Jane Austen Centre in Bath under threat due to Covid-19

Jane Austen waxwork wearing a face mask
The Jane Austen Centre is closed at the moment due to the coronavirus restrictions but the author's waxwork is wearing a face mask, just in case. Credit: Jane Austen Centre

One of Bath's most well-known tourist attractions has started a crowd-funding appeal to help it survive the financial impact of the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Jane Austen Centre, in Gay Street, is at risk of closure and is appealing for money to help it keep on staff, pay essential bills and introduce social distancing measures ready for it to re-open when it is safe to do so.

One of those set to benefit will be Martin Salter, who meets and greets visitors in the guise of Mr Bennet, one of the author's most famous characters. He is known as the most photographed man in England.

Martin Salter welcomes visitors to the Jane Austen Centre and is one of the most photographed people in England. Credit: ITV West Country

Paul Crossey, Jane Austen Centre Director, said: "We are a small, independent business that relies solely on the 150,000 or so visitors that come through our doors each year. Obviously, since lockdown, that number has dropped to nil.

"Even when we do open again, possible travel bans and enhanced restrictions within the tourist industry in general, will make the period following re-opening tough."

The Jane Austen Festival sees hundreds of people descend on the city of Bath dressed in regency costume. Credit: Jane Austen Centre

It is not just the Centre that is at risk, but also the annual Jane Austen Festival associated with it, which is held in Bath every September. The ten-day-event was due to have celebrated its 20th Anniversary this year, but has been forced to cancel and will need support to survive.

Jane Austen lived in Bath between 1801 and 1806 and set her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion in the city. 

  • Watch Bath getting in the regency mood for the Jane Austen Festival in 2018