a specific room for an extra £30 per room, subject to availability. Upgrade supplements still apply.
Free Wi-Fi, boot room and drying room, extensive garden, outdoor swimming pool, multi-purpose activity room, three lounges, library and board games to borrow
After a day strolling on the South Downs, come back to the house and its specially tailored walkers’ facilities. Relax in the large gardens and sit by the pretty pond, turn your hand to croquet or practice on the putting green. Ease through a couple of lengths of the heated outdoor pool if you’ve still got energy to burn. Hole up in the light-filled conservatory with pretty views of the gardens or retire to the Drawing Room with its wood-panelled walls, log burner, library of books to browse and comfy seats to sink in to; there’s a telescope for you to scour the night sky too. In the evening, take your seat in the bar or join fellow guests in the large ballroom for the evening activity.
Food & Drink
As at all our country houses, holidays are full board, from afternoon tea served as a welcome treat through that evening’s meal to a hearty breakfast on the day of departure. Lunch is a chance to stock up on our famous picnic snacks. Food at Abingworth Hall is varied and tasty and has a strong emphasis on ingredients from the area and seasonal produce. Once a week the dining room, which has a giant brick fireplace at its heart, hosts a Local Food Night, when, over a sociable evening, you might try a five-course feast of local Sussex flavours. Look out for the Sussex Churdle, a traditional, meaty ploughboy lunch, local Chiddingly beef cooked with black olives and Sussex smokies, smoked haddock served in a prawn sauce. Cap it all with a Sussex Pond Pudding, a pud that’s part of the honourable tradition of British dishes with names to pique the interest more than the appetite, which is actually bright and zingy, suety and syrupy all at the same time
For accessibility and assistance information, please contact our expert team on 020 3974 8865
What to Bring
To enjoy your holiday comfortably and safely, it’s essential that your clothing and footwear is suitable for the conditions likely to be encountered. Changeable weather is possible throughout the year, so our advice is to come prepared for all eventualities – hot, cold, wet or dry.
All of our Heritage Tours involve active sightseeing and you should, therefore, be prepared for walking between the sights and wear flat, comfortable shoes. In the evening most guests wear casual clothing. You will probably find a small rucksack or cross-body bag useful for carrying spare clothing, a camera, sun protection, and drinks during the day.
Please be sure to bring your National Trust or English Heritage membership cards if you have them - admissions to sites owned by these two organisations are not included in the price of your holiday. If you are a member of an organisation which has reciprocal arrangements with National Trust or English Heritage, do be sure to bring your membership cards too.
Alban has spent a lifetime sharing his enthusiasm for literature with people of all ages: pupils in secondary schools, trainee teachers in a Faculty of Education and since 2012, a great many HF guests as well. He describes the three pillars of his life as his family, his football team and Shakespeare.
He also has a passion for travel and history, for mountains and moorland, for lakes and lochs, for landscapes and seascapes – as well as for HF leadership in Britain and Europe. After many years holidaying with HF as a walking guest, he is keen to ensure that those who travel with him enjoy their time together, explore new and interesting places and discover the fascinating stories always to be found there.
“Excellent. An impressive range of knowledge and a real love of the area and its history.”
Leader to Be Announced
We’ll announce the leader for this holiday shortly. Be assured that all of our expert leaders share one goal; to create an exceptional experience for our guests. We look forward to welcoming you on this holiday.
All holidays are subject to availability. Prices are subject to change.
Prices based on two people sharing. Supplements may apply.
Non-member fee: £10 per person.
|Date (Start - End)||Nights||Itinerary||Price||Status||Trip Notes||Book|
10 Jul - 13 Jul
|3||Heritage Tour||£449 £439||Save £10 Per Person||Trip Notes||Book Now|
07 Aug - 10 Aug
|3||Heritage Tour||£449 £439||Save £10 Per Person||Trip Notes||Book Now|
3 nights from £449pp £439pp
...or call 020 3974 8865