Posts Tagged ‘Summer events’

by Brenda S. Cox

A few years ago, on a trip to England, I discovered a wonderful summer Jane Austen event: Regency Week in Alton. Yes, the Jane Austen Festival in Bath in September is great. But for many people, it’s easier to travel in the summer.

And, Austen arguably had closer ties to Alton and Chawton than she did to Bath or Winchester. She spent her last years in the village of Chawton, writing or rewriting all of her novels for publication. Alton is the nearest large town, where her family shopped and visited.

This year’s Regency Week is June 17-25, 2023. I’m excited that I’ll get to speak at this one for the first time! My talk will be “Why Mr. Collins? The Church and Clergy in Jane Austen’s England.” And I will get to do it at Alton’s lovely, historic church, St. Lawrence’s. (When we visited there, the churchwarden showed us bullet holes from the English Civil War in the 1600s.)

The church will also host a Sunday evening choral evensong service, with a Regency theme, and an organ recital. The Friends (Quaker) Meeting House will host a teatime discussion of Sense and Sensibility, which I’m also looking forward to.  

The week kicks off with Regency Day, when you can wander around the town in Regency costume, if you wish. You can visit booths, watch military reenactments, musical entertainment, and dancing, and take a carriage ride. When I went before, I met a number of Austenesque writers, and enjoyed connecting with them. 

On a previous Regency Day, fencing was a highlight of the street events.

Of course a dance workshop, a ball (sold out for this year), and a country dance will be highlights of the week. Guided walks of Alton, Chawton, and the vicinity are offered, focusing on Austen’s connections with the area. Jane Hurst, an expert on the history of the area, leads those. I have met her and she was very helpful to me in my own research for my book.

At the Jane Austen House, tours of the house focusing on Sense and Sensibility and on Pride and Prejudice sound fascinating.  Nearby Chawton House offers a Curators tour of the Quills and Characters exhibit, about Austen-era letter-writing and “women’s experiences of travel, science, reading, and scandal.” A talk about botanical women and tours of the Chawton House Gardens will also be packed with interesting insights. I’m also looking forward to a tour of Gilbert White‘s house in Selborne and his gardens.

Alton Regency Day (promo photo)

Picnics, parades, cocktails, tours, Regency pastimes, craft workshops, talks, and much more fill out this year’s program. Check out the full schedule at their website.

At the 2015 Regency Week, I got to meet some wonderful Austen Variations authors (from left): Abigail Reynolds, Maria Grace, L. L. Diamond, Jane Odiwe, Cassandra Grafton, and Monica Fairview. Since then I have enjoyed many of their books. Booths this year will no doubt focus on other interesting items.

Why a Regency Week in Alton?

I asked the organizers to tell me more about Regency Week and its background. Marie Kelle said:

Jane Austen Regency Week is a 9-day festival held in Alton and Chawton in Hampshire (UK) each year to celebrate both our local internationally-acclaimed writer, and a very interesting period of history, encouraging people to explore their cultural heritage.  It started as just a weekend of events and grew into the 9 day festival we now have.

We have a varied programme covering walks, dancing, tours, talks and much more. The ball is already sold out, but the very enjoyable and less formal Country Dance event still has tickets available.  The week begins with Alton Regency Day which includes a craft and gifts market, Regency and Napoleonic War era re-enactors, Mill Cottage Farm Experience and entertainment from The Kings Pond Shantymen and Alton Morris Dancers.

If you have never been to Regency Week before some highlights for this year are of course Regency Day where, if you wish, you can stroll around dressed in your Regency era outfits, and a Horse and Carriage ride is a must!  Other highlights are Garden Cocktails at Chawton House,  and lunch at the Allen Gallery followed by a tour of the ceramics exhibits. You can also view the Hampshire Libraries Jane Austen Collection at Alton Library. Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility themed tours at Jane Austen’s House, and House Tour and Cream Teas at Wyards Farmhouse are more of the week’s highlights.  

We have some sewing workshops on offer this year: you can make your own flower pot broach at Gilbert White’s House in Selborne and you can make a Regency Era Reticule. Another workshop will show you how to finish and embellish your own bonnet (this workshop includes a ‘posh tea’).  All this along with three guided historical walks, circular countryside walks of the beautiful scenery around Chawton, and much more!


I’d love to see you there! Or, if you can’t come this summer, I hope you’ll put it on your wish list for a future summer. :-)

Schedule, Tickets, and Accommodations

The schedule can be found at www.janeaustenregencyweek.co.uk

Tickets for the 2023 Jane Austen Regency Week are now on sale, both on Eventbrite and also from our office by calling Marie on 01420 85057. Contact marie@altoncommunitycentre.org.uk

Regency Week 2023 eventbrite tickets can be found by clicking this link (please note there is a booking fee per ticket at eventbrite, but if you buy direct from Alton Community Centre there is a £3.00 booking fee per transaction no matter how many tickets are booked.

For options for local accommodation see Places to stay. There are also some local rooms/homes etc on AirBnB.

Jane Austen Regency Week is run by a group of volunteers and participating organizations under the auspices of the charity, Alton Community Association CIO. It is funded through ticket sales, sponsorship and advertising.  Jane Austen Regency Week is a fundraising activity for Alton Community Association CIO (reg charity 1173885).

St. Lawrence’s Church in Alton, by the way, was the model for the cover art of my book, Fashionable Goodness: Christianity in Jane Austen’s England

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