Despite only enjoying moderate success in her lifetime, Jane Austen and her novels play an important role in English literary history. Even today, her novels are inspiring people to embrace the Regency period and bring it back to life.
The majestic Chatsworth estate provided the exterior and some interiors for Mr Darcy’s country pile at Pemberley in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, making this historic building the perfect place to celebrate Austen's life. With the rolling hills of Derbyshire as a backdrop and bleating sheep adding to the atmosphere, you'll never want to return to the present day.
There’s nothing like an afternoon tea to connect you to historical English traditions – even if the custom arose slightly after Austen’s time. Put yourself squarely in her era at Fortnum & Mason’s tea salon in Piccadilly, London. The brand’s been around since 1707, and their name is synonymous with quality, so Austen undoubtedly quaffed their well-known brews. The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon serves afternoon tea seven days a week from 11:30 am.
Operas don’t currently feature at the most famous opera house in Jane Austen’s day – King’s Theatre (now Her Majesty’s) in Haymarket in London – but there are plenty of other places to spend a night at the opera in England. For a double dose of Austen-era fun, head to Buxton Opera House as part of a trip through Derbyshire, which featured heavily in Jane Austen’s novels. The opera house frequently plays host to world-famous operas that would have been a sensation during Austen’s lifetime.
Clubs and societies promoting the style of dancing that was popular during Jane Austen’s time can be found all over England, but nowhere was better known for its Regency-era balls than Bath, where Austen spent considerable time. Get some tutoring in the style and steps of Regency dancing on one of Jane Austen Dancers of Bath’s courses. Come dressed in Regency costume to truly put yourself in the shoes of an Austen character.
Like the characters from Austen’s Emma, you can have your own “burst of admiration” for the view from atop Surrey’s Box Hill on a picnic. Picnicking became highly fashionable during the Regency era, and Box Hill is still one of the top spots for al fresco eating in England. And the views across the valley from the Surrey Hills AONB isn’t too bad, either.
Just as luxury automobiles are symbols for wealth and status today, so were horse-drawn carriages in Regency England, and Austen uses the vehicles as subtle commentary on the place and position of many characters in her novels. For a lovely day out, take a horse-drawn carriage ride through Windsor Great Park. The thousands of acres in the Royal park have centuries of history to explore, including the long walk with views towards Windsor Castle.
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