Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Jane Austen museum given £100k to match Kelly Clarkson's ring bid

Ring owned by Jane Austen
Image caption The £152,450 ring is one of only three items of jewellery known to have belonged to Jane Austen

A ring which once belonged to Jane Austen is likely to stay in the UK after a Hampshire museum received an anonymous donation of £100,000.

US singer Kelly Clarkson bought the turquoise and gold ring for £152,450 at auction last year, outbidding the Jane Austen's House Museum.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey put an export bar on it until 30 September.

The museum has now raised enough to "show a serious expression of interest to buy the ring".

It has until December to raise a further £49,000. The museum, in Chawton, Hampshire, is Jane Austen's former home.

Fundraiser Louise West was involved in the initial attempt to buy the ring.

She said: "We could see the writing on the wall.

"We knew it was going to go for much more than we could raise in that short space of time."

After the export bar was put on the ring, she said there had been a "grass roots" campaign from the supporters of the museum to help them raise the funds to match Clarkson's bid.

Staff at the museum have invited Clarkson, 2002 winner of the American Idol TV, to visit the house where Austen wrote and revised all of her six completed novels.

The museum already displays two other pieces of jewellery owned by the writer; a turquoise bracelet and a topaz cross.

The ring is said to be in excellent condition.

It is accompanied by papers documenting the history of the ring within the author's family.

The ring passed first to her sister Cassandra, who then gave it to her sister-in-law Eleanor Austen on her engagement to Jane and Cassandra's brother, the Reverend Henry Thomas Austen.

It remained in the family until Clarkson, who grew up in Texas, bought it at auction.

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Media captionKelly Clarkson has been seen wearing what is believed to be a replica of the ring in the US, including at President Obama's inauguration.

Austen, who lived most of her life in Hampshire, is one of English literature's most celebrated authors.

Fans are celebrating the 200th anniversary of her novel Pride and Prejudice this year.

Although out of copyright and available for free on e-readers, it is estimated that Pride and Prejudice sells up to 50,000 copies each year in the UK.

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