The novelist, Jane Austen (1775-1817), was a frequent visitor to Goodnestone Park in the 1790s and early years of the 19th century. She began writing her first novel, Pride and Prejudice, immediately after staying at Goodnestone in 1796.
Jane's eldest brother, Edward, had married Elizabeth, one of the daughters of the house, and the couple began their married life at nearby Rowling. Elizabeth's widowed mother lived at the Dower House - Goodnestone Farm - and Jane Austen wrote several letters from here.
30th August 1805
We have walked to Rowling on each of the last two days after dinner, and very great was my pleasure in going over the house and grounds.
The novelist took an active part in local social life. In addition to the Goodnestone Fair, held each year at Michaelmas, there were balls at Canterbury - and at Goodnestone itself.
5th September 1796
We dined at Goodnestone and in the evening danced two country dances... I opened the Ball with Edward Bridges.