Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Clarkson happy ring staying in UK

Kelly Clarkson bought the ring at auction last year

A ring once owned by Jane Austen which was sold to Kelly Clarkson will stay in the UK after a museum where the author lived raised more than £150,000 to buy it.

The gold and turquoise ring remained in the Austen family for around 200 years before it was sold at auction last year.

But US singer Kelly, 31, was prevented from taking the item of jewellery out of the UK when it became subject to a temporary export ban.

Jane Austen's House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, where the writer spent the last eight years of her life and where she penned all of her six completed novels, launched its fundraising campaign in August. The museum, which had been unable to meet the hammer price at the Sotheby's auction, has now raised £157,740 to secure the ring which is expected to go on display in the New Year.

Donations included a single pledge of £100,000 from an anonymous donor while donors included TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh and Austen fans from around the world.

Kelly, a former American Idol winner, said that she was glad that the museum had acquired the item.

"The ring is a beautiful national treasure and I am happy to know that so many Jane Austen fans will get to see it at Jane Austen's House Museum," she said.

It is not known whether Austen bought or was given the ring - which contains the December turquoise birthstone (Austen's birth month) - and symbolises wisdom and spiritual journeys.

After the world-famous author's death in 1817 from an unknown illness, the ring was passed to her sister Cassandra who then gave it to her sister-in-law Eleanor Austen on her engagement to the Reverend Henry Thomas Austen.

Mary Guyatt, curator of the museum, which celebrates the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride And Prejudice this year, said: "The Museum has been stunned by the generosity and light-footedness of all those who have supported our campaign to meet the costs of acquiring Jane Austen's ring for our permanent collection. "

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