Six ways to live like a Jane Austen character

by Melissa Brobby

Category: Things to do
July 4 2017

With 2017 marking the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death (18 July), take a trip back in time to live the Regency period, during which Austen’s literary masterpieces were set.  

Watch Pride and Prejudice at Chatsworth House

The majestic Chatsworth estate provided the exterior and some interiors for Mr Darcy’s country pile at Pemberley in the 2005 film adaptation of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, so where better place to watch it. With the rolling hills of Derbyshire as a backdrop and bleating sheep and tweeting birds adding to the atmosphere, you'll never want to watch another film in a dimly-lit cinema again.

Have afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason

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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. 

Spend an evening at the opera house

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.

Take a regency dance class in Bath

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.

Have a picnic on Box Hill in Surrey

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.

Take a horse-drawn carriage ride in Windsor

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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.

Melissa Brobby

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