Touted as “the most treasured Austen site in the world,” the Jane Austen House Museum located in Alton, UK is one of the final homes of “one of the most famous and beloved writers in the canon of English literature,” Jane Austen. It was in this 17th Century cottage that Jane Austen
published all six of her most beloved novels, and where she started her last, unfinished novel, “Sanditon.” A former steward's cottage, it was a gift of Jane's brother Edward Austen Knight to allow his mother and sisters to have a permanent residence on his Chawton estate. Jane Austen lived in the house with her mother, her sister Cassandra and a longtime family friend Martha Lloyd from 7 July 1809 until May 1817, when because of illness she moved to Winchester to be near her physician. She died in Winchester on 18 July 1817, though her mother and sister continued to live in the house until their deaths in 1827 and 1845 respectively. After their deaths, the house returned to the Chawton estate, to become the home of estate workers.
In 1940, Dorothy Darnell founded the Jane Austen Society with the aim of saving the house which had fallen into disrepair. The Society attracted the attention of a benefactor, T.E. Carpenter, who purchased the house for £3000 and endowed it to the nation as a memorial to his son, Philip. Mr. Carpenter set up the Jane Austen Memorial Trust to run the house as a museum, and in 1949, it was formally opened as a museum by the Duke of Wellington.
The house is now owned and run by the Jane Austen’s House Museum CIO, a registered charity, which has as its object, “the advancement of education and in particular the study of English literature and holds many of the first editions of Jane Austen’s books. Over the last years, many parts of the house have been restored, with the interior being restyled back to the time the Austens were in residence, and includes some of Jane’s furniture, textiles, and the table at which she wrote her beloved novels. Today, repairs and maintenance continue to be undertaken that will help to preserve the House for the many thousands of visitors each year
and for generations to come.