Edmonton Jane Austen fan dreams of buying $10M house used in BBC miniseries

A Jane Austen fan who has long dreamed of hosting Regency-era events in an English mansion has her sights set on a home with a connection to Pride and Prejudice.

Tara Rout hosts Pride and Prejudice balls in Edmonton, but she has bigger plans

Tara Rout, of the event-planning company Regency Encounters, dances at a Pride and Prejudice Ball at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald in Edmonton. (Romy Young)

A Jane Austen fan who has long sought an English mansion to host themed Regency-era events has her sights set on a home with a connection to Pride and Prejudice.

"When this came on the market, it was kind of like the stars aligning," Tara Rout said Monday on CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

It's the ultimate Jane Austen fantasy, to waltz inside the Longbourn Manor in England. We'll talk to a woman in Edmonton who's raising money to buy the house where Ms. Bennett met Mr. Darcy. 7:54

Rout runs Regency Encounters, an event-planning company in Edmonton that celebrates the time period between 1811 and 1820.

During those years, sometimes referred to as the Regency era, King George III's son ruled as the Prince Regent.

This was also the Austen age; four of her novels were published between 1811 and the author's death in 1817.

Longbourn for sale

Luckington Court, the property Rout covets, is in a village about two hours west of London.

The stone country house has eight bedrooms, seven bathrooms and sits on a large estate with five cottages, an orchard, a rose garden and a tennis court.

It also has a Jane Austen connection.

It was used as the setting for Longbourn (the Bennet family estate) in the 1995 BBC television series Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle.

"There's no other house that would be better for this," Rout said.

Rout's ambitious plan is to crowdfund $11 million for the property, which has been on the market for more than a year, and run it as a wedding venue, retreat and event centre for Austen fans.

Her Kickstarter campaign offers backers virtual visits, books, afternoon tea, professional photography and full-house rentals.

If the campaign succeeds, Rout plans to restore the home's interior to the way it appeared in the film, install motion-sensitive speakers in the driveway that play music from the series, and outfit staff in period costumes.

She's already lined up staff and picked a real estate agent.

Appetite for Austen

Austen aficionados gather every fall for a 10-day festival in Bath — 27 kilometres southwest of Luckington Court —where Austen lived for a time and set two of her books.

Regency Encounters hosts regular Pride and Prejudice-themed balls (with dancing and live music) in Edmonton at the Fairmont Hotel Macdonald.

Pride and Prejudice balls celebrate the decade between 1811 and 1820 when King George III's son ruled as the Prince Regent and four of Austen's novels were published. (Romy Young)

As of Monday, the Longbourn Kickstarter campaign had raised about $19,000 from 16 backers. The campaign has a deadline of July 10.

Though the house comes with a high price tag, Rout said she thinks a purchase is "absolutely in the realm of possibility."

"People love this," she said. "If it's not, and I'm wrong, oh well."