Wyards Farm is an 18th Century house, hidden away between the village of Beech and the town of Alton.
Jane Anna Elizabeth Austen was Jane Austen’s niece. Known as Anna, she was born in 1793 to Jane’s eldest brother James and his wife Anne Mathew. When Anne died in 1795, Anna was just two years old and was sent to live with her Austen family at Steventon before her father remarried.
She married Benjamin Lefroy in November 1814, and came to live at Wyards the following year. The move was a happy one, and their daughter Anna Jemima was born the same year. A second daughter followed, and the couple had seven children before Ben died aged 38 in 1829.
Wyards is within walking distance to Chawton, and there were many visits between the two homes. Anna was also a keen writer, and she would often ask Jane’s advice on characters and plots.
The Jane Austen Society wrote in 1958
“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 18th century, sash windows were added though the leaded casements were retained.
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 relationship 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.”
I mean to take to riding the Donkey
Only the weather halted the visits between the two homes, and Jane shows her sense of fun in a letter to Fanny Knight, another favourite niece in March 1817,
“I have a scheme however for accomplishing more, as the weather grows springlike. I mean to take to riding the Donkey. It will be more independent & less troublesome than the use of the Carriage, & I shall be able to get about with Aunt Cassandra in her walks to Alton and Wyards-“
Anna painted a picture of the house and garden whilst she lived there, and the view she chose is little changed today.
If you would like to visit Wyards, tours of the house and gardens are being offered as part of Jane Austen Regency Week.
Or you can stay overnight for Bed and Breakfast .