Literary Trails of the South Coast
It is a truth universally acknowledged that many of the giants of English literature, including the author of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ herself, have associations and connections with the south of England. We have therefore strung together a sequence of visits that unites some of our best loved and most celebrated authors in this corner of the country.
The South Coast tour begins at Jane Austen’s house in Chawton, regarded as the most treasured Austen site in the world, and nearby Chawton House, the ‘great house’ referred to in Jane’s letters. The next day we call at Gilbert White’s house in Selborne, where this pioneering ‘parson naturalist’ wrote his celebrated ‘Natural History and Antiquities’. We also visit the Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum in Portsmouth and Jane Austen’s grave and memorials in Winchester Cathedral and take a brief walk in the footsteps of that old romantic John Keats. Our tour concludes with a prowl around Virginia Woolf’s former residence Monk’s House and a visit to Rudyard Kipling’s old den at Bateman’s, a Jacobean house with an elegant garden.
Note: this tour has been timed so that it can be taken immediately after our Literary Trails of the West Country tour, with a night in London in between. The South West tour also features Jane Austen - please see separate itinerary for details.
Deposit: £100 Single supplement: £60
Enhance your experience
Whether you want to add extra nights on either side of your tour, you want to upgrade your flight or hotel room, or you are hoping to enjoy a door-to-door airport transfer, we can help.
To add special extras to your tour, call our Specialist Sales Executives to discuss your needs on 01334 657155.
Day 1 -
We depart from our pick-up points in London and transfer to Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, Hampshire, regarded as the most treasured Austen site in the world. It is here that Jane’s genius flourished and where she wrote, revised and had published all her novels: Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Today, Jane Austen’s House is a Grade I listed building and one of the most important literary sites in the world, attracting tens of thousands of visitors each year. The Museum holds an important collection of objects associated with Jane, including letters written by her and personal effects belonging to her and her family. Particular highlights include her jewellery, first editions of her books, furniture, textiles and the table at which she wrote her much loved novels.
We continue to nearby Chawton House, the ‘Great House’ referred to in Jane’s letters, which was owned by her brother Edward. The house has undergone centuries of change and development as it has passed through different hands, making it rich with quirky and fascinating features, from graffiti on paintings and ‘witch marks’ on walls, to heraldic stained glass windows and ornately carved fireplaces. Highlights associated with Jane include the reading alcove in the Oak Room where, according to Knight family legend, she liked to sit; the same room also features a miniature portrait of her beloved niece, Fanny Knight. Visitors can also see the Knight family dining table at which Jane dined with her brothers and sisters, along with Edward Austen’s suit, travel journal and portrait, and a silhouette of Edward being presented to Thomas and Catherine Knight.
We will also have time to explore the gardens, which have been restored to the English Landscape style popularised by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in the late eighteenth century, with an informal lawn and open views across the estate. Further highlights include a walled garden, herb garden, fernery and a shrubbery.
Later we continue to our hotel.
|Hotel||Holiday Inn, Farnborough|
Day 2 -
Following breakfast we resume our literary trail, heading first to Gilbert White’s House in Selborne, Hampshire. It was here that the pioneering ‘parson-naturalist’ wrote the celebrated ‘Natural History and Antiquities’, which was first published in 1789 and has been continuously in print ever since. The rooms have been restored following descriptions in White’s own correspondence and include a chair he used at Oriel College, Oxford (loaned from the College), items of contemporary furniture, family portraits and bed hangings embroidered for him by his aunts, as well as the original manuscript of the book. As well as being a naturalist and author, Gilbert was a keen and accomplished gardener and we will also explore the gardens that surround ‘The Wakes’. Historic features of the garden that can still be seen include the original Haha, Sundial and Fruit Wall as well as the Great Oak planted in 1730. Much of the garden has been recreated using the notes Gilbert White kept in his ‘Garden Kalendar’.
We continue south to Portsmouth, for a visit to the Charles Dickens Birthplace Museum, whose rooms take us on a journey not just into the birth, life and death of the great author, but through lifestyles and preferences of people at the time. A great deal of hard work, effort and insight went into decorating the house to the Regency style favoured by the middle classes of the time. A previous Curator of Art for Portsmouth Museums carefully examined the layers of wallpaper and paint inside the home, ahead of the plaster being stripped off, to identify the paint colours or types of papers used in the original decorations. This meant that any replacement interior finishes could be carefully matched to these originals. The rooms include the parlour, the dining room and the bedroom, in which Dickens was born in 1812. There is also an extensive collection of memorabilia associated with the author, the most important of which is the couch on which Dickens took his last breath at Gad’s Hill in 1870.
Later in the afternoon we call in at Winchester for a visit to the magnificent Cathedral. In the course of our guided tour we will see the grave of Jane Austen, who was buried here in 1817. We will also see the memorial plaque erected by her nephew in 1870 and a memorial window paid for by public subscription in 1900, by which time Jane had attained the fame and critical acclaim she never knew in her lifetime.
We will also take a walk though the Cathedral Close and follow briefly in the footsteps of the celebrated English Romantic poet, John Keats, who stayed in Winchester during the late summer and early autumn of 1819 and passed through here on his daily walk.
|Hotel||Holiday Inn, Farnborough|
|Meals included||Breakfast, Dinner|
Day 3 -
This morning after breakfast, we check out of the hotel and travel into Sussex on the trail of our final two literary greats.
Monk’s House is a tranquil 16th-century weather boarded cottage inhabited by Leonard and the novelist Virginia Woolf from 1919 until Leonard's death in 1969. Full of their favourite things, the house appears as if they just stepped out for a walk and shines a light not just on the life and work of Virginia but on the wider ‘Bloomsbury Group’ and the many artists, writers and thinkers who visited. The walls and furnishings are covered in artwork by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, added to later on by Trekkie Ritchie. The Woolfs bought Monk's House for the 'shape and fertility and wildness of the garden' and today, the lovely cottage garden contains a mix of flowers, vegetables, orchards, lawns and ponds. All in all a most interesting visit, with nothing to be afraid of…
We continue to Bateman’s in Burwash, East Sussex, the Jacobean house which was the home of Rudyard Kipling from 1902-1936. 'That's She! The Only She! Make an honest woman of her - quick!' was how Rudyard Kipling and his wife, Carrie, felt the first time they saw Bateman's. Surrounded by the wooded landscape of the Sussex Weald, this 17th-century house, with its mullioned windows and oak beams, provided a much needed sanctuary to this world-famous writer and inspired his work. The rooms, described by him as 'untouched and unfaked', remain much as he left them, with oriental rugs and artefacts reflecting his strong association with the East. Kipling wrote Puck of Pook’s Hill and Rewards and Fairies, which includes the poem ‘If,’ at Bateman's. He also designed many of the existing features of the elegant garden himself, with a collection of roses, wild flowers and herbs and a watermill. The place has the air of a quintessential English garden, as might have been dreamt of by homesick men in India.
In the late afternoon we return to our drop-off points in London, where the group will disperse or make onward connections.
Tour dates & prices
Included in your cost:
- Services of a professional tour manager
- Comfortable coach travel throughout
- Meals - as per the itinerary