CONTROVERSIAL plans to erect a statue in Winchester Cathedral’s grounds have been scrapped following a barrage of criticism.

As previously reported, proposals had been put forward to install a tribute to author Jane Austen, who died in Winchester around 200 years ago.

The Chronicle received numerous letters on the subject in which Winchester residents and groups slammed the plans.

One of those to write in was St John’s Street resident Elizabeth Proudman. Ms Proudman said: “The letters which you have published in your pages in the last few weeks show that objections to the proposed Martin Jennings’ statue of Jane Austen are unanimous.

“Canon Roly Riem writes that it can be altered. However, this plan for the statue raises a wider issue. There is a strong body of opinion that rejects the idea of another Jane Austen statue anywhere, or any statue at all in the Cathedral Close. At least Barbara Hepworth’s ‘Crucifixion’ had relevance in the monastic precinct.”

Now a cathedral spokesman has confirmed the plans have been dropped. The spokesman said: “Since the public launch of the plan to commission a sculpture of Jane Austen in The Close, the Chapter of Winchester Cathedral has welcomed feedback to the proposal.

“We have listened carefully and, alongside support and enthusiasm for the project, we have also been fully aware of serious concerns expressed regarding the type of sculpture, the location and the timing of this significant commission.

“As a result of this listening, Chapter has decided, with regret, not to go ahead with this concept. There are other priorities within the cathedral and city that need to be the focus of attention.

“We are honoured that an artist of the stature of Martin Jennings has worked with us on this project thus far and we thank him for his support and understanding in this decision.”

As previously reported, the project had the backing of Winchester City Council (WCC) and Hampshire County Council (HCC), who had both offered to put £25,000 into the project. Since then, HCC has confirmed no money has been given.