Chawton House, the Elizabethan mansion once owned by Jane Austen’s brother, is recruiting volunteers for a year of special celebrations.

This year is the bicentenary of the author’s arrival in the village of Chawton, where she spent much of her literary life.

She went to the village at the invitation of her brother, Edward, who had inherited the manor of Chawton after being adopted by the childless Knight family.

Living in a cottage on the estate with her mother and sister, Jane attended many family gatherings at the Great House, as it was known in those days.

Now restored to its former glory and home to a rare collection of early English women’s writing, Chawton House is to host a variety of events in the coming year, including a Regency card party, a writers’ workshop and a costume ball.

There are open sessions at Chawton House for potential new volunteers on Tuesday, January 20, and Thursday, January 22. For more information, ring 01420 541010 or e-mail