AN “UNDISCOVERED treasure” linked to novelist Jane Austen has been unearthed in Kintbury St Mary’s Church.
The painting, by an unknown artist, had been unceremoniously stuffed into a bag in the vestry.
But now its restoration is making news after four Friends of St Mary’s paid to have it restored to its former glory.
One of the four, Alison Hartwright, said: “It shows the vicarage from the western elevation and appears to have been painted by the same, unknown artist responsible for a similar work of the north elevation that was mentioned by Nigel Nicolson in his work, The World of Jane Austen.
“It’s a hitherto undiscovered treasure and the Jane Austen Society is very excited about it.
“We were initially told it was not practical to restore but we persevered and got a second opinion.
“The results are astonishing.”
Jane Austen’s sister, Cassandra, was once engaged to Thomas Fowle, son of the vicar of Kintbury, and the novelist stayed at the vicarage several times.
Her last visit was in 1816, the year before she died.
The painting, now professionally restored to its former glory, will be on display during a weekend festival celebrating the famous author’s village links: Jane Austen: The Kintbury Connection.
This takes place on June 27 and 28.
In attendance will be novelist and journalist Gill Hornby, who lives and works in a corner of the village that Jane Austen knew well; highly respected and prolific author on Jane Austen, Maggie Lane; and actress Angela Barlow, who recreates Jane Austen characters in her presentation Jane Austen & Character: An Actor’s View.
All three will be giving talks and holding book signings.
There will also be afternoon tea with a Regency theme, a theatrical dinner with a Pimms reception, a Regency church service, lectures and cream teas served in the Old Vicarage.
Parking is available at the Coronation Hall in Inkpen Road, Kintbury.
For more information visit www.janeaustenatkintbury.co.uk