The novelist Jane Austen was born in 1775 at Steventon where she lived until she was 25. She drew her inspiration for Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Mansfield Park and Sense and Sensibility from her life in Hampshire.
Steventon Church, where Austen worshipped, is also the grave-site of her brother and his wives. The Jane Austen Society of North America paid for the refurbishment of the church bells in January 1995 and a plaque recognises their support.
Jane attended regular balls at Basingstoke's Assembly Rooms, above the old Town Hall in the Market Place. Demolished in 1832, this stood on what is now open ground next to Lloyd's Bank.