This milestone anniversary presents a significant opportunity to bring her legacy to even greater prominence – in Hampshire, where she was born and spent most of her life, and in Winchester, where she died. Winchester Cathedral are working alongside many partners, including Winchester City Council and Hampshire County Council. In the course of 2025, there will be a special service at the cathedral, theatre performances, special interest tours, and the unveiling of a Jane Austen statue.
The Year 2025 Marks 250 Years Since The Birth Of Jane Austen
“Winchester Cathedral has the enormous privilege of being the final resting place of Jane Austen, and her life and her legacy live on. We are working with regional and local partners to ensure that Jane’s 250th anniversary celebrations are truly memorable, leaving a legacy for generations to come. I look forward to seeing this most loved of English novelists, daughter of a clergy household, standing in the surrounds of the Close and providing another focal point within Hampshire for visitors.”
The Very Revd Catherine Ogle, Dean Of Winchester
Jane Austen is buried in the north nave aisle of Winchester Cathedral under a memorial stone, which mentions ‘the extraordinary endowments of her mind’ but which fails to pay tribute to her extraordinary achievements as a novelist.
Photo above: Visitors from around the world travel to pay their respects at Jane Austen’s grave inside Winchester Cathedral. Photo taken by Joe Low.
Her grave is a principal destination for many visitors, though it doesn’t do justice to her moral vision or enduring literary legacy. The Cathedral Chapter is therefore working in close collaboration with Martin Jennings, one of the country’s leading figurative sculptors (more recently known for his portrait of King Charles III for the Royal Mint), to develop an outdoor memorial to Austen. We invite you to share your feedback on the sculpture proposal below, under ‘Have your say’.
Most of the funding for this statue has already been secured through donations, grants and pledges. The Chapter is confident that the project will be fully funded before the making of the statue begins in April 2024.
There are no uncontested portraits of Jane Austen, but Jennings has studied the available evidence to produce a likeness. His overall conception, reflected in her expression and posture, emphasises her moral vision and the strength of her literary legacy.
She stands as an authoritative and elegant figure, with her characteristic ringlets and cap, by her famous writing table.
The sculpture aims to represent her as closely to life-size as possible: Austen was about 1.7m (5’ 7”).
To view a picture of the maquette, click the links below. Please note, this will develop as the design is realised at full scale.
Prof Paula Byrne, author of The Real Jane Austen, says:
“The Jane Austen maquette is truly wonderful. It captures Austen’s sparkling intelligence, her slender, upright figure, her lightness of touch, as we see in her novels, and her playfulness. The WOMAN is at the forefront of the sculpture, resplendent in her vigour and energy.”
Alan Titchmarsh, DL, Hon. President Hampshire Gardens Trust, says:
“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.”
Dr Gillian Dow, former Executive Director of Chawton House Library, says:
“I admire the quietly confident Jane Austen depicted by Martin Jennings here. She gazes into the distance, as if she were wishing the manuscripts composed at her writing table good fortune as they travel into the world to make their own way in it.”
© Steve Russell Studios
Have your say
Jennings’ statue would greatly enhance the city centre’s sense of place and add to its already considerable sculptural heritage. The Cathedral Chapter is keen to hear your thoughts on this proposal.
The sculptor himself says about it:
“We are told that Jane Austen had a round face, long nose, large eyes and a small mouth. Her face will need to express both her acuity and her playfulness.
I have represented her rising from her table at Chawton as someone arrives at the door, moving in front of her work as if to disguise it. It is important for me that she should be accompanied by the tools of her trade, so that she is indissolubly associated with her working life.”
You are welcome to share your feedback by mailing YourSay@Winchester-Cathedral.org.uk before March 2024.
You may want to consider the following in your response:
– the memorial sculpture itself
– the location for this memorial in the Cathedral Close
– how to raise the public profile of Jane Austen in Hampshire and Winchester
© Steve Russell Studios
Proposed location of the statue, in the Inner Close, set against the homely backdrop of No 9 the Close.
This spot is near the route of Austen’s funeral procession and the path she would have taken when visiting her nephews in Winchester College or her friends living at the-then number 12.
Discuss the statue with Martin Jennings
There will be an opportunity to discuss the proposed statue with Martin Jennings (pictured), before he begins the project.
The discussion will take place on 26th February at 2.00pm in the Wessex Learning Centre. You can reserve a place to this meeting by emailing Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org
© Royal Mint
Interested in contributing to the sculpture project?
If you would like to support the completion of this exciting project, please contact
Zoe Seenan, Director of Development.