Help to safeguard a priceless Austen family property and the great legacy of early women writers housed at the “Great House.”
Campaigns & Events
Glimpses of NAFCH's successful campaign at the 2019 AGM.
Bench Campaign 2019 (ended) ~ Generous donors sponsored 30 benches for the lawns and gardens at Chawton House. These durable, comfortable benches were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, who also designed some of the terraces at Chawton House. SEE THE VIEWS FROM THE BENCHES >
Garden Trail Campaign 2018 (ended) ~ In this successful campaign, donors sponsored one of 20 possible garden spots at Chawton House, choosing a Jane Austen quotation to grace the plaque at the site. VISIT THE TRAIL >
As the new President of the North American Friends of Chawton House (NAFCH), I would like to introduce our group and its mission.
Chawton House in Hampshire is “The Great House” formerly belonging to Jane Austen’s brother Edward Austen Knight, just up the road from the cottage where she herself resided for some years and which became Jane Austen's House Museum. Jane walked up to the “Great House” regularly during her years in Chawton in order to dine there with family, to spend time with her motherless nieces and nephews, to explore the gardens, and to worship at St. Nicholas church next door.
Presently, Chawton House safeguards the Knight family’s library books, a few important paintings and antiques, as well as an extraordinary collection of works by early women writers. These works were assembled during the 1990s by American philanthropist Sandy Lerner, founder of Cisco Systems, after discovering how understudied and uncollected many early women authors were. Chawton House has, subsequently, become a center for the study of the female pens that preceded and inspired Austen’s own: many scholars, bibliophiles, and philanthropists have added to the core collection. Much new scholarship has emerged from work done on site.
After almost single-handedly carrying the financial burden of Chawton House’s ambitious restoration and maintenance for two decades, Lerner recently had to step away from the project, leaving Chawton House to make its own way in the world. Many friends are needed to help this worthy charity and historic property establish a bright future of financial independence. After all, Chawton House and the rich literary history it now safeguards should never have been one person’s financial responsibility to shoulder.
Over the last two years, The North American Friends of Chawton House (NAFCH) has already raised over USD$160K for Chawton House. We are proud of this recent outpouring of support and opening of wallets. We keenly hope to do even more.
NAFCH (formerly NAFCHL) is an official charity registered in the USA and Canada, or what Americans term a “501(c)(3).” Our tax-exempt status allows US donors to get a tax deduction for their charitable donation, giving them an extra incentive to be generous. We thus exist expressly in order to raise funds for Chawton House and support its primary mission to raise awareness and increase our understanding of the early women writers who preceded, inspired, and influenced Jane Austen.
Please join us. Become a Friend of “The Great House”, its lovely rooms and historic garden, and the many early women writers, including Jane Austen, whose legacy and works reside within.
With gratitude and optimism,
“I never walk up the drive to the Great House without thinking of Jane Austen walking there before me. Over the years, Edward, who had several houses, came to spend more time at Chawton with his family, which of course I attribute largely to Jane's presence.”
~ Isobel Grundy
teacher, scholar, author
Board of Directors
Janine Barchas, PhD,
Deborah Barnum, MLS
Pam Braak, CPA
Inger Brodey, PhD
Isobel Grundy, DPhil
Gina Heath King, MLS
Cheryl Kinney, MD
Paul Savidge, JD
Kerri Spennicchia, MSLIS