Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall visits Jane Austen’s HouseHer Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall made a special visit to Jane Austen’s House today!
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cornwall made a special visit to Jane Austen’s House today!
The visit comprised a tour of the House and a meet-and-greet with staff. Her Royal Highness was greeted by Director Lizzie Dunford and during the tour she met trustees Isabel Hughes and Professor Kathryn Sutherland.
In the House, Her Royal Highness viewed the Drawing Room, where Jane Austen herself read aloud from her very own copy of Pride and Prejudice the day before its publication in 1813; the Dining Room, where Austen wrote and where her precious writing table remains; first editions of Austen’s novels; two of Austen’s letters, both written at the cottage; topaz cross necklaces belonging to Jane and her sister, Cassandra; family portrait miniatures and the iconic Mr Darcy white shirt worn by Colin Firth in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, part of our current display on Regency underwear.
The roof at Jane Austen’s House has recently been restored, a big project that required numerous reclaimed, handmade clay roof tiles to be installed by specialist contractors. During the visit, Her Royal Highness met Giles Pritchard of Pritchard Architecture and Daniel Sweet of Clarke Roofing (Southern) Ltd who carried out the restoration.
Lizzie Dunford, Director at Jane Austen’s House says: “It has been a privilege to share Jane Austen’s House and some of the outstanding treasures of our collection with Her Royal Highness, from Austen’s writing table to the famous topaz crosses that inspired Mansfield Park. It was a delight to show Her Royal Highness around the House as she is such an avid reader and supporter of literacy. Her Royal Highness was fascinated by Jane Austen’s tiny writing table, the letters she wrote here and the first editions of her novels.
Jane Austen is one of the world’s most beloved authors, and her House is the most treasured Austen site. Here she lived for the last eight years of her life and her genius flourished. It is wonderful to know that with the help of Her Royal Highness’ The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room we continue to reach new audiences and to share Jane’s extraordinary life, works and legacy with the nation, and indeed the world.”
An avid reader, The Duchess of Cornwall has a strong interest in shining a spotlight on the importance of literacy. Her Royal Highness is Patron of several organisations which promote and support literacy, including: National Literacy Trust, Book Trust and First Story.
Her Royal Highness is also keen to promote the benefits of reading both to children and adults alike. The Duchess of Cornwall’s Reading Room is an Instagram community for book lovers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. It was inspired by the success of Her Royal Highness’s reading lists shared during the pandemic in 2020, and offers new seasons of book recommendations, as well as exclusive insight from the authors themselves. To find out more, follow @DuchessofCornwallsReadingRoom on Instagram.