Painting of St Nicholas Church and Chawton House

Object name: Painting of St Nicholas Church and Chawton House

Object number: CHWJA:JAH37

Category: Objects

Description: Oil painting of Chawton House and Church. Oil on panel, measuring 21cm x 29cm. Mid nineteenth century English school.

Made: c.1850

Context: This painting shows St Nicholas Church in the foreground, and behind it Chawton House, nestling behind the trees.

Chawton House, an Elizabethan manor house with extensive grounds, was at the heart of the Knight family’s Chawton estate. It was inherited by Jane’s brother Edward, along with the estates of Steventon and Godmersham.

In 1809, after the death of his wife Elizabeth, Edward offered his mother and sisters a home in either Godmersham or Chawton. They chose Chawton Cottage, possibly for its proximity to the church, which is only half a mile from the house.

He mainly resided at Godmersham in Kent, but when he was in residence at Chawton Jane enjoyed walking up to ‘the Great House’ and paid regular visits to dine, drink tea or walk in the grounds.

On 14 June 1814 she wrote to Cassandra:

I went up to the Great House between 3 &4, & dawdled away an hour very comfortably’.

St Nicholas, Chawton parish church, is situated in the grounds of Chawton House. Jane and her family attended services there regularly, and it is where Mrs Austen and Cassandra are buried.

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