Cassandra’s Orchard

2023 sees the 250th anniversary of the birth of Cassandra Austen, Jane’s beloved older sister. To mark this special anniversary we want to create a commemorative orchard in the courtyard of Jane Austen’s House to celebrate Cassandra’s life and her vital role in the creation of her sister’s novels.

We are absolutely delighted to be able to announce that we reached our fundraising target on Friday 16th December (Jane’s birthday!)

Cassandra’s orchard will be a living celebration of the woman behind the woman, and will enliven and enrich a special place, delighting our visitors as well as providing homes and food for our resident population of birds, insects and bats.

A delicate watercolour painting of a young woman sitting at a table.

This delicate watercolour of Fanny Knight was painted by Cassandra Austen.

Cassandra lived at Jane Austen’s House from 1809 to her death in 1845. Jane’s letters to her are filled with references to plants, flowers and fruits from the orchard, now sadly lost from the grounds of the House.

We will recreate this lost orchard, using dwarf varieties suitable for growing in containers. There will be a tree for every novel, and donors’ names will be recorded on plaques for each tree. The orchard will provide blossom in the spring, delicious shade in the summer, and fruits in the autumn. We will underplant the trees with plants for pollinators, turning this empty space into a haven for people and wildlife alike.

A letter written by Jane to Cassandra.

We looked to raise ¬£3000 by the end of December 2022 to enable us to open the orchard in time for Cassandra‚Äôs 250th birthday on 9th January 2023. Cala Homes very kindly donated ¬£1000 to support this project, and we reached our fundraising target by 9.00pm on Jane Austen’s Birthday. A huge thank you to everyone who has donated. Now the planting can begin!

If you would like to support our ongoing conservation work at Jane Austen’s House, please do donate to our Jane’s Fund here.

We will keep everyone who has donated to the project updated on the progress of our trees over the next few years.