IT HAS been dubbed the ‘Jane Effect’.

Throughout the summer, Basingstoke and Deane has been basking in the celebration of the life of Jane Austen, and now the town is really starting to see the impact the author has had.

Since the unveiling of the first ever, of its kind, Jane Austen sculpture, there has been a buzz around the Top of The Town, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

With the connecting exhibition at the Willis Museum about the author’s links to the town, the number of visitors to the town’s cultural heart has more than doubled.

The ‘Jane Effect’ has led to visitor figures increasing by 80 per cent in July, with a daily average of 200 people heading to the Willis Museum, compared with around 80 visitors a day at quieter times.

This, tied in with the borough’s Sitting with Jane project, has led many to say the town has reclaimed Jane as one of Basingstoke’s own.

Felicity Edwards, managing director at Destination Basingstoke - which spearheaded the Sitting with Jane project - said: “The impact of Sitting With Jane has been phenomenal and it has done exactly what we wanted – which is to remind the world that Jane Austen is part of Basingstoke’s history that we should all be proud of and celebrate.

“I can walk down the street and overhear people talking about Sitting With Jane, which is an amazing feeling.”

Felicity told The Gazette that to date more than 13,000 visits to BookBenches have been recorded on the specialist app.

Widespread media coverage including in The Gazette has put Basingstoke in the eyes of the world over the summer, with the Willis Museum’s Facebook video of sculpture unveiling receiving more than 100,000 views to date.

Basingstoke Together, which aims to promote businesses in the area said the ‘Jane Effect’ has been great for the town.

A spokesperson said: “With the introduction of the Sitting with Jane BookBenches and the sculpture of Jane in the Market Place, visitors have been captivated this summer by Basingstoke’s hidden gem. The increase in footfall, as a result of ‘The Jane Effect’ is significant and has not only cemented Jane Austen’s position here in Basingstoke but has allowed visitors to discover Basingstoke’s historic heart at the Top of Town.”

As part of the celebrations of 200 years since the author;s death, the borough’s annual Basingstoke Festival was focuses around Jane, with various events showcasing her work and her life.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s cabinet member responsible for arts, heritage and Top of the Town, councillor Terri Reid said: “It has been thrilling to see the Top of the Town bustling with more visitors than ever before this summer.

“Jane Austen was born in the borough, spent more than half her life here and drafted some of her greatest works here.

“We are immensely proud of Jane’s strong connection to Basingstoke and our cultural tributes to her legacy to mark the 200th anniversary of her death have captivated residents and visitors alike.

“By coming to see the marvellous sculpture of Jane in Market Square and finding out at the museum how Jane shopped and attended balls in the Top of the Town, we have really captured people’s imaginations and, as a result, the area has thrived too.”

Cllr Reid added: “This ‘Jane Effect’ has allowed us to showcase the very best of what the borough has to offer and I hope it will encourage more people to visit very soon.”

For more information on Top of the Town events, visit