Thanks to a £10,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the foundations of the former rectory where Jane Austen lived are being uncovered, and a plan of the building is being created.
Hampshire-based Archaeo Briton has been planning the investigations for over a year and thought funding would not be possible until the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation came to the rescue. "It was a real pleasure to visit the site, as I am a direct descendant of Jane Austen's brother, Edward. His daughter Fanny was my grandfather's grandmother. It is one of those coincidences that I am now the MP for the area where the Austen's spent much of their life, and it was marvellous to find out more about the rectory."
Although the original shape of the building was recorded on the local map in the early 18 hundreds, this was not to scale. The few drawings of the building made by different artists also appear contradictory.
"Part of the contour of the building has been found, together with many bottles and clay pipes." Jane Austen lived at the rectory from 1775 to 1801, when her father retired and moved the family to Bath.
Three of Jane Austen's six novels were begun there, while she was living at the rectory, which was demolished early in the 19th century, shortly after the family moved to Bath.