Jane Austen’s House Museum first opened to the public 70 years ago, on 23 July 1949. Since then it has welcomed over a million visitors and has become one of the most important and best-loved literary sites in the world.
The story of the Museum began in the 1940s when the newly-founded Jane Austen Society ran a fundraising campaign to save the house, which had fallen into disrepair. This caught the attention of Mr T Edward Carpenter, a London lawyer, who went on to buy the house for the nation in memory of his son who had been killed in action in WWII. He established the Jane Austen Memorial Trust to run the house as a museum.
This display of objects and stories throughout the house reveals how generations of devotees have gone about making the Museum the special place you see today. Learn the story of the Museum itself – from the first objects on display and the building of the collection, to the ways in which the house has been repaired, preserved and displayed over the last 70 years.
Visitors to the exhibition will also be amongst the first to view the recently discovered last lines of a Jane Austen letter, unearthed from within a nineteeth-century autograph album. A highlight of our Making the Museum exhibition, the album is on public display for the first time since surfacing at auction in 2017.
Jane Austen's House Museum, Chawton, GU34 1SD