To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of Jane Austen in the rural village of Chawton, on July 3 the recently restored Chawton House will be hosting a sumptuous Regency Ball. ‘The Great House’, as it was known in Austen’s day, was once the scene of numerous Austen family gatherings.
During the special evening, deep-pocketed costumed guests who can afford the event’s $5,000 price tag can wander through the house’s 18th century splendor, dance to traditional Regency music in its Great Hall, and partake in an elegant Regency supper with dishes prepared from recipes in the house’s collection of eighteenth-century cookbooks. Dinner will be served on the magnificent mahogany table at which Jane and her family once dined, and guests can admire Edward Austen Knight’s silver, which will be on display along with the tableware Jane helped her brother choose on a visit to London in 1813.
Proceeds from the event, which will also host celebrity guests who starred in BBC productions of Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility, will go to further the educational role of Chawton House as the home of early women’s writing. The house (not to be confused with modest Chawton Cottage, located nearby and home to Jane Austen for the last eight years of her life) is home to an extensive and valuable library of some 9,000 tomes focusing primarily on women’s writing between the years of 1600 to 1830. The library is accessible to members of the public via application, and guided tours of the house, library and gardens take place every Tuesday and Thursday at 2.30 pm.