While on holiday recently we stumbled across Stoneleigh Abbey although the original Abbey is no longer around and some parts of the building are in private hands and can not be viewed, you can take a tour around the lower floor of the Georgian part of the building and walk around the stunning grounds.
Little did we know when we found the building that we would be walking in the footsteps of Jane Austen. I have long been a fan of Jane Austen but didn’t know of her links to Stoneleigh Abbey before we arrived. However, once we toured the building and heard her own mother’s words about the impression the building and it’s inhabitants had on her (from letters she wrote during their stay), it was as if pages from Jane’s novels were jumping out at me. For 400 years Stoneleigh Abbey was the country seat of Jane Austen’s relatives, the Leighs. In August 1806 Jane, with her mother and sister, travelled to Stoneleigh Abbey in the company of her mother’s cousin, Reverend Thomas Leigh, to secure his inheritance of the estate.
The grounds too could have easily been inspiration for Jane, looking across the Avon, whose course had been altered to make for a more pleasing view it was almost like looking up Box Hill.
The Gatehouse is an architectural reminder that this is much more than a Georgian house.