Have you ever cried because of a house? In public? Maybe your first house or a dream house, but what about a house that is not yours and never will be? I am talking about a house that is not yours and never will be? I am talking about a house that is over 200 years old. It creeks in several places and it is always needing repairs. The bricks have different colors and some rooms have been re-purposed to accommodate the museum. Well, I did cry. A lot. I remained stuck in time and space for what seemed a long, but actually was a short time. I could not stop the tears streaming down my face. Embarrassing. Do you think I cared? Not one bit.
It took me completely by surprise. I went to Chawton for the first time last December (2015) and was excited to see the house but never imagine I would start crying just by looking at it. The house was still closed and my dear friend Cass Grafton and I had to take some tea at Cassandra’s Cup waiting for it to open. But it was hard to move. I was magnetized, mesmerized, touched to no end, and just plain frozen.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that every Janeite dreams of visiting Chawton Cottage, the Jane Austen’s House Museum where she wrote Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion. (Northanger Abbey was published in 1817 but it was Jane Austen’s first novel and was written between 1798 and 1803). So there I was imagining our dear Jane writing by the window, watching the road and taming her furiously intelligent and active mind. I went back in time for a minute and felt I was there when she was writing her novels. What a sight to behold.
Have you been there? Please share your experience the first time you saw this precious location. I would like to know I am not the only one a bit crazy. LOL.