2016 - Jane Austen’s house & Gilbert White’s house

Jane Austen's House & Museum at Chawton (photo: Nick Withers)

Gilbert White's House (photo: Peter Shipley)

May 2016 Jane Austen’s house & Gilbert White’s house.

Some 48 members of the Oxted & District History Society and their friends enjoyed their summer outing to Jane Austen’s house and museum at Chawton and Gilbert White’s home at Selborne, two nearby villages in Hampshire, organised by Peter Shipley. The group travelled by coach from Oxted and first toured the house given by Jane’s brother, Edward, to her, her mother and her sisters as a permanent home. The tranquil atmosphere at Chawton removed Jane’s writers’ block. There she revised earlier drafts and published ‘Sense & Sensibility’, ‘Pride & Prejudice’ and ‘Northanger Abbey’ and wrote ‘Mansfield Park’, ‘Emma’ and ‘Persuasion’ before her early death at the age of 41 in 1817.

The party then visited Gilbert White’s house and gardens at Selborne, the home of the pioneering English naturalist and ornithologist. Regarded as Britain’s first ecologist, Gilbert White (1720-93) helped shape modern attitudes and respect for nature. He wrote the ‘Natural History & Antiquities of Selborne’ which is still in print. The large house also contains rooms devoted to Lawrence Oates, who died on Captain Scott’s Antarctic Expedition in 1912 and Frank Oates, the 19th Century explorer of Africa and the Americas.