Wyards Farm Bed and Breakfast and Jane Austen
"I mean to take to riding the donkey; it will be more independent and less troublesome than the use of the carriage, and I shall be able to get about with Aunt Cassandra in her walks to Alton and Wyards."
Painting of Wyards Farm (1815) by Anna Lefroy, Jane Austen's niece
Extract from The Jane Austen Society Report for 1958
Jane Austen and Wyards
Wyards is a house of Hampshire, red brick, of mediaeval foundations with Tudor additions; it received its present appearance in the 1680's except that in the XVIII century, sash windows were added though the leaded casements were retained. Beautifully restored by its present owners, Mr and Mrs. Hubert Howard, Wyards has the particular interest that it was a house well known to Jane Austen during the last two years of her life. In 1815, it was a farm-house, and part of it was rented by young Mr. and Mrs. Ben Lefroy.
The latter had been Anna Austen, the daughter of Jane's eldest brother James by his first wife. Anna's connection with her aunt was extremely close. When she was left motherless at two years old, she was sent to Steventon Rectory where she was the special care of her aunts Cassandra and Jane, then twenty-one and nineteen.
Jane Austen was born on 16 December 1775 in the village of Steventon in Hampshire. She was one of eight children of a clergyman and grew up in a close-knit family. She began to write as a teenager. In 1801 the family moved to Bath. After the death of Jane's father in 1805 Jane, her sister Cassandra and their mother moved several times eventually settling in Chawton, near Alton.
Jane's brother Henry helped her negotiate with a publisher and her first novel, 'Sense and Sensibility', appeared in 1811. Her next novel 'Pride and Prejudice', which she described as her "own darling child" received highly favourable reviews. 'Mansfield Park' was published in 1814, then 'Emma' in 1816. 'Emma' was dedicated to the prince regent, an admirer of her work. All of Jane Austen's novels were published anonymously.
In 1816, Jane began to suffer from ill-health, probably due to Addison's disease. She travelled to Winchester to receive treatment, and died there on 18 July 1817. Two more novels, 'Persuasion' and 'Northanger Abbey' were published posthumously and a final novel was left incomplete.
Jane Austen House Museum Hampshire - http://www.jane-austens-house-museum.org.uk/