Sitting With Jane bookbenches are here!

Ark Cancer Centre Charity is proud to be the charity partner for Sitting With Jane – one of the most high-profile projects in a milestone year of events celebrating the life of Jane Austen.

A ‘Wild in Art’ event, being delivered by Destination Basingstoke and in association with Festival Place, Sitting With Jane is a public art trail featuring 24 specially-designed sponsored bookbenches which will all be on display from June 17.

This week, the wonderful bookbenches have started to appear around Basingstoke and Deane. Most of the benches will be located in the town and borough, where Jane was born and lived most of her life, but some are also in Alton, Chawton and Winchester. 

The bookbenches will be on public display until August 31. They will then be auctioned on September 15 and 75 per cent of the proceeds will go to Ark Cancer Centre Charity – leaving a lasting legacy that will help and support local cancer patients and their families.

Ark Cancer Centre Charity trustee Merv Rees said the eventual auction of the bookbenches will deliver a boost to the charity’s £5million fundraising appeal which is helping to fund a unique local cancer treatment centre for Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust residents.

Merv added: “There is no doubt that Sitting With Jane will attract a great deal of attention locally, nationally and internationally. 

“The 24 professionally designed bookbench sculptures will be landmark attractions during the event to mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, and those involved in sponsoring and purchasing them will be contributing to a longer lasting legacy.”

Basingstoke Deane Rotary Club is among the organisations sponsoring one of the bookbenches, and President Alan Gibson is delighted that there will be an eventual direct benefit to Ark Cancer Centre Charity – one of the good causes that the club supports.

Alan said: “The Basingstoke Deane Rotarians have a proud track record of supporting local good causes and important projects, and Sitting With Jane ticks both of those boxes.

“Sitting With Jane is an exciting cultural, educational and legacy initiative that will ultimately benefit Ark Cancer Centre Charity. It is also a great opportunity to raise wider public awareness of what the Rotary Club does, and to show potential members how Rotarians have fun and make a positive difference.”

Anyone who wishes to bid for one of the bookbenches – each of which will hopefully be sold for thousands of pounds – can register their interest by emailing

The September 15 auction will take place at The Ark Conference Centre, which is also one of the bookbench sponsors.

Picture caption: The Sitting With Jane bookbench outside The Ark Conference Centre. You can read more about Sitting With Jane, and find out more about all of the sponsors and artists, at