Where Were Jane Austen's Novels Set? Fans Can Visit The Real Places That Inspired The Books
Exactly how devoted a Jane Austen fan are you: know your Dashwoods from your Woodhouses? Your Pemberley from your Uppercross? Do you have incredibly strong and immovable opinions about whether Macfadyen or Firth is the supreme Darcy? For those not content with immersing themselves in the text, a gift: I've compiled all the primary places from Austen's novels, plus some filming locations, too, should you fancy a visit. Wondering where Jane Austen's novels were set? Keep reading.
There's plenty of locations across the UK dedicated to the real life novelist, as Bustle notes: there's a Jane Austen Centre in Bath, complete with guides in costume, while you can visit her house in Chawton, Hampshire. Or you can pay your respects in person (sort of) by visiting her grave in Winchester Cathedral, which offers a chipper-sounding "Tour and Tea" event. But if you're more about the novels than the author herself, there's plenty of places across the UK to picture yourself as a Jane Austen character. Emma fans might gravitate towards Box Hill, Surrey, while Persuasion fans should take a (careful) visit to the Cobb, Lyme Regis. And then there's the filming locations of the many, many Austen adaptations. Hoping to fit it all in, Janeites? You might have to take a month off work.
Sense And Sensibility
"The family of Dashwood had long been settled in Sussex," opens Sense and Sensibility, a line almost certainly authored in the knowledge that 200 years later, this very writer would be compiling a list of Jane Austen settings. (Thanks, Jane!) The majority of the Dashwood family, excepting heir John, are subsequently forced to leave the fictional Norland Park, and settle in the equally fictional Barton Cottage, in Devonshire.
More tangible locations featured in Sense and Sensibility? Oxford, where Edward Ferrars studied and frequently visits, and London, where sisters Elinor and Marianne Dashwood spy the faithless Willoughby with his new fiancée. Fans of the 1995 Ang Lee adaptation, starring Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet, can visit a satisfyingly long list of filming locations, including the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, and Efford House, Plymouth (which was used as Barton Cottage).
Pride And Prejudice
The Bennet family of Pride and Prejudice, you may or may not remember, live in the village of Longbourn, Hertfordshire — which, a quick search of Google Maps will reveal, does not exist. Nor does Bingley's home, Netherfield Park, or the village of Meryton; Darcy's Derbyshire home, Pemberley, is similarly fictional.
But somewhere you can visit (or stare at over the fence, at least — it's a private residence)? Luckington Court in the Cotswolds — according to Country Life, it was used as the Bennets' home in the BBC's 1995 adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. Alternatively, you can visit Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, which stood in for Pemberley in the 2005 Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen adaptation.
Protagonist Catherine Morland begins Northanger Abbey in the fictional village of Fullerton, but the action quickly moves to Bath, where Catherine enters the social scene and meets Henry Tilney. Northanger itself is another fictional location, "thirty miles" away from Bath. In Giles Foster's 1987 TV adaptation, Bodiam Castle, East Sussex, stands in for Northanger Abbey, while Bath tourist attractions including the Roman Baths, Bath Abbey, and the Assembly Rooms also feature.
Mansfield Park primarily takes place, unexpectedly, at the fictional Mansfield Park, located in Northamptonshire. In the 1999 film adaptation by Patricia Rozema, the English Heritage site Kirby Hall stands in for the titular estate. The novel also incorporates Brighton, Portsmouth, and London.
Mansfield Park is one of the most contested of Austen's novels, however, for a setting that's not depicted — Sir Thomas Bertram's sugar plantation in Antigua, reliant on slavery. As Edward Said observes in Culture and Imperalism, the Antigua plantation is met by an "aesthetic silence" in Austen's novel, never seen and only fleetingly referred to. Throughout Mansfield Park, Said argues, Austen is "resisting or avoiding that other setting", expecting her audience to assume, with no objection to, the imperial source of the Bertram family's wealth.
Emma primarily takes place in the "large and populous village" of Highbury, Surrey; the Woodhouse's estate, Hartfield, belongs to the village, "in spite of its separate lawn, and shrubberies, and name". Randalls, the estate where the Westons live, belongs to "the same parish" as Hartfield, while George Knightley's estate, Donwell Abbey, belongs to "the parish adjoining". And — surprise — they're all fictional.
You might recall, however, an outing to Box Hill, where Emma insults Miss Bates. That's a very real area of the North Downs, owned by the National Trust. Why not mimic Emma: go, take a picnic, call one of your acquaintainces boring, be shamed by your future husband.
In Douglas McGrath's 1996 film adaptation starring Gwyneth Paltrow, the village of Evershot, Dorset, stood in for Highbury, while Came House, Dorset, became Hartfield and Claydon House, Buckinghamshire, become Donwell Abbey. The latter is a National Trust property open to visitors, while the former is available for weddings. How fitting!
Like Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion establishes its setting in the very first line, thanks to Sir Walter Elliot's preoccupation with his heritage. The Elliots — including protagonist Anne — must rent out their family seat, the fictional Kellynch Hall (in the not so fictional Somerset). The Musgrove estate, Uppercross, is also fictional. Unlike many of Austen's novels, however, the narrative incorporates two very real places: Lyme Regis, the Dorset town where Louisa Musgrove is injured, and Bath, where Anne and Captain Wentworth renew their engagement.
To get even more specific, Louisa falls at the Lyme Regis harbour, known as the Cobb. Feel free to visit, but consider packing protective headgear. In the 2007 BBC adaptation — directed by Adrian Shergold and starring Sally Hawkins — Neston Park, Wiltshire, is used as Kellynch Hall, Sheldon Manor, Wiltshire, appears as Uppercross, and Bath landmarks including the Assembly Rooms and the Botanical Gardens also feature.
So there you have it: every major setting, real and fictional, featured in Jane Austen's six completed novels. Planning an elaborate Austen tour? Do send Bustle a postcard.