I note with dismay the news about a Jane Austen sculpture to be erected in the Inner Close in Winchester Cathedral at a cost of £100,000. It seems unnecessarily extravagant.

One junction up the M3 in Basingstoke’s Market Place there is a splendid sculpture by Adam Roud unveiled by Jane Austen biographer Claire Tomalin on July 18, 2017. The Rt Honourable Maria Miller MP initiated the commissioning for the bicentenary of the author’s birth.

Jane Austen spent her final weeks in Winchester, writing a poem deploring their citizens' gambling habits and has two memorials to her memory in the cathedral. At the time of her death, she was not recognised as a writer, buried as the daughter of her rector father and only later was a memorial placed on an adjacent wall acknowledging her as an author. Three memorials seem disproportionate.

READ MORE HERE: Winchester Cathedral response to criticism

Winchester has monuments a plenty to satisfy tourists; King Alfred and a dubious Arthurian Round Table. The Disneyfication of the cathedral’s Inner Close has been rightly deplored by Jane Austen expert, Elizabeth Proudman.

Winchester need not follow Bath’s hijacking of the Jane Austen brand with a cynical cultural misappropriation commemorating the work of one of the world’s most famous female novelists.

Basingstoke is proud to have created a sculpture commemorating her links with the town where she danced because it was in north Hampshire where she wrote her early novels and spent her first twenty-five formative years.

If you want to see a fine, fitting, elegant and modest sculpture of Jane Austen come to Basingstoke!

Phil Howe B.A (Hons), FHEA, RSA,

Jane Austen Tours

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