Family fun

Enjoy a virtual trip to Jane Austen's House with our online family resources - write a Regency letter, draw your own miniature portrait, read a Georgian recipe rhyme and design your own beautiful bonnet!

🎨 Make a Miniature

Portrait miniatures were a popular artform in the Georgian period.

They were quick to make and cheaper than larger portraits, so more people could afford them.

Before the development of photography in the 1840s, portrait miniatures were used as portable keepsakes for loved ones.

Because they were so tiny, they were not hung on the wall but could be held in the hand or carried around in a pocket. Some were set in jewellery such as a ring or necklace.

Here are some of the miniatures in our collection 👇🏽

Draw your own!

Painting in miniature is a special skill!

Try your hand at painting a miniature using our tiny frames. Print the sheet at A4 (download link below).

Use a mirror to look closely at your face before you draw or try drawing someone else – see how long you can make them sit still for!

✍🏽 Write a Letter

Jane Austen was a brilliant letter writer. Before phone or email, letters were the main form of communication when people were not nearby.

During her lifetime, Jane wrote thousands of letters! They looked a little bit different to the letters we know today. The main difference was they did not use envelopes. Instead, they wrote their letter on a folded piece of paper, folded it again and sealed it with wax.

They did not use stamps, instead the letter was paid for by the person who received it. The cost was based on how far it had travelled, and how heavy it was.

This is a letter written by Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra, from our collection 👇🏽

Write your own!

To write your own Regency-style letter, print our paper template on A4 paper (download link below).

Fold along the dotted lines to make a booklet, and write your letter on the cover and inside pages.

On the back cover, write the address and fold again. If you can, tuck one side inside the other.

Finally, seal your letter in some way – you could use a sticker or a piece of tape, or even a wax seal!

🖌️ Design a Bonnet

In the Regency era, both men and women wore hats a lot of the time – for women, this meant a cap, a headdress or a bonnet. In Pride and Prejudice, the Bennet sisters spend a lot of time decorating their bonnets – they would take them apart and then put them back together in a new way, or sew on new ribbons or accessories to match their outfit.

“Look here, I have bought this bonnet. I do not think it is very pretty; but I thought I might as well buy it as not. I shall pull it to pieces as soon as I get home, and see if I can make it up any better.”

Lydia Bennet, Pride & Prejudice

Design your own!

Print our bonnet crafting sheet on A4 paper (download link below) and decorate it using coloured pens and pencils – or make a collage with scraps, ribbons and craft bits and pieces!

Take inspiration from Lydia Bennet and make your bonnet as fabulous as possible!

🧁 Read a Rhyme

It’s always interesting to think about what people in history ate and drank. It’s one of the ways that we can understand their lives better.

We are lucky because Martha Lloyd, Jane Austen’s friend who lived with her here in Chawton, kept a wonderful handwritten ‘Household book’ full of recipes. It gives us some clues about what the Austen women liked to eat!

One of our favourite recipes from the book is called ‘A receipt for a Pudding’. It was written by Mrs Austen, Jane’s mother, and it is all in rhyme. The recipe is for a type of bread pudding, so you could try making it, but we think it’s lovely just to read aloud! Download it below👇🏽

We like to imagine Jane Austen enjoying this pudding. We know she had a sweet tooth – she is even thought to have coined the word ‘sponge-cake’!

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