Chawton House Library

The Project

Initiated by the Leonard X. Bosack and Bette M. Kruger Foundation in America, Chawton House Library is now seeking capital support to complete the restoration and refurbishment of the splendid manor house, its gardens and park.

Chawton House itself is being restored in order to fulfil a number of related aims.

West Elevation
Architectural elevation of west front

The core activity at Chawton House Library will be the study of its fine Collection of rare books in Reading Rooms which overlook the drive, Chawton House Stables and St Nicholas church reputed to be Jane Austenís favourite view from the house. Next to the Reading Rooms is a Common Room, with a small kitchen and toilet facilities.

Books will be fetched by Library staff from the stacks downstairs, where the collection can be housed in suitable conditions of security, temperature and humidity. Any member of the scholarly community or the general public will be able to apply to study at Chawton House Library, which is to be a non-residential reference library.

The Collection

Transport will be provided to link the house with neighbouring accommodation.

The Centre for the Study of Early English Womenís Writing will be housed on the top floor, where seven rooms are available for the Centreís administration, for projects within its publications programme, and for private study.

The main panelled rooms on the ground floor will be multi-purpose, providing the Centre and visiting groups with space for lectures and meetings, while also offering opportunities for social activities such as country balls in the Regency style. A smaller panelled room will house an exhibition on the history of Chawton House.

Five further meeting rooms of various sizes will also be available, above a period kitchen which is to be converted into a refectory.

Plan of the Estate
Plan of the estate

Garden archaeology has revealed much about the evolution of the Chawton estate, which includes a wilderness, a walled garden developed by Edward (Austen) Knight, and terracing in the style of Lutyens. Where appropriate, the landscaping is being returned to its design in the early nineteenth century, and barns and a farmyard are to be restored to the estate. Beyond the gardens the land has been returned to pasture and is grazed by sheep.

Walled Garden
The walled garden

Taken together, the main house, Chawton House Stables, the church, the gardens and the outlying grazing land represent a charming and sensitive historic site. Chawton House Library seeks to preserve the peace and beauty of the estate while sharing this precious heritage with visitors from Britain and around the world.

The Park
The park

Restoring the House

Home The Project
The Grounds The Centre
Funding Novels On-line
Events News Who's Who