Did Jane Austen play sports? Chawton House’s latest exhibition, A Costume of Sport, explores typical physical exercises practiced by women in Regency times and what they wore while doing them.
From playing cricket in high collars and top hats to swimming in long flannel dresses, the costume has been slow to adapt to the demands of physical exercise. This exhibition, open from today (Thursday) until September 4, features sporting attire from the Regency through to the early 20th century, using costumes, paintings, equipment and fashion prints .
As well as items from the Chawton House collection, items on display include loans from Marylebone Cricket Club, Jane Austen’s House and the Hampshire Cultural Trust, as well as a costume worn in the ITV and Britbox adaptation of Sanditon.
Curator Clio O’Sullivan said: “Sport in Regency times was an important and enjoyable part of life. Jane Austen makes several references to sports in her letters and novels, including an intriguing reference to “baseball”! I am delighted to bring together such an exciting array of illustrative objects.
“We are fortunate to have exceptional loans on display, including a beautiful hand-painted fan from the Hampshire Cultural Trust and a riding coat that once belonged to Jane Austen’s brother from Jane Austen’s House collection. What excites me particularly, these are the portraits on display.