Oakley Hall was built in 1795 and its first owners were the Bramston family. Jane Austen was a friend and neighbour of the Bramstons and wrote about visiting them at the hall. On one occasion, Jane told her sister Cassandra, Miss Augusta Bramston "claimed that she thought Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice downright nonsense but expected to find Mansfield Park better”. It is thought that the domineering Mrs Elton (nee Augusta Hawkins) in Emma was named after Miss Bramston.
The Arden Hotel sits on Waterside which would have been part of the busy river basin in Shakepeare's day. Now it faces the Royal Shakepeare Company's Swan Theatre and we can be certain that Shakepeare himself would have stood on this very spot in the seventeenth century. Shakespeare's garden came all the way down what is now called Chapel Lane, a narrow road that separates The Arden from New Place. New Place was the home that Shakespeare built himself when he retired to Stratford in 1613.
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