Controversy Surrounds £100,000 Jane Austen Statue Plan at Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral faces backlash over its decision to unveil a £100,000 statue of Jane Austen by Martin Jennings, accused of “cynical cultural misappropriation” and transforming the area into a potential “Disneyland.”

Defending the Tribute: Winchester Cathedral Responds to Critics

Critics condemn the historic cathedral’s plans for a life-sized statue, arguing it could commercialize the Inner Close and attract hordes of “American tourists” taking selfies.

The proposed unveiling coincides with the 250th anniversary of the legendary novelist’s birth.

Dean’s Defense: The Very Rev Catherine Ogle Counters Detractors

The Very Rev Catherine Ogle, Dean of Winchester, defends the statue, emphasizing Jane Austen’s Hampshire roots and her ties to the area.

Ogle asserts that the proposed location in the Inner Close aligns with the route Austen would have taken during her visits, making it a fitting tribute.

She addresses concerns, stating that private donors and grants specifically earmarked for the project fund it.

Sculptor’s Perspective: Martin Jennings Rejects Invasion of Austen’s Privacy

Sculptor Martin Jennings, known for his portrait of King Charles III, defends the project, stating that the statue does not invade Austen’s private personality and reflects her confidence as a writer.

Jennings expresses commitment to the “splendid and sensitive design” and highlights the restrictions of funds to this specific project.

Hijacking Austen’s Brand: Warning from Phil Howe of Hidden Britain Tours

Phil Howe warns Winchester Cathedral against “hijacking” Jane Austen’s brand, drawing parallels to Bath’s Jane Austen Centre and Festival.

He suggests that three memorials in the cathedral might be disproportionate, and the project risks a cynical misappropriation of the novelist’s work.

Jane Austen Society’s Criticism: Elizabeth Proudman and Lizzie Dunford Speak Out

Former chairman of the Jane Austen Society, Elizabeth Proudman, critiques the project, emphasizing Austen’s private nature and arguing against turning the Inner Close into a tourist attraction.

Lizzie Dunford, director of Jane Austen’s House, calls for a statue that embodies Austen’s strength and self-belief, questioning the choice not to depict her writing.

Amidst criticism and differing opinions, Winchester Cathedral faces a challenging decision on whether to proceed with the controversial Jane Austen statue project.

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