MEMBERS of the Hampshire Writers' Society were left dazed and confused when they witnessed a “chilling” incident after leaving a special book launch at Chawton House.

They gathered at the landmark near Alton, most noted for its association with Jane Austen, to enjoy a presentation by Lady Fiona Carnarvon on Highclere Castle.

But several people were left dumbstruck as they saw numerous police cars and ambulances at a row of nearby cottages as they left the site.

One member, who asked not to be named, said: “It was pretty chilling. It must have been something really serious. They set up a cordoned-off area with tape and there were more ambulances arriving as we left. There were black plain police cars as well as the normal ones. It was really unusual.”

A police spokesperson said: “Officers attended an address on Gosport Road, Chawton just before 9pm last night (June 10), where they found the body of a 50-year-old man.

“The next of kin are aware. There are no suspicious circumstances surrounding his death. A file is being prepared for the coroner.”

Lady Carnarvon’s latest work is entitled Lady Almina and the Real Downtown Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere which she has been showcasing at a range of events across Hampshire.

Earlier this month she and other members of Hampshire Women's Institute gathered at Hedge End’s Botleigh Grange Hotel for an afternoon tea inspired by the popular television series Downtown Abbey.