A HAMPSHIRE museum that was saved by the public from closure during lockdown has launched a virtual tour.
The Jane Austen Museum in Chawton was on the brink of shutting over the summer when benefactors from across the globe rallied to raise almost £100,000.
Despite celebrating being able to stay open, visitor numbers to the former home of the celebrated author are still limited.
To allow fans who chipped in to still experience what it has to offer, the museum has launched a new interactive experience called the Jane Austen’s House From Home series, rewarding worldwide fans with a selection of online experiences.
Visitors can embark on a 360-degree tour of the red brick cottage where Austen wrote all of her six major novels on a ‘small and fragile’ 12-sided walnut table.
The tour – made possible thanks to support from Art Fund – includes detailed information on the house and an audio guide to liven the experience, which includes readings from the Author’s personal letters.
A 360-degree Cat’s Eye Audio Tour is also available for children, allowing them to explore the garden under the guidance and knowledge of the museum cat.
The museum’s collection and interpretation manager, Sophie Reynolds, said: “With museum visits much reduced in the face of the global pandemic, our new Jane Austen’s House From Home resources make the house accessible to people around the world from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
“Of course a visit to Jane Austen’s House From Home does not replace the magic of a trip to the house itself, but we hope that it will keep our dedicated and passionate audience happy until they are able to visit in person.”
Austen is best known for her books Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and her debut novel Sense and Sensibility, which was published in 1811.
The museum reopened on August 8 after raising £95,949, with new social distancing measures and a one-way system, as well as the requirement for visitors to wear face masks.
The fundraising campaign by Art Fund, the charity which runs the museum, was buoyed by the celebrity endorsements of TV host Alan Titchmarsh, historian Lucy Worsley and comedian David Baddiel.
Virtual exhibitions of Jane Austen’s Artful Letters, and an exploration into her teenage years in A Choice Collection of Curiosities are also available on the museum website.
The virtual tour was created by Pan3Sixty Limited with illustrator James Robinson, and is accessible via the museum’s website.
Visit https://janeaustens.house/ to explore the options.