Let’s be clear. Jane spent the last eight weeks of her life in Winchester; the family spent eight unhappy years in Bath.

In 1809, wealthy brother Edward offered Mrs Austen and her daughters a small house in Chawton – now the lovely Jane Austen House Museum.

But she belongs in Basingstoke & Deane.

Born in Steventon in 1775, she lived here until she was 25. Her first impressions of dances took place in the homes of friends, or Basingstoke’s town hall – rarely in the grand houses which she wrote about. She drafted three novels here before 1800, with characteristic wit and sharpness.

The Town Hall and Assembly Room where Jane and Cassandra went to dances was in Market Place. Girls were always chaperoned at dances and if Mrs Austen could not attend, then Mrs Clerk from Worting House obliged. The chaperone had to be a married woman. The local gentry had a duty to patronise the balls.

George Austen bought his daughter a writing-slope from John Ring in Church Street; he attended a Club which met at The Crown (Joice’s Yard); Dr John Lyford, the family doctor, lived in Cross Street; Jane shopped in Overton and Basingstoke, taking advantage of her mother feeling unwell on a coach journey, waiting for Dr Lyford.

She used Mrs Martin’s Library and Mrs Ryder’s and Miss Wood’s shops. Jane may have visited Mrs Russell in Goldings, where occasionally a dance was held. Oakley Hall, where the Bramston family lived, was much visited as were Deane and Ashe Rectory.

Jane Austen’s romance with Tom Lefroy began at a dance at Ashe Rectory, where his uncle was Vicar. She was just 20. He had no money and that was the end of it.

In 1802 she visited Catherine and Alethea Bigg at Manydown. Their brother, Harris, proposed to Jane and she accepted. The reasons for her acceptance were probably almost entirely to do with financial security for her mother and unmarried sister. She broke off the engagement the next morning and fled to her brother at Steventon and begged to be taken home to Bath.

The wonderful book bench trail of 2017 is a great memory.

Jane Austen’s international status began here in Basingstoke & Deane. A trail of her life in Basingstoke town can be found at https://www.bas-herit-soc.org/temp.html.