It's the final countdown to the Sitting With Jane auction

The final countdown to the Sitting With Jane bookbench has begun - and now it's just nine days until the bookbenches are auctioned to raise money for a much-needed local cancer treatment centre.

On Friday, September 15, 22 bookbenches will be sold at auction and 75 per cent of the proceeds raised will go to the Sitting With Jane charity partner Ark Cancer Centre Charity – leaving a lasting legacy that will help and support cancer patients and their families as Ark is raising £5million towards a unique local NHS cancer treatment centre.

This weekend (Sept 9-10), there will be a special Farewell Event at Milestones Museum when members of the public will be able to see all of the bookbenches ahead of the September 15 auction.

A ‘Wild in Art’ event, being delivered by Destination Basingstoke and in association with Festival Place, thousands of people enjoyed going around the Sitting With Jane bookbench trail between June 17 and August 30, and it is hoped that the popularity of the bookbenches will now be reflected in a successful auction for the charity partner.

Merv Rees, Ark Cancer Centre Charity trustee, said: “Sitting With Jane has attracted a great deal of attention locally, nationally and internationally – and now the charity auction is set to provide a successful and fitting final chapter to this wonderful event.

“Hopefully, each of the bookbenches will raise several thousand pounds, which will make a significant difference to Ark’s campaign to help fund the new cancer treatment centre.

“If a business or individual donor wants to support Ark, leave a lasting legacy, and own a unique piece of Jane Austen 200 history, then buying a bookbench is a great way to achieve all of these goals.”

The auction will take place at The Ark Conference Centre, in Basingstoke. It is being organised by well-known fine art auctioneers and valuers Andrew Smith & Son, from Itchen Stoke, near Winchester.

Tickets to the auction – which must be purchased by midday on Thursday, September 14 and will not be on sale on the night – cost £10, and include a welcome drink and auction catalogue. The September 15 auction will start at 7.30pm and the registration desk will be open from 6.30pm-7pm.

Bidders will also be able to post bids online or by telephone on the night, but in order to bid for one of the bookbenches, potential bidders must register before the event by going to where there are also details on other aspects of the auction.

While ticket holders will be able to register to bid on the night in person, they need to do so before the auction gets underway. All other registration or commission bids must be with the auctioneers by noon on Friday, September 15.

The online auction is being run by and there is some useful Q & A information at

Picture caption: Sian Storey's bookbench will be the first of the 22 Sitting With Jabne bookbench lots up for auction on September 15.