The drawing room, derived from the 16th century term “withdrawing room,” was a room used by the owner or his wife to “withdraw” for more privacy. The Hammond-Harwood House has many English pieces in the collection that reflect the taste and style of the Regency Period drawing room. This space was one of the common gathering places for welcoming guests and served as a place where women could talk and entertain, do needlework, play cards, or retire from the table after dinner to allow an interval for the men to drink and discuss business and politics.
Jane Austen makes references to drawing rooms in her novels, particularly in Pride and Prejudice as she describes activities between Mr. Darcy, Miss Bingley and Elizabeth, while much of Emma takes place in a drawing room. Social interactions were defined by protocol, but décor was also important. Usually the room would be centered by a fireplace and furnished with the owner’s best art and furniture.
Although Jane Austen did not live in a grand-style mansion, she certainly visited many of them and used those settings for her characters. Our interpretation of a Jane Austen drawing room is more modest and closer to the lifestyle she lived in Chawton Cottage in Hampshire, England. Included in the exhibition are ancestral portraits typical of the period, fine china and silver, tables and garnitures that reflect the activities and the sentiment of her novels.
Exhibition runs March 31 until December 31, 2023
Open during museum hours – noon to 5 p.m. daily, except Tuesdays.
Special Jane Austen tours are available throughout the exhibition.
Special thanks to: