The old rectory in the village where Jane Austen was born is up for her sale — and it’s a gorgeous Hampshire masterpiece

Jane Austen’s wealthy older brother demolished the birthplace of the great writer and the house he replaced is now up for sale: Steventon House.

When potential vacation home buyers dream of their ideal property, they often envision a beautiful square old Georgian rectory or rectory in a pretty village with a small plot of land and views of the surrounding countryside. Typically English, their appeal stems from a combination of beautiful architecture that boasts superbly proportioned rooms and idyllic settings, often near a church in the heart of a community. They are also perfect for modern families – with four spacious living rooms, five or six bedrooms and large yet manageable gardens.

Steventon House, a Grade II listed former vicarage that went on the market with Savills and Knight Frank for an estimated £8.5m, is just such a place. And if you feel all kinds of Jane Austen from the image of this beautiful house, then there is a very good reason for this: this is the old rectory in the village where Austen was born, and it has a direct connection with the writer herself. .

In June 2023, The Old Rectory Society, founded in 2006 by a former Daily Telegraph editor Charles Moore, spends Jane Austen’s day. The society is unambiguous about the position of such houses in our architectural heritage: according to its website, they are “one of the greatest repositories of the architectural, social, cultural and religious history of our country.”

The visit begins in Chawton, the Hampshire village where Austin and her sister Cassandra lived for the last eight years of their lives; the cottage is now a museum. He later moved to The Old Rectory in nearby Bentley, where a brother was the priest. However, it does not mention another local village, Steventon, where Austin was born. Father Austen, a few miles southwest of Basingstoke, was rector of the small 12th-century St. Nicholas Church at Steventon. She is believed to have written parts Pride and Prejudice And Northanger Abbey when she lived in the rectory, which she called the most peaceful period of her life.

When her father retired in 1801, the next eight years of her life were spent moving from one apartment to another in Bath and elsewhere, and she could not write again until she arrived at Chawton Cottage in 1809. Anyone who goes looking for Jane’s childhood home will leave the village disappointed today.

By the time her father retired, Jane’s older brother, Edward, had inherited several estates, including Chawton, from his relative and benefactor, Thomas Knight; The knights, being childless, chose Edward as their heir, and he indeed took their surname. When Edward’s son (and Jane’s nephew) William Knight took over as Provost of Steventon in 1823, the decision was made to demolish the existing vicarage – Austen’s former home and birthplace – and build a new one on a higher site on the opposite side. roads. The reasons for this decision differ, but it is believed that the old house was badly located, needed major repairs after the flood, or simply wasn’t big enough. In any case, a much grander vicarage for William was built and is thought to have been completed sometime in the 1820s.

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According to the Jane Austen Society, a lime tree believed to have been planted by Jane’s brother marks the spot where the original rectory stood in the village. Others point to the water pump. In 2012, the BBC reported the results of an archaeological dig in the same field. By assessing the exact size and location of the building’s remaining foundation evidence, the team was able to match it to the house illustrated in the memoirs of Jane Austen’s nephew and first biographer, James Edward Austen-Lee. in 1869.

The new rectory is a beautiful Georgian family home with white stucco facades, elegant casement windows and a slate roof. It was sold to the 2nd Duke of Wellington in 1855 and remained the vicarage of the village until 1930, when the parishes of North Waltham and Steventon were amalgamated.

Approaching what is now known as Steventon House along an attractive tree-lined road, it is easy to see why the ambitious new rector chose this location: the main reception areas overlook the gardens and parkland beyond. The house was last listed for sale in 2009, during which time the current owners have carried out an extensive renovation program in the style of a classic country house.

There is an attractive double kitchen/breakfast room that opens onto the garden and the house sits on over 50 acres with a fenced garden with seating and a heated pool. To the west of the walled garden is a conservatory, vegetable garden, and extensive wild grass running through the trees to a driveway where a useful two-bedroom cottage sits.

Co-sales agent Edward Sugden of Savills Country Homes suggests that the location next to some of the best preparatory and public schools in the country, and the availability or commutability for London, means there is “a strong possibility that a city or family buyer, based on finance, comes forward.

Although this part of the countryside was once dominated by stockbrokers, Mr. Sugden notes that today wealth creation is much broader, from fintech to app developers, green energy and healthcare.

“Not only is this a particularly beautiful home in a beautiful mature setting, but the world-famous connection to Jane Austen gives it a sense of place, history and romance,” he adds.

“This will broaden its appeal, especially to international buyers, who represent a strong sector at this market level, especially from the US.” Edward Cunningham of Knight Frank believes that the sale provides “the opportunity to own a piece of history within walking distance of London.”

Steventon House is up for sale with Savills and Knight Frank for an estimated price of £8.5m.

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