Jane Austen’s House in Chawton – Jane Austen’s home for the last eight years of her life and where she lived, wrote and published her novels – will present a new immersive experience for the festive season, bringing the famous Christmas scenes from Emma to life.

Jane Austen wrote Emma in 1814 while living at Jane Austen’s House in Chawton and it was published on December 23 in 1815. This year, from November 23, key scenes from the novel will be brought to life using specially commissioned audio, along with decorations and scents.

Immersive installation: Christmas at Randalls

Moving from room to room, visitors will follow the story of Emma’s Christmas Eve dinner at Randalls and the fateful snowstorm that follows. The story will be told through a specially-created audio installation that brings three key Christmas scenes from Emma to life within the very rooms where the novel was written, with festive decorations and seasonal scents echoing the motifs in the story.

The audio installation will feature Sally Scott (The Tower, Trauma) as the matchmaking heroine Emma Woodhouse and Bertie Carvel (The Crown, Dalgleish) as Mr Elton – the over-confident clergyman who proposes to her on Christmas Eve. The cast will also feature Carlyss Peer as the narrator and Dominic Gerrard as Mr John Knightley.

Sounds and scents from the story, from creaking carriages to roaring coal fires, will contribute to the immersive effect throughout the house. Hand-crafted decorations made from discarded copies of Emma will echo themes from the story, adding another layer to the experience and nodding to the 18th-century passion for paper crafting. A first edition of Emma will also be on display.

Sally Scott said: “What a thrill to be a part of this inventive project, bringing Jane Austen’s characters to life in the very rooms in which they were first conceived.”

‘Christmas at Randalls’ will run from Thursday, November 23 to Sunday, January 7, 2024, and is included with house admission.

Festive events

Jane Austen’s House will also present a range of festive events, including candlelit house tours on December 2 and 9, when visitors can enjoy an atmospheric tour of Jane Austen’s home by flickering candlelight, followed by mulled wine and mince pies in the Historic Kitchen.

Jane Austen’s birthday falls on Saturday, December 16. This year visitors to Jane Austen’s House can enjoy an early-morning breakfast tour of the house. In the evening, Jane Austen’s House will once again host its popular annual Virtual Birthday Party, bringing together fans and supporters from across the globe for music, readings, talks, games and merriment! 

This year’s special guests include historian and broadcaster Lucinda Hawksley, novelist Jessica Bull and actor Rebecca Tanwen.

Winter opening hours at Jane Austen’s House:

  • ‘Christmas at Randalls’ will run from Thursday, November 23 to Sunday, January 7, 2024. Included with house admission.
  • Saturday, November 4 to Sunday, December 17: Open Thursday to Sunday.
  • Monday, December 18 to Wednesday, December 27: Closed.
  • Thursday, December 28 to Saturday, December 30: Open.

All events can be booked at www.janeaustens.house/visit/whats-on/