A TV gardener has thrown his support behind plans for a statue of Jane Austen to mark 250 years since her birth.

Alan Titchmarsh is backing plans for the statue proposed by Winchester Cathedral with the hopes of it being sited in the Inner Close during the milestone year, 2025.

Many Chronicle readers have written letters to raise concerns about the plan and its location. 

The statue has been designed by Martin Jennings, who is best known for his statue of Sir John Betjeman at St Pancras Station and twice winning the Marsh Award for Excellence in Public Sculpture. 

A previous plan for a Jane Austen statue, also by Martin Jennings, was scrapped in 2019 after the design received criticism. 

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Hampshire Chronicle: Jane Austen statue

Mr Titchmarsh, honorary president of the Hampshire Gardens Trust, said: “Sometimes a statue is just the focus a garden needs to give it a unique sense of place. What could be more fitting than a graceful memorial to Jane Austen, so near to where she died and was buried, in such beautiful and historic surroundings.”

Mr Titchmarsh lives near Alton and is Chancellor Emeritus of Winchester University. 

The public consultation with Mr Jennings about his Jane Austen sculpture has been fixed for 2pm Monday, February 26 at the Wessex Centre. 

In a letter to the Chronicle, Reverend Canon Dr Roly Riem said: “A concern worth addressing earlier than the consultation is whether this sculpture, to be installed in 2025, fits the monastic character of the Inner Close. This character was of course considerably altered by the 16th Century Reformation, when public access was first granted to this land – an undoubted change for the better. 

“Monastic buildings were rebuilt as residential homes for clergy and land parcelled up into gardens. A hundred years ago, the front garden of No 9 The Close, on which the Austen sculpture will be sited, was private land surrounded by iron railings, the footings of which can still be seen in the masonry plinth around the lawn.

“The Inner Close should be seen, then, not only as the former site of two medieval cloisters, but also as a swathe of gardens, some parts of which have recently been opened for the pleasure of the public. In this respect, fine artworks in gardens are a worthy addition to The Close.”