Jane Austen's Chawton home visited by Camilla after roof restoration

Image source, Finnbarr Webster/PA Wire
Image caption,
The Duchess of Cornwall was shown artefacts including Jane Austen's writing table

The Duchess of Cornwall has seen work carried out to restore the roof on the former home of Jane Austen.

An appeal was launched in 2020 to save the house in Chawton, Hampshire, in which the author lived for eight years.

The duchess heard about the restoration, involving reclaimed, handmade clay roof tiles installed by specialist contractors.

Museum director Lizzie Dunford said it was a "privilege" to show the duchess around the house.

Image source, Finnbarr Webster/PA Wire
Image caption,
The shirt worn by Colin Firth in the 1995 adaption of Pride and Prejudice is on display at the museum

During the visit, Camilla, an avid Austen reader, viewed the drawing room, where the author read aloud from her very own copy of Pride and Prejudice the day before its publication in 1813.

The duchess also saw the dining room, where Austen's writing table remains as well as first editions of novels and two of her letters.

The shirt worn by actor Colin Firth in the BBC adaption of Pride and Prejudice is also on display at the museum.

In the scene from the 1995 series, Mr Darcy, played by Firth, emerged from a swim in a lake with his shirt dripping wet.

"But he's not in it, that's a bit sad," Camilla joked after being shown the shirt.

Image caption,
Colin Firth, as Mr Darcy, famously emerged from a lake in a wet shirt in the 1995 series

Ms Dunford said: "It was a delight to show Her Royal Highness around the house as she is such an avid reader and supporter of literacy.

"Her Royal Highness was fascinated by Jane Austen's tiny writing table, the letters she wrote here and the first editions of her novels."

Restoration work was carried out on the roof following surveys showing it in need of repair, leading to concerns about items held in the museum.

An appeal was launched in 2020 after worries that damp was affecting the building and causing roof tiles to slip.

It received contributions from Hampshire County Council and the government's Culture Recovery Fund to allow restoration work to be carried out.

Austen lived at the home - from 1809 until her death in 1817 - with her mother and sister, both called Cassandra, and friend Martha Lloyd.

During this settled period in her life she wrote, revised and published her six celebrated novels.

Image source, Jane Austen's House Museum
Image caption,
Jane Austen lived in the family home in the village of Chawton until her death in 1817

Afterwards Camilla visited the new Southampton centre of Maggie's, a charity which supports cancer patients and their families.

She opened the centre, which is based in the grounds of University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, and invited six-year-old Isabelle to help her plant a tree to mark her visit.

Image source, Maggie's
Image caption,
The duchess has been president of Maggie's since 2008

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