Still time to register for Sitting With Jane auction

The final chapter in the Sitting With Jane story will be written on Friday – but there is still time to get in the running to bid for one of the unique Jane Austen-themed bookbenches and support a local cancer charity.

On September 15, 22 bookbenches will be sold at auction and 75 per cent of the proceeds raised will go to the Sitting With Jane charity partner Ark Cancer Centre Charity – leaving a lasting legacy that will help and support cancer patients and their families as Ark is raising £5million towards a unique local NHS cancer treatment centre.

Last weekend, Sitting With Jane fans visited the Farewell Event at Milestones Museum when members of the public were able to see all of the bookbenches ahead of the September 15 auction.

The Farewell Event provided Sitting With Jane fans with the opportunity they needed to complete the bookbench trail and unlock the final apps. The bookbenches were placed in various locations around Milestones and were an added attraction for weekend visitors.

A ‘Wild in Art’ event, delivered by Destination Basingstoke and in association with Festival Place, thousands of people enjoyed going around the Sitting With Jane bookbench trail between June 17 and August 30, and it is hoped that the popularity of the bookbenches will now be reflected in a successful auction for the charity partner.

Merv Rees, Ark Cancer Centre Charity trustee, said: “Sitting With Jane has attracted a great deal of attention locally, nationally and internationally, and the Farewell Event gave many people the opportunity to complete the trail.

“Now the focus is on Friday’s charity auction when hopefully each of the bookbenches will raise several thousand pounds, which will make a significant difference to Ark’s campaign to help fund the new cancer treatment centre.

“If a business or individual donor wants to support Ark, leave a lasting legacy, and own a unique piece of Jane Austen 200 history, then buying a bookbench is a great way to achieve all of these goals.”

The auction will take place at The Ark Conference Centre, in Basingstoke. It is being organised by well-known fine art auctioneers and valuers Andrew Smith & Son, from Itchen Stoke, near Winchester.

The September 15 auction will start at 7.30pm and the registration desk will be open from 6.30pm-7pm. The auction will be live-streamed on facebook.

Bidders will also be able to post bids online or by telephone on the night, but in order to bid for one of the bookbenches, potential bidders must register before the event by going to

While auction ticket holders will be able to register to bid on the night in person, they need to do so before the auction gets underway, and they need to bring two forms of ID, including a utility bill. All other registration or commission bids must be with the auctioneers by noon on Friday, September 15.

Picture caption:

The Sitting With Jane bookbenches were on display in Milestones Museum over the Farewell Event last weekend, ahead of the auction which takes place at The Ark Conference Centre on the evening of Friday, September 15.