A UNIQUE facility to celebrate Jane Austen has been officially unveiled in the author’s birthplace.

A previously disused red telephone box in Steventon has been converted in to a Jane Austen Information Centre and book exchange and the new look for the universally recognisable box was opened on Saturday, July 14.

The Mayor of Basingstoke and Deane, Councillor Paul Frankum, and mayoress, Cllr Jane Frankum, were on hand to cut the ribbon in the village which Jane Austen called home for the first 25 years of her life.

Funding for the renovation, completed by Allan Richardson from Basingstoke, was provided by Hampshire County Council and Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, with the box now filled with leaflets and maps and being used as a place for people to exchange books.

Cllr Peter Lees, chairman of Steventon Parish Council, said: “What was an eyesore in the middle of the village has been transformed into something that we can truly be proud of.”

Later this year, Steventon will host a Jane Austen Festival over two weekends - July 28-30 and August 4-6.

The festival will include a flower festival of displays inspired by the author, musical and theatrical performances, a local history exhibition, an afternoon of homemade teas and performances by the Steventon Players in Ashe Park Gardens and special church services.

For more information go to steventonvillage.co.uk.