As a long-standing hotel in Hampshire, the Apollo is always delighted to support arts, culture and business in the local community. And what better example of homegrown talent than Jane Austen; one of the area’s most famous former residents! That’s why we’ve sponsored the Sitting with Jane bookbench trail; a local tour of Jane Austen landmarks to commemorate her 200-year anniversary.
The unique bookbench trail features 24 individually designed reading benches, beautifully painted by professional artists in ways that celebrate Jane’s life and work. Apollo Hotel proudly sponsors the Beyond the Birdcage bench in Festival Square’s summer garden (in front of Festival Street Kitchen) – the most popular bench on this free public art trail so far, with 269 votes from visitors to date.
Beyond the Birdcage represents the restrictions felt by women of Jane Austen’s time; showing birds flying to symbolise the beginning of a new emotional and financial freedom for women inspired by Austen. Apollo Hotel is also very happy to support the artist who was commissioned to paint this reading bench, Katy Stevens of arts and crafts store Doodles, just down the A340 from us in Tadley. If you get a chance to visit Beyond the Birdcage, remember to look carefully beyond the well-crafted words and vivid colours to spot the hedgehog and squirrel quietly nestling in a corner…
You can take part in the Sitting with Jane bookbench trail, which takes you around Basingstoke, Alton, Winchester and the surrounding areas, until 31st August 2017. In September, all the benches will be auctioned off to raise funds for Ark Cancer Charity – another local organisation close to our hearts that’s doing valuable work to support Hampshire residents.
Ready to explore Jane Austen country? With plenty more special exhibitions, talks, walks and performances also happening around the local area this summer, now is the time to visit us at Apollo Hotel in Hampshire and immerse yourself in Jane Austen’s world.
Paul Fearon, General Manager, Apollo Hotel.