Walking Austen country
Jane Austen was a country girl – she spent most of her life in a couple of small villages in Hampshire, England – and even today the places she knew best are hard to reach by public transportation and difficult to discover without a guide.
Thus I was excited to learn this week that Destination Basingstoke, a non-profit dedicated to promoting “Hampshire’s most visited town” (is there much competition for that title?) has added a six-mile, self-guided “Jane Austen Historical Walk” to its slate of Austen-themed tourist attractions. An accompanying leaflet, which can be downloaded here, provides a map and directions and includes relevant quotes from Austen letters, plus some useful background about Austen’s life.
The walking tour begins at St. Nicholas Church in Steventon, where Austen’s father, the Rev. George Austen, was rector; proceeds past the empty field where Austen’s birthplace, the long-gone Steventon rectory, once stood; and moves on other places associated with the Austen family, including Ashe Rectory, home of Austen’s dear friend Madame Anne Lefroy. The whole thing sounds like quite the most delightful way to spend an autumn afternoon.
Oh, to be in England. . .