Chawton House are hosting an orchard wassail on January 17th. It's an opportunity to enjoy a bit of festivity and celebrate an old tradition. The Elizabethan manor has many apple trees within its walled garden, and they will be front and centre of the wassail celebrations.
An orchard wassail is an old tradition that was performed in cider producing regions during the winter. The first known mention of an orchard Wassail was back in 1585. The tradition has various retellings. Some say that the ceremony requires laying slices of bread amongst the roots and on the branches of the apple trees, and pouring cider over the tree roots as well. While others talk of singing songs and reciting incantations to the trees. The ceremony was believed to bless the trees and guarantee a good season would follow.
This is the third year that Chawton House have held their orchard wassail. The evening will start with a talk about the history of the walled apple orchard before the real festivities begin. Food and drink is also included in the ticket price, with the perfect winter warming choice of hot soup and bread rolls. Tickets are £10 for adults and £7.50 for children between 6-16 years old. Tickets for the wassail can be purchased online, or by calling 01420 541010.
Chawton House is best known for being the home of Jane Austen's older brother, Edward Austen. In recognition of its connection to Austen, it was made the Centre for the Study of Early Women's Writing, 1600-1830, celebrating Austen and other female writers of a similar period. For more events held at the house, or for information about visiting at another time, visit their website.
The period house is located in Alton, it is about 28 miles outside of the Southampton City Centre, and about a 40 minute drive. It's a bit of a drive, but there are other activities at both Chawton House and the surrounding town of Alton that can help you make a day of it.