Steventon is a small village, seven miles south west of Basingstoke, close to junction 7 of the M3 motorway. Jane Austen, the novelist, was born in the rectory in Steventon in 1775, where her father was the rector. She lived in the village for twenty five years, until her father retired to Bath in 1801 and took the family with him. He was succeeded by Jane’s eldest brother, James Austen and later Jane’s younger brother, Henry Austen. Jane’s nephew, William Knight, became rector in 1822 and a new rectory was built for him by his father, Edward Austen. In 1823, the old rectory, where Jane was born, grew up and wrote, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility, was demolished. The new rectory enjoys a prominent position on the hillside opposite the site of the old rectory and is known as Steventon House. The site of the original rectory is marked by an old lime tree, believed to have been planted by her eldest brother, James Austen. The iron railings surrounding the well, which was in the backyard of the original rectory, can still be seen in the field.
St. Nicholas Church, where the Austens were rectors and Jane Austen worshipped, dates from the 12th century. It is a small and simple building, which has had few alterations to its structure since Jane worshipped there. The most significant change is the addition of a steeple in Victorian times. In the churchyard, is an ancient yew tree, estimated to be over nine hundred years old, with a trunk more than twenty feet in circumference. The church contains memorial tablets to James Austen, his nephew William Knight and their families and a bronze plaque to Jane Austen, erected in her memory by her great grandniece, Emma Austen Leigh in 1936.
Jane Austen died in Winchester at the age of 41, on 18th July 1817. 2017 will be the two hundredth anniversary of her death, which will be marked by various events at locations associated with her. BBC2 will screen a television documentary about her life.