As Jane Austen said in Emma, ââ”There is nothing quite like staying home for real comfort”. Now, the roof of the novelist’s own home is set to be restored, after funds were raised to save it through public donations and a government grant.
Austen lived in Chawton, Hampshire for the last eight years of his life, writing novels including Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Emma. in this last. The cottage’s roof was last renovated in 1948, before it opened to the public as Jane Austen’s House Museum, and major repairs are now needed, according to staff, who are working to raise funds for the restore from last year.
Over 30,000 hand-made terracotta tiles are needed to restore the roof of the Grade I listed property, with contractors also required to ensure that the work does not disturb the rare bats that share the site. A public fundraiser to sponsor a tile has so far raised more than Â£ 64,000, while a grant from Hampshire County Council raised an additional Â£ 85,000.
A third installment of Â£ 85,597, from Historic England and the Historic Houses Foundation of the Heritage Stimulus Fund’s second round, means work has now started. The museum will be closed to visitors on weekdays during construction, but will remain open on weekends and during the holiday season.
âIt’s really great news that Jane Austen’s house has received this grant,â said Historic England grant director Lizzie Dunford. âWith this support, along with that of Hampshire County Council and the thousands of people around the world who donated to our fundraising campaign, we can now restore the roof that housed Austen as she created some of the greatest masterpieces of English literature and protected its precious possessions and inspiring home for future generations.