PLANS to put up a life-sized statue of Jane Austen at Winchester Cathedral along the path of her funeral cortege have resurfaced. 

It is hoped the statue will be erected in 2025 in the Inner Close, next to number 9, to mark the 250th anniversary of her birth in 1775. 

It is not the first time that plans for a Jane Austen memorial have been proposed. 

A previous statue plan was scrapped in 2019 after public feedback on the design. 

Today, after years of work, the project has resurfaced with a more elegant design by the same sculptor Martin Jennings. 

Hampshire Chronicle: Martin Jennings and the proposed location Martin Jennings and the proposed location (Image: Winchester Cathedral)

As the first pictures emerged of the proposed statue, in a maquette form, Canon Roland Riem, Vice-Dean at Winchester Cathedral, said: "Winchester Cathedral Chapter is delighted to be reviving this project, in a greatly revised form, as a lasting contribution to the 250th anniversary celebrations of Jane Austen’s birth.

"As Martin Jennings has recently been trusted with the King’s portrait, so I hope he will be trusted to deliver a stunning memorial sculpture of Austen for Winchester and Hampshire.

"What a joy it will be for its visitors from 2025 to meet there a woman confident of her place at the table of Britain’s greatest novelists."

Martin is a notable sculptor who also created the statue of John Betjeman at St Pancras railway station, unveiled in 2007, and the statue of Philip Larkin at Hull Paragon Interchange station was presented in 2010. 

He also designed the first official coin and postage stamp portraits of Charles III. 

Martin said: "I will do everything I can to help this project succeed. Success for me means making a work of art which honours Jane Austen and pays tribute to her links with this city and its cathedral.

"The cathedral’s historical collection of sculpture mostly recognises the achievements of men, so I am very glad to have the opportunity to add a representation of this justly celebrated woman." 

The 5'7" statue will represent her rising from her table at her home in Chawton as someone arrives at the door, moving in front of her work as if to disguise it, as she kept her writing private. 

He said: "From reading her novels, I wanted to give a sense of the moral vision running through them all. Perhaps this is most expressed in the sculpture in her posture and gaze.

Hampshire Chronicle: Jane Austin, by Martin Jennings

"By erecting a bronze statue of her in a location of such distinction, we hope to communicate her moral vision and literary genius not only to today’s visitors but to future generations as well."

The project has already attracted commendations from artists, academics and literacy experts, such as Prof Paula Bryne, author of The Real Jane Austen, Prof Emma Clery, author of Jane Austen: The Banker's Sister, Dr Gillian Dow, former executive director of Chawton House library, plus more.

Hampshire County Council is set to support the £100,000 plans because it hopes it will attract visitors to the county. A grant of £10,000 is being proposed by the leader and executive member for Hampshire 2050, Cllr Rob Humby.

The statue will cost £100,000, made up of £60,000 for the design and model and a further £40,000 for casting and installation.

A total of £73,000 has been raised from private donations, and a contribution of £10,000 has been sought from Winchester City Council.

Hampshire Chronicle: Jane Austin by Martin Jennings

Jane Austen died in 1817 in Winchester, after writing titles such as Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1815), Persuasion (1817) and Northanger Abbey (1817).

She is widely accepted to be Britain's greatest female novelist. She also has links across Hampshire with connections to Basingstoke and Chawton. 

Austen is buried in the north nave aisle of Winchester Cathedral under a memorial stone. 

A period of consultation will now take place, with a new website being launched by the cathedral soon to allow the public to view the plans and submit comments. 

A series of consultation meetings are also set to take place, with the consultation due to end on March 31.