RESIDENTS of and visitors to Steventon celebrated the life of one of the borough’s most famous authors in the place where she lived and grew up.

Villagers in Steventon held a festival over two weekends in honour of Jane Austen on July 28 and 29, and August 4 and 6, to commemorate the author, who was born and raised in the village.

The village welcomed hundreds of visitors, including the mayor and mayoress of Basingstoke and Deane, to the Jane Austen Festival, to enjoy homemade cakes and teas at the Village Hall while exploring an exhibition of photographs and information about the history of the village and surrounding area.

The highlight of the exhibition was a display of artefacts found by Overton resident, Richard Oram, in the field which the rectory where Jane Austen was born originally stood. There was also a display of artwork by Lydia Fee.

Steventon Church had been decorated with flower displays primarily inspired by Austen’s six novels, but also by various aspects of her life in Steventon with the flowers and vegetables which grew in her garden.

These displays were complemented by paintings by artists Dorothy Dent and Jill Smith.

‘Green Jane,’ a representation of Jane, portrayed in flowers and foliage, stood welcoming visitors outside the church door for a celebration service.

Towards the end of the Sunday afternoon, visitors were able to witness the arrival of a party of a hundred fully-costumed dancers who had been attending the Hampshire Regency Dance weekend, and who performed several dances on the croquet lawn in front of the house in late-afternoon sunshine.

Marilyn Wright, one of the festival’s organisers, said: “It was a truly amazing spectacle, in which one could easily imagine Jane Austen herself strolling amongst the lavender-bordered pathway.”