JANE Austen, famed author and Hampshire resident who was born nearly 250 years ago in the village of Steventon, is helping to breathe new life into Whitchurch Silk Mill.

A creative collaboration between Whitchurch Silk Mill and Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, Hampshire is now underway, with work continuing through until September 2024.

Whitchurch Silk Mill has designed and will produce silk ribbons, inspired by Jane Austen’s home and objects from the museum collection.

Andover Advertiser: A photo of Whitchurch Silk Mill

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Whitchurch Silk Mill operations manager Jessica Bone said: “This project presents an exciting opportunity for both sites to showcase their heritage. We will be taking parts of the project online too, making it accessible to a wider audience.

"We know the importance of passing on skills to future generations, this project has the potential to ignite a new passion and interest in our audiences; whether that be in history, heritage crafts or literature."

Jane Austen’s House in the picturesque Hampshire village of Chawton is one of the most important literary sites in the world. 

Today, Jane Austen’s House is a cherished museum with an unparalleled collection of Austen treasures, including Jane’s personal letters and first editions of her novels, items of jewellery, portraits of her friends and family, and the tiny writing table at which she wrote her much loved novels.

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Earlier this year, silk ribbon weaving was listed as a critically endangered craft and added to the Red List by the Heritage Craft Association. There are only four silk ribbon weavers left in the UK, with Whitchurch Silk Mill employing one of them.

During 2024, visitors will be have the chance to see the silk ribbons in production at the Mill during the winding, warping and weaving phases.

Digital technology will make it possible for visitors to see intricate parts of the production process in more detail. Parts of the project will be online via Jane Austen’s House and Whitchurch Silk Mill’s social media platforms and the Mill’s website.