CLICK HERE to read my newest post on Bath: Bath’s Persuasion
In early December, my travels took me to another World Heritage Site: Bath, England. Jane Austen lived there from 1801 – 1806 after her family moved from her birthplace Steventon when she was 26. The City of Bath at that time was a meeting place of high society, the centre of fashion and the hub of stylish urban development, with elegant and spectacular Georgian buildings and Palladian architecture. What’s interesting is, today’s Bath remains more or less the same as it was in Jane’s time. The buildings have been maintained in such immaculate condition that a visitor to Bath today can actually walk the paths of Jane’s and behold the city and landscape she had seen, and eat at a place that she could have frequented, the Sally Lunn’s. This little bakery and eatery is located in the oldest house in Bath, dating back to the 1400’s, a historical site even for Jane.
Jane Austen chose Bath as the setting for Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, both novels published posthumously. According to sources, in particular Claire Tomalin’s biography Jane Austen: A Life, Jane did not like the City of Bath. The superficiality and frivolity of high society were met with her satirical critiques. Further, her disdain could well be caused by the very purpose she suspected of her parents’ decision to move there: opportunities to meet favourable suitors for their daughters.
Nevertheless, for me as a modern day visitor to Bath, and a Janeite at that, I’m impressed to learn that most of what I see have lasted through hundreds of years. The Roman Baths, the Bath Abbey where the first king of England Edgar was crowned in 973 A.D., the Pump Room, the Gardens, The Royal Crescent, Queen’s Square, The Pulteney Bridge, the same streets and architecture are situated just as they were in Jane’s time.
Here are some of the famous places in Jane Austen’s Bath.
Jane Austen’s first residence in Bath 1801 – 1805, No. 4 Sydney Place:
Jane Austen’s second residence in Bath, No. 25 Gay Street, now a dentist’s office:
Queen’s Square across from Gay Street: Good spot for people-watching for Jane and Cassandra:
The Pump Room: The meeting place of the Who’s Who in Jane Austen’s Bath:
“In the Pump-room, one so newly arrived in Bath must be met with…” –Chapter 9, Northanger Abbey
The Royal Crescent: Georgian buildings spectacularly arranged in a crescent form, where the rich and fashionable took their Sunday afternoon stroll in Jane’s time. Jane’s view is satirically clear:
“…they hastened away to the Crescent, to breathe the fresh air of better company.” –Chapter 5, Northanger Abbey
Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon:
Sally Lunn’s: Famous buns since the 1680’s:
All photos originally taken by Arti of www.rippleeffects.wordpress.com
Text and photos All Rights Reserved, December, 2007.
More interesting posts coming up…and for Janeites, look for Lacock Village in my next post.
Update: Due to the keen interest from readers of “Jane Austen’s Bath”, I’ve published another post, “Bath in December“, with more photos of my recent visit to that beautiful City. After you’ve finished reading this post, you’re welcome to visit “Bath in December” and… enjoy!
24 thoughts on “Jane Austen’s Bath”
Nice pictures! I really enjoyed this post – it made me wish I had more time to spend in Bath. I missed a lot of these places when I was there.
I’m so glad I found your blog – what a great combination of literature, travel, and film. I love it already and will be reading mroe!
JaneFan: Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad we found each other. You’ve a great blog and I’ll be visiting more.
I will definitely re-visit Bath in the future and really soak up the “Jane Austen” atmosphere. Strolling leisurely down the pebble streets, reading her novel, sipping tea, munching on a Sally Lunn’s bun …. Wow!, sounds real cool, eh?!!! Will you join me?! 😛
Nora: The Bath’s annual Jane Austen Festival will be held next year Sept. 19th to 28th…better plan ahead! Check it out at http://www.janeausten.co.uk
This is a great post. Although I’ve never been to these places, I’ve read plenty of Austen and can feel their magnitude. Makes me want to start the new year off with Northanger Abbey in my lap. Thank you for sharing—it’s been a pleasure! Linda
writerlulu: That’s exactly what I’m doing, re-reading Northanger Abbey. Glad you like the pics.
Wonderful! I loved viiting Bath back when I was a student on study abroad in England. Having thoroughly enjoyed Austen’s novels, Bath was a real highlight of the trip for me. So glad you got a chance to go!
Wonderful photos, Arti, and I so appreciate your descriptions. Having never visited Bath, I’m enjoying this first “visit” through your eyes.
Love your pics — makes me want to go back!
Lori, thanks for putting my link in your post. Great JA quote today in your blog!
That’s quite a great journey and very interesting too. Thanks for dropping by my site.
I would love to see this place too. The history is so rich . And its like getting an autograph copy of my book.
A wonderful post and a thrill to read after concluding Northanger Abbey this afternoon.
Lovely photos. I used to live three miles from the centre of Bath and now write crime novels based in Bath. Every so often I need to drive over there and ‘re-feel’ the place. I think glancing at your photos now and again will curb that need somewhat. You’ve captured the atmosphere – without the traffic!
J G Goodhind: If I lived three miles from Bath, I’d go there every week…I’m thinking of re-visiting Bath as often as I can, hopefully later this year. It may take me more planning though, across the Atlantic. Thanks for stopping by and I’d like to know more about your novels…what an interesting setting for crime fiction!
How lovely Arti. Thank you for reviving the post again in time for Go Gothic. I really enjoyed reading it again.
Cheers, Laurel Ann
Wonderful post, Arti. And thanks for linking to mine! Vic
Great pictures, including that of the Crescent. I knew I had to visit Austen-related sites when I went to Bath on a day-trip from London this past summer. I had to rush through them though; I barely had about an hour before my tour bus returned to London.