Exploring the rain Jane trail
Writer, Harriet Bradley, reviews the Rain Jane Trail and tells us more about the thirty-six Austen trails in and around Winchester.
With the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death on the horizon, Winchester City Council has commissioned an innovative new trail called ‘Rain Jane’. Sponsored by Winchester College and the Jane Austen Society of North America, this piece was created by the AR Design Studio in Little Minster Street. The trail has been named due the unique nature of the materials it’s been installed with – a special paint that only appears when it rains, meaning that there might finally be a plus side to our soggy English weather!
The trail consists of twelve Austen quotes in thirty-six locations around Winchester, with an additional quote being presented in a ‘living wall’ of ivy in the garden opposite the College Street house that Jane died in. There is also a new handcrafted bench by local sculptor Nicola Henshaw in the garden, placed with a good view of the installation. Andy Ramus of AR Design Studio said that ‘the quote in the garden and the bench to view it from are intended to offer a quiet and unobtrusive place of reflection,’ perhaps similar to the way Jane enjoyed her final home.
As well as being part of the Feet First campaign to encourage people to walk around the city, the council is hoping that these new installations will help encourage the Austen tourism that already exists in and around Winchester. Cllr Steve Miller, Winchester City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Economy and Estates, says, ‘Jane Austen attracts considerable media interest for Winchester and we know many of the increasing number of inbound tourists come with an Austen based itinerary in mind. Each year thousands come to Winchester to view her ledger stone in the cathedral and the house where she died in College Street … We are very appreciative of the sponsorship for the Rain Jane trail by Winchester College. My officers have enjoyed working with a network of local businesses with a range of specialisms on this very innovative tourism project.’
However, Andy is keen to point out that it’s not just for Janeites, but for everyone: ‘Hopefully local people will experience a sense of delight and surprise as they unexpectedly come across her words and her wit. The quotations have been carefully placed in strategic locations chosen by Visit Winchester and the team here – many that have an ironic link to the words so there is an ‘in joke’ about society in general that shows how relevant her work still is.’
So next time there’s a rainy day, don’t sit inside – get yourself to Winchester to explore Jane in a new way.
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