England: Jane Austen’s House and Kensington Gardens

By Sunday, September 25, 2016 , , , , ,

The detailed posts of England have begun, and I’m recounting the trip day by day. After the delights of beautiful Derbyshire on Sunday, my mom and I managed to navigate the driving-on-the-left-side thing and actually returned our rental car without a scratch. We were pretty impressed with ourselves. We then took a train to London, where we stayed for the remainder of the week. But our sightseeing often took us an hour or so outside of the city, so we got good at the train and bus travel thing.

That said, Monday morning brought us to the train station, where we rode to the charming little village of Chawton to see the home of Jane Austen. People usually associate the city of Bath with Jane Austen, primarily because of the tourist-friendly Jane Austen Centre there. But I find this funny, as Austen was very open in her writing and letters about her dislike of Bath, and it’s well-known that she only lived there for about two years. This house in Chawton that we visited was where she passed the last eight or so years of her life and was also where she lived when she made major revisions to her books and then saw them published. The house is simple, quaint, and has been so amazingly well-preserved that it was like stepping into a time capsule. I’m so grateful for the glimpse it’s now given me into the life of this author who means so much to me.

View of the house from the road

The garden
There were bonnets and fans to try :)

There were also authentic quill pens to try. Took me about 10 dips into the inkwell just to write my name. Humbling!

Jane's piano :) 

Jane's writing desk :) Again, so humbling to think about all the writing she did with such modest tools!

I really liked this

Jane's room :)

Quilt and shawl that Jane made. Amazing to see how well-preserved things like this have been!

On a bench in the garden. Incredible to think that this little story was hand-written at this house more than 200 years ago. What would Jane have thought if someone had told her that people would still be reading it and visiting her house this long after she was gone? Okay, nerd moment over :)

After this lovely jaunt to Chawton, we made our way back to London for tea with the queen. Well, sort of. Kensington Palace and its adjoining gardens sit in a beautiful area of London that’s a true pleasure for walking and relaxation. The palace’s former greenhouse (of sorts, I think), has been converted into the Orangery restaurant, and their teas are simply fabulous. We got the afternoon tea and it was certainly one of the nicest afternoons we spent of our entire trip. The restaurant is thoroughly British, beautifully decorated, and as authentic as possible. Lovely classical music plays in the background, your tea and refreshments are served on intricately designed china, and you’re treated like royalty. I enjoyed every minute and felt thoroughly relaxed and pampered by the end of it. If you’re planning to go to London anytime soon, definitely make plans for this! Every bit worth it!


The lovely Orangery!

It just wouldn't be England without tea.


Complete authenticity. See what I mean about the gorgeous china?!


In my element


Mom got lemonade....am I more British than her?


The front of the Orangery


Kensington Palace!


The adjoining Kensington Gardens


It was such a pretty walk


This view was probably my favorite from the garden


The front of the palace with the Queen Victoria statue. Hyde Park sits directly behind where I was standing to take this picture and it was another lovely walking area! All in all, it was a beautiful and relaxing way to finish our second day. I suspect this will be a go-to place whenever I get back to London.

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