The novel begins at Kellynch Hall, a fictional estate in Somerset(shire) where Anne Elliot lives with her father, Sir Walter, and elder sister, Elizabeth. Although we can't know for sure if Austen based the house on a real place, some think that Barrington Court fits the bill geographically as it is located about 20 miles from Lyme Regis and 50 miles from Bath. Now owned by the National Trust, this impressive Tudor property featured as Cardnal Wolsey's house in the Wolf Hall miniseries.
"...the remarkable situation of the town, the principal street almost hurrying into the water, the walk to the Cobb, skirting round the pleasant little bay, which, in the season, is animated with bathing machines and company; the Cobb itself, its old wonders and new improvements, with the very beautiful line of cliffs stretching out to the east of the town, are what the stranger's eye will seek; and a very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better." (Persuasion Chapter 11)
Jane Austen visited Lyme Regis in Dorset on two separate occasions in 1803 and 1804 and was instantly taken with it. This pretty coastal village plays a crucial role in the novel. It's here that Anne and Captain Wentworth begin to rekindle their romance and where Louisa Musgrave falls from the Cobb, the iconic harbour wall.
One of Austen's most Bath-centric novels (along with Northanger Abbey), Persuasion delves into the hierarchy of Regency society in the fashionable spa town. Anne doesn't care for Bath and is reluctant to move there. "She disliked Bath, and did not think it agreed with her; and Bath was to be her home." (Persuasion Chapter 2)
Austen uses many real places in Bath including the The Assembly Rooms (pictured above), the Pump Room and Camden Place (now Camden Crescent). And Austen carefully places her characters' homes according to their social status. (This excellent article on Jasna.org offers an in-depth analysis of Austen's use of Bath geography in Persuasion.) Each location seems to have a deeper meaning. So it's perhaps no coincidence when Anne bumps into Captain Wentworth on Union Street towards the end of the novel.
Situated in the heart of the Peak District National Park, Bakewell is a picturesque market town on the River Wye. The town is famed for the eponymous pudding, but Bakewell also lays claim to an important literary link. Jane Austen visited friends here in 1811, while finishing work on Pride and Prejudice. And it’s believed that Bakewell provided the inspiration for Lambton, where Elizabeth Bennett stays with her aunt and uncle on their tour of the Peak District. Austen’s descriptions of Mr Darcy’s Pemberley also bear a striking resemblance to the nearby Chatsworth House.
The novel begins at Norland Park, a fictional estate in Sussex. Austen doesn't describe Norland in great detail, only that it was a "fine old house in the county of Sussex". Having spent most of her life neighbouring Hampshire, Austen would have been fairly familiar with Sussex and we know that she spent some time in Brighton and Worthing.