The At Home with the Austens Exhibit at the Museum
2012 was the Year of At Home with the Austens, during which the Museum celebrated the domestic life of the Austen family at Chawton. The exhibit in the Reading Room, of some domestic items dating from the early 19th century, has been very popular and we would like to share some images of it now with you.
The display cabinet was filled with items, some associated with the Austen family, some not, to give a flavour of domestic life in the cottage when the Austens lived here.
Among the items on show was a contemporary map of the Chawton village by Edward Mogg, showing the position of the Museum in 1814
A Victorian book of Charades which were written by Jane Austen and her family.
Word play was an important part of Austen family life: as Jane Austen noted when she wrote to her sister, Cassandra in 1816:
Our day in Alton was very well pleasant-Venison quite right-Children well-behaved-& Mr. and Mrs. Digweed taking kindly to our Charades & other Games
(See: Jane Austen’s letter to Cassandra Austen, dated 8th September 1816)
Some draught pieces used by Mary Jane Austen and which were kept in her working and games table which is now on display in the Austen Family Room at the Museum.
Early 19th century coffee cups and wine glasses, typical of the type of wares used in the house:
Syllabub, Tea, Coffee, Singing, Dancing, a Hot Supper, eleven o’clock, everything that can be imagined agreeable
(See: Jane Austen’s Letter to Cassandra Austen, dated 31st May 1811)
Some early 19th century fashion prints: Jane Austen had a keen eye for the latest fashions
She was also a keen needlewoman, and included in the exhibit was a reproduction of a sampler made by a “Jane Austen” although it is not known whether this was by our Jane Austen or by someone else who shared the same name.
An early 19th century aide memoir made of ivory.
Some bone, ivory and mother of pearl gaming counters, dating from the late 18th century, some in the shape of fish:
A copy of the donkey cart which the Austen ladies used at Chawton. The original is on show in the Bakehouse at the Museum
And finally, below, some donkey shoes, which have been found in the garden by our gardener, Celia. Could these have belonged to the donkey owned by the Austens?