PUPILS from Chawton CE Primary School formed a guard of honour to welcome The Duchess of Cornwall to Jane Austen’s House in Chawton yesterday (Wednesday).

A chance to present her with flowers fell to the school’s youngest and oldest pupils – Cecily Hook, four, and Holly Bayliss, 11.

The duchess approached the museum to request a visit, citing a particular interest in materials about Pride and Prejudice and a love of Jane’s writing in general.

She saw a rarely-viewed first edition copy of Pride and Prejudice – Jane’s first novel, which was published in three volumes – and the letter Jane wrote to her sister Cassandra in 1813 stating she had received the first copy of the book, announcing this as the arrival of her “own darling child from London”.

Also on show were a first-edition copy of Jane’s novel Emma and the white shirt worn by actor Colin Firth as he portrayed Mr Darcy swimming in a lake in the BBC’s 1995 television adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

Jane Austen’s House director Lizzie Dunford said: “That shirt is such an iconic piece of costume design which alerted so many people to Austen’s legacy. We have a phenomenal collection of Austen letters so it was wonderful to be able to bring them out and share them with Her Royal Highness.”