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David Ford, History EditorTours > Winchester

Tour the City of Winchester
by David Nash Ford BA, Editor, History on Britannia

Jane Austen's House

One of Britain's best loved writers, Jane Austen, was a Hampshire lass. Born in Steventon near Basingstoke, she lived most of her life in Chawton near Alton. Sadly, though her works of literature were great, the lady's health was not and she was dogged by illness throughout her life. As Winchester was the only place outside London with its own hospital, Jane naturally placed herself in the care one of the city's eminent doctors, Dr Giles King Lyford; and in May 1817 she and her devoted sister, Cassandra, took lodgings in the city to be near him.

A plaque marks the house at No. 8 College Street where Jane was to stay for less than two months. She rarely went out and her condition quickly declined. It has since been argued that she was suffering from a disorder of the adrenal glands known as Addison's Disease. She did manage to write an amusing poem about the city called 'Venta' (an old Roman name) while staying in the city, but she was not to recover. Jane Austen died at her lodgings on 18th July 1817 and was buried in the Cathedral.

Next Stop: Winchester College

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