Houghton Lodge Gardens draw crowds at Jane Austen inspired Regency Picnic celebrations

A day of quintessential English culture, period costume, literary enlightenment, dancing and exquisite picnics were enjoyed by all at Houghton Lodge Gardens Regency Picnic in Stockbridge.

A picnic was chosen to celebrate the 200th anniversary of literary heroine Jane Austen, because it was regarded as much-loved entertainment for society in Regency times. Unlike Jane Austen’s character Emma, who didn’t have a very successful picnic at Box Hill, visitors to the picnic at Houghton Lodge Gardens enjoyed a feast of treats.

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They had a very fine day indeed…

Many of the visitors immersed themselves in the historic vibe by dressing in period costume. They joined The Hampshire Regency Dancers who taught dances such as ‘The Waterloo Waltz Cotillion’ and ‘The Lord Wellington’ named after England’s famous battles, and the aptly named summer dance called ‘Strawberries and Cream’. The Sarah Siddons Fan Club Theatre Company took to the stage to perform ‘Lady Betty’s Picnic’, and Janet Johnstone from Jane Austen Museum provided captivating talks about the latter years of Jane Austen’s life.

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Houghton Lodge Garden’s great lawn which flanks the River Test, hailed as ‘The most romantic river in England’ was sprinkled with rugs and visitors feasted on scrumptious Regency delicacies. There was time to explore the picturesque gardens which were ablaze with colourful bloom and filled the sound of bird song – just as it was in Jane’s Day. Children (and adults!) completing a children’s Regency Trail were rewarded with delicious home-made shortbread by onsite tea room – Honesty at Houghton Lodge Gardens, who also supplied pre-ordered picnic hampers.

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The day of celebrations was a huge success and a fascinating insight in to the era.

Houghton Lodge Gardens are open daily until 1st October

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