Spring exhibitions!

Our brand new spring exhibitions, free with House entry, open today!

We are thrilled to open two brand-new exhibitions today!

Travels with Frank Austen celebrates the 250th birthday of Jane’s older brother Admiral Sir Francis Austen, known to the family as Frank, and showcases two newly acquired objects: Frank’s handwritten unpublished manuscript biography and an album of watercolours and drawings from his global travels during his long career in the Royal Navy. Previously in family ownership, these objects go on display for the very first time, offering new insights into Jane Austen and her family through the lens of the brother most intimately connected with the domestic lives of the Austen women.

With thanks to the Friends of the National Libraries and the V&A Beecroft Bequest for their help with these acquisitions.

This year, we’re also celebrating the 210th anniversary of Mansfield Park, which Jane Austen wrote whilst living here.  In our dedicated exhibition Mansfield Park: Courting Controversy, guest-curated by literary historian Dr Timothy Moore, we explore the complex issues that have divided readers of Mansfield Park for over 200 years and invite you to decide for yourself – is this really Jane Austen’s most controversial novel?

This exhibition will unite the precious topaz crosses that belonged to Jane Austen and her sister Cassandra – a gift from their younger brother, Charles – with a letter written by Jane to Cassandra in May 1801 where Jane references the gift: ‘He has been buying Gold chains & Topaze Crosses for us – he must be well scolded.’ This generous brotherly act was to have echoes in Mansfield Park more than a decade later when Jane wrote of Fanny Price’s brother William buying her an amber cross. A rare first edition of Mansfield Park, along with various early illustrated editions, will also feature in the exhibition.

Travels with Frank Austen will run until 7 July 2024. Mansfield Park: Courting Controversy will run until 29 September 2024.  Both exhibitions are free with House admission!

If you can’t make it to Chawton, please enjoy the online versions of these exhibitions!