A Jane Austen-Lover's Guide To The U.K.
by Emma Oulton

The U.K. is a treasure trove of beautiful literary locations. It's where you'll find the inspirations for Hogwarts, the Secret Garden, and the 100 Acre Wood — and it's bursting with places for Jane Austen fans to visit. On your trip to the U.K., you can visit the house where Jane Austen lived; you can follow her footsteps across the country and see the gorgeous scenery that inspired her writing; you can go to the filming locations and marvel at how Pemberley manages to be even more stunning in real life than on the screen.

If you're planning a tour of the U.K., you'll be amazed at how many places you'll find traces of everyone's favorite Regency author. Starting in Plymouth, which is pretty much as far south as you can get, you can visit the majestic Saltram House — which you'll probably recognize as the family house in the 1995 Sense and Sensibility — and read a collection of Jane Austen's letters. From there, you can travel all the way up through England and Wales, stopping at manor houses and cathedrals on the way to relive your favorite Jane Austen moments, and finish in Scotland's Gretna Green — referenced in Lydia's infamous elopement letter to Lizzy.


Saltram House, Plymouth

Watching the Dashwood family have to leave their beloved family home Norland in the 1995 adaptation of Sense and Sensibility was even sadder when the house was filmed in such a beautiful location. The grand Saltram House in Plymouth is well worth a visit for any Jane Austen fan, especially as it houses a collection of letters written by the author herself.


Jane Austen Centre, Bath

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The Jane Austen Centre is an absolute must. It's in the center of Jane Austen's beloved city Bath, where she set both Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, so you can imagine that you have all manner of fashionable balls to attend while you're there. At the Centre, you'll find an exhibition about Jane Austen, you'll have the chance to dress up in Regency costume, and you can take your tea in the old-fashioned tea rooms, looking out the window over the picturesque city.


Tintern Abbey, Wales

Some Austenites think that Tintern Abbey provided the inspiration for the gothic Northanger Abbey. Even though it's in Wales, 100 miles from Gloucestershire where Northanger Abbey is set, the theory still holds up: we know that Jane Austen must have at least seen a picture of Tintern Abbey because she describes it in Mansfield Park, and its grand and crumbling walls are certainly giving off Northanger vibes.


Jane Austen's House, Chawton, Hampshire

No Austen-lover can take a visit to the U.K. without visiting the gorgeous cottage in Chawton where Austen spent much of her life. After you've browsed the collection of Jane Austen artefacts there, go next door to the Chawton House Library, which is dedicated to early women's writing.


Jane Austen's Grave, Winchester Cathedral

Not far from her cozy cottage, you can visit Jane Austen's grave in the terrifyingly grand Winchester Cathedral — which has not one, not two, but three memorials dedicated to the remarkable author.


Take A Ferry To The Isle Of Wight

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Fanny Price, as we know, "thinks of nothing but the Isle of Wight, and she calls it the Island, as if there were no other island in the world." Take a ferry from the seaside city of Portsmouth, and imagine what the crossing must have been like for Austen. The journey was probably a little rougher — but the gorgeous view as you arrive at "the Island" is much the same.


Box Hill, Surrey

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Box Hill is the setting for the infamous picnic where Knightley told Emma her cruel joke was "badly done," and readers everywhere sank into the ground with second-hand shame. It's also an absolutely stunning location for a summery walk; just don't get on Knightley's bad side.


Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire

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OK, it's time to take this trip further north. Mr Rushworth's house, Sotherton, is one of the main reasons Maria Bertram agrees to marry him despite loving somebody else — so we always knew that house had to be something special. Well, rumor has it that Sotherton was inspired by Stoneleigh Abbey in Warwickshire — and yeah, that is a house worth marrying someone over. The Abbey even offer Jane Austen tours for any Mansfield Park fan who shows up — so I definitely recommend paying it a visit.


Castle Ashby, Northamptonshire

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Of course, lovely as Sotherton is, it's the Bertram family home that's really the star of Austen's novel. About an hour's drive from Stoneleigh Abbey will get you to the seriously impressive Castle Ashby, which allegedly formed the inspiration for Mansfield Park itself.


Chatsworth House, Derbyshire

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I bet you recognize this stunning house. In the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen fell in love in the grounds of the idyllic Chatsworth House — or, as they called it, Pemberley. It's even in Derbyshire where the real Pemberley was supposed to be, so you'll feel that much closer to Mr Darcy.


Gretna Green, Scotland

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Finally, you can finish your Jane Austen tour of the U.K. by crossing the border into Scotland and visiting Gretna Green. To Jane Austen, this town was infamous for being the Las Vegas of the U.K., and many young couples used to elope here without the approval of their parents. When Lizzy Bennet says that Wickham and Lydia haven't gone to Gretna Green, it's even worse; that means that the two lovebirds are shacking up out of wedlock. Gretna Green would be the perfect place for any Jane Austen-loving couple to make their own vows — but if you're not quite ready to put a ring on it, there are all sorts of other historical activities to do here. And of course, what happens in Gretna Green stays in Gretna Green.