When you travel with Discover England Tours we offer you:
Jane Austen and Thomas Hardy tours of Southern England exclusively for your own group of 2 to 4 people
Stay with us in our lovely 18th century country house B&B in Thomas Hardy's Wessex. Only 2 hours drive from London.
Flexible start and finish dates to suit your travel plans.
We're a private guided tour provider, so we can build a customised itinerary just for you. We have created an outline Jane Austen Tour and an outline Thomas Hardy tour. You can customise these to match your interest and the time you have available. You can also add extra days to include other English heritage and garden locations.
Jane Austen Literary Tour
Chawton and Winchester
Our journey begins at St Nicholas Church Steventon, where Jane would have heard her father preaching to the congregation. The parsonage where Jane grew up no longer stands, having been demolished by her brother in order to build a new house for his son. Next we travel to The Jane Austen Museum in the village of Chawton in Hampshire. This was the home of Jane for the last 8 years of her life. The museum is the only house that is open to the public where Jane lived and wrote. Just a short distance away is Chawton House, once owned by Janes brother Edwards, which now houses an internationally respected research and learning centre for the study of early women's writing from 1600 to 1830. We then travel to Winchester to visit the grave of Jane Austen in the Cathedral and to see the house in College Street where she died.
The City of Bath
Our next destination is the beautiful city of Bath where Jane lived from 1801 to 1806. There are many locations within the city that have Jane Austen associations such as:
No. 4 Sydney Place where she lived with her parents and sister
The Jane Austen Centre, a museum in Gay Street dedicated to the novelist, not far from where she lived at No. 25 after the death of her father
No. 1 Royal Cresent - a museum re-creating an 18th century town house complete with servants quarters below stairs.
The Assembly Rooms where Jane attended Balls and Assemblies and observed with a keen eye the social live of the city.
The Pump Room where Janes brother "took the waters" to try and cure his gout. You can still try the curative benefits of the waters or imaging yourself back in the Georgian period having a light lunch in the restaurant.
A walk around the streets of Bath taking in the wondeful Georgian architecture that Jane would have seen as she walked the same streets.
A day by the sea in Lyme Regis. Jane visited Lyme Regis on two occassions and collected material for her last novel Persuasion. In the novel she describes "the principal street almost hurrying into the water, the Walk to the Cobb, skirting round the pleasant little bay, which, in the season, is animated with bathing machines and company...are what the stranger's eye will seek." It has changed little in the intervening years and Jane Austen would still recognise the town as it is now.
Jane Austen film locations
The Assembly Rooms, Bath were used as a setting in the 1986’s Northanger Abbey and 1995’s Persuasion. The Rooms themselves are open to visitors all year round, including the Fashion Museum and bookshop located in the building’s basement.
Stourhead House and Garden - The 2005 production of Pride and Prejudice features the 18th-century landscaped garden, Stourhead, and one of its enchanting temples. The Temple of Apollo, set above the tranquil lake, was used as the location for Mr Darcy’s first and futile proposal to Lizzie.
Lacock village and Abbey - the setting for Merryton in the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice.
Montacute House - Sense and Sensibility. The Oscar-winning film starred Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet as sisters Elinor and Marianne.
Mompesson House, Salisbury - location for Mrs Jennings’ townhouse in the 1995 film of Sense and Sensability. The National Trust opened a Sense and Sensibility exhibition in the house in 2015 featuring costumes and images from the filming.
Thomas Hardy Literary Tour
2 Full Days
Along the Winterbourne valley, passing through typical Dorset villages of thatched cottages to the tiny church of Winterbourne Thompson, preserved as a memorial to Thomas Hardy. This tiny chapel, built of flint and stone, with a tiny weatherboarded bell turret, has barely been altered since it was built in Norman times. The church escaped total ruin in 1931 only when The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings sold a collection of Thomas Hardy manuscripts to pay for repairs.
Next, we travel a short distance to the parish church in the village of Bere Regis. The D'Urberville family was based on the real life Bere Regis Turberville family whos tomb can be seen in the church. One of the main scenes in the book centres around Tess visiting the D'Urberville family Tomb in Kingsbere (Bere Regis). "Not so very far to the left of her she [Tess] could discern a dark patch in the scenery, which inquiry confirmed her in supposing to be trees marking the environs of Kingsbere -- in the church of which parish the bones of her ancestors -- her useless ancestors -- lay entombed."
A few miles down the road we arrive in Puddletown, “Wetherbury” of Far from the Madding Crowd and Under the Greenwood Tree. Across Egdon Heath the location of Return of the Native, followed by a visit to Hardy’s cottage and birthplace. A very modest cottage now looked after by National Trust where he wrote several of his finest works. Soak up the atmosphere of the wood fire in the parlour and explore the house and garden.
Then to Stinsford Church, "Mellstock" (Under the Greenwood Tree), where Hardy's heart is buried next to his two wives. Hardy's connection with Stinsford is a strong one. He was born a few miles away at Higher Bockhampton, but St Michael's was his parish church. He was baptised in the font at Stinsford, and he attended services here and later taught Sunday school.
Finally we travel to the county town of Dorchester and Hardy's home at Max Gate where he lived from 1885 until his death in 1928. It was here that he wrote Tess of the d'Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure and The Major of Casterbridge as well as much of his poetry.
Dorset County Museum
The Hardy Collection in the Dorset County Museum is unique and unmatched anywhere in the world, comprising over 7,000 items, with many manuscripts, including The Mayor of Casterbridge, two other novels and two volumes of poetry. Writers Gallery in the Dorset County Museum celebrates Thomas Hardy’s achievement and tells the story of his life and work. It uncovers the landscape of his mind, which became the part-real, part imaginary Wessex of his books - their settings inseparable from the places that inspired them. A Writers' Dorset contains a reconstruction of Thomas Hardy’s third study from his home at Max Gate, where he wrote The Dynasts and many poems. All the furniture, books and personal possessions in the room originally belonged to Hardy. On Hardy’s desk under the window can be seen the pens which he used to write Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, and a perpetual calendar set at the date of his first meeting with his first wife, Emma Gifford.