CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hampshire Life today CLICK HERE

Hampshire walk in the South Downs at Chawton

PUBLISHED: 11:36 01 August 2017

The Church of St Nicholas in Chawton © Steve Davison

The Church of St Nicholas in Chawton © Steve Davison

© Steve Davison

In memory of Jane Austen, who died 200 years ago, Steve Davison heads to Chawton for a wander in the South Downs National Park just south of Alton

The reason many people visit Chawton is the novelist Jane Austen, who spent the last eight years of her life in the village. The 17th century house, now known as Jane Austen’s House Museum, where she lived with her mother and sister is open at various times (jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk; 01420 83262). During her time here, Jane wrote and revised six of her world famous novels, namely Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion; the last three being fully written while living in Chawton.

From her former home the walk leads us along part of the disused Meon Valley railway that once ran between Alton and Fareham. Don’t worry if you happen to hear the sound of a steam train in the distance, it’s not a ghost train on the old line but one running along the nearby Mid-Hants Railway Watercress Line between Alton and New Arlesford.

Soon we leave the old track to arrive at Upper Farringdon, home to thatched cottages and the 12th century All Saint’s Church. For a time, the Selborne naturalist, Gilbert White, was curate here while a later incumbent, the Reverend Thomas Massey, was responsible for the unusual Massey’s Folly – the large red-brick and terracotta tiled building opposite the church.

After wandering through the village (the shorter walk misses out this loop) we head back towards Chawton, passing the Church of St Nicholas. In the churchyard are the graves of Jane Austen’s mother and sister, both of whom were called Cassandra (Jane herself, is buried at Winchester Cathedral). Next to the church is the rather grand Elizabethan Chawton House. The estate belonged to the Knight family for several hundred years and later in the 18th century Jane Austen’s brother, Edward Austen Knight – he had been adopted by Thomas and Catherine Knight – inherited the manor, after which his mother and sisters moved to the village; Jane was a frequent visitor to the estate, and some believe ‘Donwell Abbey’ in Austen’s Emma was modelled upon Chawton House.

The 400-year-old house is now home to the Chawton House Library, a charitable centre for the study of Early English Women’s Writing, with a collection of over 9,000 books. The house and gardens are open at various times (chawtonhouse.org; 01420 541010). From here it’s a short walk back to the car park.


Information

• Start/finish: Car park (SU708375) in Chawton (behind the Greyfriar’s car park); just east from the A31 / A32 junction at Alton

• Map: OS Explorer 133

• Distance: 5 miles (8.1km) or 3.75 miles (5.9km)

• Terrain: gentle ups and downs, tracks and paths, some gates and stiles, sections of road and two main road crossings

• Time: 2 hours without stops (shorter walk 1.5 hours)

• Refreshments: The Greyfriar (01420 83841) and Cassandra’s Cup tea room (01420 83144) both at Chawton

• More Information: To find out more about Steve, including his books, visit: steve-davison.co.uk

The walk

1 (SU708375) – From the car park exit back onto the village street with Jane Austen’s house opposite and Cassandra’s Cup tea room and The Greyfriar pub over to the right. Turn left, then immediately left again and follow the lane for 250m before turning right into Ferney Close. At the end of the cul-de-sac take the path between the houses, go through a gate and follow the enclosed path. Cross a stile and down steps before carefully crossing the A32, then go up some steps and through a gate. Keep ahead and soon bear left through a copse before going right and left to continue southwards between fields. Keep ahead along the shady track for slightly under a mile, passing under a bridge on the way. On reaching another bridge, go up steps to the lane and turn left to the A32.

2 (SU704354) – With care, cross the A32 and follow the lane opposite signposted for Manor Farm, to reach a cross-track junction after 600m (the short walk turns left here). Turn right between houses, then bear left along Parsonage Close to a junction. Turn right to a T-junction and go left along The Street. At the next junction, with a thatched cottage opposite, keep ahead along the enclosed path. Once in the field, turn left following the left-hand margin and then right, staying in the same field. At the kink in the field boundary, turn left over a stile and head north through the field.

3 (SU717355) – At the field corner turn right over a stile and follow the enclosed path to Stapley’s Farm. Turn left along the track to a lane. Turn left and just after All Saint’s Church – with Massey’s Folly on the left – turn right along the track to a junction. Turn left, soon passing a barn on saddle stones and keep ahead to reach the cross-track junction passed earlier. Turn right up the track and keep ahead down through the trees of Berryhill Plantation.

4 (SU707361) – Continue down through the field and then Noar Copse. Cross the stile and keep head across the field to two stiles in the far corner. Cross the one on the right to follow the enclosed permissive path northwards, parallel to the A32, crossing another stile on the way. At the end, cross a stile and continue straight on along the lane towards Chawton, soon passing a driveway on the right that leads to the Church of St Nicholas and Chawton House (short detour). Continue along the lane to arrive back at the start.

More from Out & About

Wed, 14:44

Savour spectacular views of the Needles and Alum Bay and discover history tales on this invigorating walk on the Isle of Wight

Read more
Mon, 12:35

With late-night shopping, fairs, Christmas markets and plenty of food and drink, we’ve rounded up some of the best festive offerings in Hampshire

Read more
Mon, 12:34

Havant a clue where to go or what to do? Here are some pointers to parks, paths and performances

Read more
Mon, 12:33

With its connections to Shakesepeare and royalty, the village of Titchfield is full of surprises

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

As the mellow fruitfulness of autumn takes hold across the New Forest, what could be better than spending a few days in and around Lyndhurst? We take a tour and come up with our top 8

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Hampshire is full of autumnal scenes this month, so we asked the county’s photographers to share their secret spots for stunning vistas

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Hampshire this month

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Remember, remember… Here’s a quick round up of some stunning displays across Hampshire this year

Read more
Monday, October 22, 2018

Is this the ultimate city break? Winchester has it all: from ancient history to space exploration, plus cafes, cocktails, culture and countryside… But with so much to do, choices are going to have to be made

Read more
Monday, October 22, 2018

Our guide to some of the best Halloween events on offer across Hampshire this October

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

The community shop is thriving. Why? And what makes the perfect village store? We went in search…

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

From Jane Austen to Karl Marx, our towns and villages have fascinating links to some of the biggest historical celebrities. Viv Micklefield follows in their footsteps with the help of a blue plaque or two

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

We round up 8 things you didn’t know about this little South Downs village

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Enjoy some easy walking around the Lymington to Keyhaven Nature Reserve says Fiona Barltrop

Read more
 
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Latest Competitions & Offers

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today


subscription ad

Local Business Directory



Property Search