While Jane Austen primarily lived between Bath and Hampshire, London also held a special significance in her life. In fact, many of her novels drew inspiration from the capital, like Lydia Bennet and Mr. Wickham’s elopement in Pride & Prejudice. To celebrate Austen’s life, we’ve gathered the places in London where her memory lives on, along with significant London sites from her literature in our Secret guide to Jane Austen’s London.
1. Jane Austen’s plaque in Westminster Abbey
Although Austen was buried in Winchester Cathedral, you can pay homage to the literary icon at Westminster Abbey. Find the plaque at the Poet’s Corner, near Shakespeare’s and Lord Byron’s memorial, which commemorates her remarkable contributions to literature and lasting impact on the literary world.
2. Candlelight: Soundtracks of Jane Austen
Transport yourself to the enchanting world of Jane Austen’s novels through the mesmerizing melodies of her movie adaptations. Candlelight: Jane Austen Movie Soundtracks offers a captivating musical experience surrounded by a sea of candles inside the breathtaking Southwark Cathedral. An experience that will make you feel like you were in the Regency era.
3. Henry’s Townhouse Hotel
Step into the elegance of Regency-era London by staying at Henry’s Townhouse Hotel. Inspired by Jane’s favourite brother, Henry, who lived at this esteemed address in the 18th century, this unique 6-bedroom hotel boutique will surely transport you back in time. Its decoration combines sumptuous fabrics with curated artworks and antiques with a host of sophisticated modern amenities to bring the best of Austen’s time back to life.
4. The British Library
Given to Jane in 1794 by her father, you can see her mahogany writing desk on display at the permanent Treasures exhibition at the British Library. Between 1795 and 1799, Austen produced first drafts of what would later become Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey, perhaps using this very writing desk. The “portable writing box” was passed down through generations until 1999, when her family decided to donate it to the British Library.
5. Twinings’ flagship store
Visit Twinings’ flagship store, London’s oldest tea shop, and indulge in the same teas that Jane Austen herself enjoyed. Over 300 years on Strand Street, this renowned tea shop has been the subject of Austen’s writings several times. For instance, a diary entry suggested that her mother, Cassandra, had asked her to pick up some Twinings tea to bring back West.
6. 23 Hans Place
After Eliza, Henry Austen’s wife, passed away, he moved to 23 Hans Place. Jane Austen stayed in the house during her visits in 1814 and 1815, where she grew fond of the building and the square’s garden. In 1815, as she prepared her novel Emma for publication, Jane journeyed to London, where her stay was prolonged due to her brother’s illness, compelling her to nurse him. This visit would be her last to the city, as she passed away in Hampshire 19 months later.
7. National Portrait Gallery
Go for a leisurely walk in the National Portrait Gallery and catch a glimpse of Jane Austen’s portrait, which was sketched by her sister Cassandra. While you’re there, make sure to soak in the visual universe of Jane Austen. You’ll also find many portraits featuring her famous peers like Warren Hastings, Nelson, Queen Caroline, and George IV.
8. V&A Museum
Explore the Regency fashion and culture that shaped Austen’s novels at the V&A Museum. From clothes and jewellery to furniture and china, the exhibits at this South Kensington museum provide context to the society in which her characters lived.
9. 10 Henrietta Street
Henry Austen used to live with his wife at 10 Henrietta Street. This was the same place Jane would stay during her visits to London in the summer of 1813 and March 1814, before Henry’s wife passed away. Coincidentally, the street is conveniently located within walking distance of Covent Garden and the Drury Lane Theater. This made it an ideal location for Jane and Eliza, who shared a strong passion for the theatre.
10. 50 Albemarle Street
50 Albemarle Street stands as a testament to Jane Austen’s connection to London’s literary world. The premises housed the publisher John Murray, who released her novels Emma, followed by the 2nd edition of Mansfield Park. Here, Austen’s words found their way to eager readers, leaving an indelible mark on English literature. While the original building may have changed, the literary legacy of this address continues to resonate.
11. St Clements Church
In Pride & Prejudice, St Clement’s Church is more than architecture; it’s where Lydia Bennet and Mr. Wickham’s elopement unfolds, their hesitant union set within its historic walls. A refuge for the unmarried couple, it concealed them until Mr. Darcy’s discovery. Merging fiction and reality, it echoes with both characters and history. Dating back to the 11th century, the current structure, attributed to Sir Christopher Wren, has stood since 1687, witnessing not only Austen’s tales but also centuries of real stories.
12. Drury Lane Theatre
For Jane Austen, the theatre was more than just a pastime; it was a source of inspiration. The illustrious Drury Lane Theatre, a short distance from her stays at 10 Henrietta Street, played a significant role in Sense & Sensibility. In the theatre lobby, a crucial scene unfolds as John Willoughby learns of Marianne Dashwood’s illness from Sir John Middleton during their unexpected encounter.
13. Brunswick Square
A focal point of Regency-era social life, Brunswick Square offers a window into the universe portrayed in Jane Austen’s novels. This prestigious residential area used to encapsulate the aspirations of her characters. In Chapter 12 of Emma, Isabella, Emma’s elder sister, and her husband, John Knightley, reside in the distinguished Brunswick Square in Bloomsbury, where she depicts this neighbourhood as “superior to most others!”
14. Grosvenor Street
While Grosvenor Street doesn’t feature explicitly in Jane Austen’s life, its elegant Georgian architecture and affluent surroundings play a role as Charles Bingley’s residence in Pride & Prejudice. This is why after the Bingleys decide to leave Netherfield, Charles’ sister Claire writes to Jane Bennett, informing her of their stay in London over the winter, putting a halt on Jane and Charles’ courtship in the novel.
15. Kensington Gardens
Finally, stroll through Kensington Gardens, where Elinor Dashwood’s contemplative stroll is interrupted by Anne Steele, sister of her romantic rival, with gossip about Lucy Steele and Edward Ferrars in Sense & Sensibility.