By: Aidee Alcántara Sánchez

Traveling is feeling that tingle in your stomach to explore new experiences, it is rebuilding your beliefs about those places you have longed to visit and when we add one more variable to this equation they metamorphose into memorable moments; in my case that variable was the house of my favorite writer: Jane Austen; we have grown up with stories like Pride and Prejudice, Emma or Persuasion, which combine the realism of the Georgian era, love and marriage stories in an English setting.

My trip had started a couple of weeks before through Europe, but finally we specifically arrived at London Heathrow airport, since there are others in the surroundings. It is worth mentioning that England is a country that has a surprising organization in terms of transport, from paying everything with a card without having to exchange currency, the punctuality of the transport at the stops, to the signaling of the route of each of the buses; It became one of the easiest places to get around like a local, and I loved that.

I had heard many urban legends about the English, however, all the people are very friendly and try hard to help you, because when I got to the ticket machines for transportation they helped me guide me on how to get to a small town called Alto, where less than 20 thousand people live and it is not a very touristy place, except for those like me, who love to read, so I had selected my first stop in this country to visit Jane Austen’s house.

We took a bus from terminal 5 to Woking, it was December so it was cold to the bone, luckily there are some booths that allow you to dodge the weather a bit while they wait, however the trucks go by quickly and we missed the first one, which which delayed our travel plan for an hour (traveler hazards), so for the next one we were very attentive to avoid it leaving us again.

The driver was very nice because when he stopped, he got out to help us with our bags and welcome us, the journey is almost 30 minutes and he left us at the Woking train station, where we boarded him for an hour and 10 minutes, and 6 more stops we arrive at the city of Chawton, when leaving just to the right is the stop for bus number 64, which again we pay the driver with a card and take our seats towards Alton; This transport crosses the entire town, takes a narrow road surrounded by green fields and tranquility, until our Chawton Roundabout stop, at that moment we got off in the middle of nowhere, a small bridge on one side and a roundabout on the other, marked the map walk 10 minutes, I remember that I loved the view, but not a single house could be seen anywhere, so I started walking towards our Airb&b, which was located in front of our destination.

Once we passed the roundabout I began to see houses with a very English 18th century style, with each step I took my heart raced, and my excitement grew, when I came across a post indicating the way (there are signs from the roundabout). Turning around the corner, there was that building that I had consulted so many times on internet pages, and right in front of our hotel, so we left our bags to go to St. Nicholas Church, where the author’s father was performing the services, currently the mother and sister of the author rest, next to it is the castle of Chawton, which belonged to her brother.

The way to the Church and the castle, made me feel like I was in the Pride and Prejudice movie, the fields look so green, the sky a light blue, decorated with scattered clouds that cast shadows on the fields, while the sheep were grazing freely, the silence of the countryside provides immense tranquility, I could only think that this same path had been followed by the British novelist and had been the inspiration for several lines of her works that today, three hundred years later, have become classics.

The church of St. Nicholas is a beautiful building surrounded by nature, right at the entrance on the right hand side there is a statue dedicated to Jane Austen, the trees allow soft rays of sunlight to pass through and illuminate the field and decorate the statue, obviously We took a couple of photos before continuing to visit the tombstones of the author’s family, which are located next to the church. The pantheon is small but it exudes a tranquility, which allows you to walk around the area, while listening the singing of the birds and the soft movement of the leaves of the trees caused by the wind, then we continued our way to Chawton Castle, we had little time left before they closed their doors, so we could not visit it.

We return to Chawton to eat and visit the town a bit, walking from Alton is around 30 minutes, as there are not many places to eat in Alton. When I returned to the Airb&b I made some tea and sat by the window while I saw the house that I would visit the next day; It is worth mentioning that we bought the tickets two months before as they handle a maximum capacity of 12 people and since it is winter they are only open from Thursday to Sunday, so risking not being able to enter was not the option because we would continue on our way, the ticket has a cost of 12.75 pounds, that is, just under 300 Mexican pesos.

The next day we had breakfast and at 9:55 we were crossing the street to enter, since the opening was at 10 am, upon entering the property you are received in a room that today works as a souvenir shop, obviously everything is allusive to books of the novelist, we began our tour through the room of the small carriage that was used at that time, then to the kitchen with its huge oven, later we arrived at some gardens that were with a light layer of ice due to the low temperature of the December season, which accompanies you to the front door of the house, the now museum, is very well decorated with period furniture and various items belonging to the Austen family, the tapestries were reprinted recreating the originals, there are areas where they are covered with glass so that you can see the old tapestry. Being able to take the tour meant knowing many details about the author and, on the other hand, it shows us what it was like to live in that century, where women were raised for marriage, despite this social dynamic, Jane Austen, a young woman with access to books on his father, he was able to start writing from an early age.

In a corner of the house there is a small portrait, from which it is believed that the writer was inspired by her most famous work of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy; In the painting, the characteristic blue eyes of her character stand out. Each space in the house highlights beautiful spaces that transport us to another era, the original stairs are preserved and even some of the jewels that he most wanted, such as a ring, you can also find his family tree, and a chronology of his short life.

During my tour I had the opportunity to talk with a historian of the Austen family, passionate about the subject, we talked about several of her works that give us a beautiful vision of the customs and traditions of the eighteenth century, in addition to the fact that she was a unique woman in Her time, and how little she was recognized in her lifetime, was an incredible experience, plus England is more than just London, going deep into the towns allows you to explore a more intimate history of the country.


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