Jane Austen inspires subway artwork

Wednesday, 23 October, 2019

The wisdom and wit of one of the country's most famous authors has been immortalised in an unlikely literary location - a village underpass.

Memorable quotes from Jane Austen's novels have been inscribed along an underpass linking Alton to her home village of Chawton.

The quotation panels running the length of the underpass were paid for thanks to a fundraising drive spearheaded by The Alton Society along with significant contributions from councillor grants at both East Hampshire District Council and Hampshire County Council.

The project was also supported by the Alton Society itself, Jane Austen's House Museum, Chawton House, the De Laszlo Foundation and a personal contribution from Bob and Karen Booker, members of the Alton Society.

Mary Guyatt, Director at Jane Austen's House Museum, said: “We are delighted with the panels, which have really brightened up the walking route between Alton and Chawton. Our trustees and volunteers assisted in choosing the quotations for the underpass, and all of the contributors had a say in the final design.”

The artwork, prepared by Dataprint in Alton, was brought to life by the team at Hampshire County Council and installed after a week of cleaning, painting and coating in line with the annual maintenance programme.

Katie Childs, Chief Executive at Chawton House, said: “Jane Austen's literary impact can never be underestimated, and to have this visual reminder in the village reinforces her importance in this part of Hampshire.”

Cllr Ken Moon, Economic Development Portfolio Holder at East Hampshire District Council, said: “This artwork supports East Hampshire's tourist economy by enhancing the journey those visitors make between Alton and Chawton.

“It's been a pleasure working so closely with the team and their contractors at Hampshire County Council - they have proactively managed each change in the project and have liaised closely with our team at the district council throughout.”