Your one and only chance to buy a Sitting With Jane bookbench

They may be gone but they have certainly not been forgotten – and a fortnight today is the one and only chance that people and businesses will have to buy and own a Sitting With Jane bookbench.

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.

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 cost £10, and include a welcome drink and auction catalogue. They must be purchased by midday on Thursday, September 14 and will not be on sale on the night. 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.

In order to bid for one of the bookbenches online or by telephone, potential bidders must complete the online registration form before the event. The website,, will live stream the event on September 15 and an online catalogue featuring the 22 lots can already be viewed on the website if you cannot make it. All 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

On September 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. More details can be seen at


Picture caption: One of the 22 bookbench lots that will be auctioned on Friday, September 15. Seventy-five per cent of the proceeds will go to Ark Cancer Centre Charity.