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Jane Austen and Tonbridge

Literary Walks from Kent Libraries & Archives

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 2.4 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly

Overview : 
The 2.4 mile (3.8km) circular walk begins and ends at Tonbridge Library. We hope this walk will whet your appetite to read more... more »

Distance: 2.4 miles / 3.8km.
Terrain: Pavements and surfaced paths, with road crossings
Parking: There a various paid parking in... more »

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Points of Interest

2. Tonbridge Library

Tonbridge was one of the first towns in Kent to set up a public library service, in 1882. The library has been operating from its present site in Avebury Avenue since 1900. The library holds material on Jane Austen’s life and links with the town.

You can collect a free printed version of this guide from Tonbridge Library, subject to... More

3. The park

In the nineteenth century, this Park was Tonbridge Racecourse. In Jane Austen’s day, it was part of the Castle Estate.
Tonbridge has been a market town for centuries, and, despite modern additions, it has over a hundred and fifty listed buildings, some of which would have been familiar to the Austen family.
Walking in London's parks was a... More

George Austen’s cousin, the Revd Henry Austen, married Mary Hooker in 1763. Her family owned Tonbridge Castle. Henry and Mary retired to Tonbridge after moving between parishes in West Kent, and their son Edgar attended Tonbridge School. The castle was built at the time of the Norman Conquest. Stone from the towers, walls and keep was used in ... More

5. No. 174 High Street

The building that stood upon this site in the eighteenth century was partly destroyed by fire in 1997, and has since been demolished. Although it is not certain, this is believed to have been the home of Jane’s grandfather, William Austen, who was a surgeon. His children, Jane’s father George and his sisters Leonora and Philadelphia, lived here ... More

6. 180 High Street and 182 High Street

A house known as Fosse Bank, named after the town’s early defences, stood on the site of No. 182 High Street. It is believed that the Revd Henry Austen lived here with his wife, Mary Hooker. Only three of their five children
survived infancy. Their only son Edgar was educated at Tonbridge School, following in his father’s footsteps. While he... More

7. 186 High Street - Blair House

Blair House was the home of Jane’s great uncle Thomas Austen. Thomas, an apothecary, lived in Tonbridge all his adult life and is buried in the parish churchyard. It is likely that he and his wife, Elizabeth Burgess, lived here when they were first married. Their son Henry, later the Revd Henry, lived here before going to Tonbridge School.

8. Tonbridge School

Tonbridge School was founded by Sir Andrew Judde in 1553. George Austen’s cousin Henry was the first of the family to be educated here. George started at the school while Henry was Head Boy. On completing his education, George won a school scholarship and bursary, which enabled him to go to Oxford University.
After gaining his degree, he... More

9. Ferox Hall

Ferox Hall (Ferox meaning the great lake trout) was owned by the Danvers family in the eighteenth century. It was their niece, Susannah Kelk, who married Jane’s grandfather William Austen, becoming stepmother to George Austen and his siblings.

10. Chauntlers

Before her marriage to Jane’s greatgrandfather John Austen, her great grandmother Elizabeth Weller lived at Chauntlers, a large property that has since been divided into two houses: The Priory and The Red House. Elizabeth was left almost penniless after the death of her husband, receiving no help from her own family, despite their wealth. She... More

11. The Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul

The Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul is a place of worship that has been at the heart of Tonbridge for about 900 years. The original Norman church, built in the early twelfth century, forms the chancel of the present building.

The church was enlarged and altered over the following centuries. In 1820, alterations were made to the nave roof ... More

12. Powells (now Lyons)

The old building numbered 23, with white walls and an arched recess, was the home of Elizabeth Weller's eldest daughter, Betty. She married George Hooper, a lawyer, and their son, also George is commemorated in St Peter's and St Paul's Church. Jane's father George Austen came to live here after the death of his parents.

The question remains as to... More

13. High Street

Above the modern shops, cafe and bars you can still see the historic skyline of Tonbridge High Street.

Please cross the High Street at proper crossing points and take care.

14. Boat trips

You can hire a row boat from here to row around Tonbridge Park.