Jane Austens Chawton home at risk from leaking roof

Jane Austens Chawton home at risk from leaking roof

Artefacts in the former home of Jane Austen could be damaged because of rainwater leaking in through the roof, the Jane Austen Museum has warned.

An appeal has been launched to help save the house in Chawton, Hampshire in which the author lived for eight years.

Surveys have shown the roof in need of repair and there are concerns about items held in the museum being affected by damp.

Museum director Lizzie Dunford said the roof’s condition was “not good”.

The famed author completed all her celebrated works – including Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility and Emma – sitting at a small walnut writing table, now on display in the museum.

Ms Dunford said the Grade I Listed building was last reroofed in the 1940s in an “idiosyncratic way”.

“It’s slightly unstable so we’re seeing the impact of climate change with hotter summers and wetter winters meaning the building is expanding and contracting and as it does, the tiles start to slip.”

The lockdown earlier this year meant maintenance work was not able to be carried out and there has already been ingresses of rainwater.

Ms Dunford said: “It’s one of the most important roofs in all of English literature.

“Under this roof Jane Austen lived when she wrote and revised the novels which are so beloved today. We have an astonishing collection and she is so important to people emotionally – it its vital to protect it.

“Damp is deadly for historic collections.”

Among the repairs planned is a complete reroofing of the house reusing as many of the existing tiles as possible.

The museum is appealing to Austen fans around the world to help raise money, with £77,000 already raised through online donations.

Leave a Reply