Photo: The Watsons rehearsal_Samuel West_Laura Wade © Manuel Harlan
Jane Austen’s House in Chawton has two new ambassadors for 2020 alongside its new displays and events to celebrate nature and the outdoors.
Actor and theatre director Samuel West and Olivier award-winning playwright and screenwriter Laura Wade will jointly take on the role of ambassadors.
Laura’s play The Watsons, an adaptation of Austen’s unfinished story and directed by West, is set to make its West End debut in May and are delighted to have taken on the role.
The pair spent a morning in rehearsals at the house with the cast and Laura said: “We already feel like we have a connection to the Museum and are very proud to be associated with such an important and resonant place – it means a great deal to us.”
This year will also see the house and garden reflecting Jane and her characters’ love of nature and the outdoors. A first edition of Pride and Prejudice will take pride of place in the Reading Room, celebrating Lizzie’s walk through muddy fields to visit her ill sister at Netherfield, together with a pair of Regency ladies’ walking boots and a pair of pattens, worn by ladies to keep their feet dry.
The bakehouse will feature a new chalkboard for children to record the wildlife they spot in the garden, encouraging them to keep an eye open for birds, bees, insects and even hedgehogs and bats.
A spring flowers workshop will be held on 3rd May and a series of guided walks over the Easter and May bank holidays.
Collections manager Sophie Reynolds said: “Nature is not always the first thing that comes to mind when people think of Jane Austen, but we know from her letters that Jane was a keen walker and enjoyed the countryside. It is this love for the outdoors that she instilled in her heroines that we are celebrating through our events programme, items in our collection and by encouraging visitors to fully enjoy the House’s beautiful cottage garden.”
Jane Austen’s House re-opens to the public tomorrow (1st February).