The grand English city of Bath – with its beautiful Georgian buildings and sweeping thoroughfares – seems the perfect setting to remember one of the great romantic novelists.
Jane Austen Centre is dedicated to celebrating Bath’s most famous resident – staging ongoing exhibitions and playing centre stage at the Jane Austen Festival, held over two weeks each September since 2000.
While millions of travellers flock to the springs from which the Somerset city takes its name, it’s certainly worth finding your way to the Gay Street townhouse that offers a step back in time to the days of Pride and Prejudice and Emma.
Jane Austen paid two long visits to Bath towards the end of the 18th century, and from 1801 to 1806, the city was her home. For a time, she lived in Gay Street.
Enjoying the period atmosphere
On arriving at the centre, we were greeted by Martin, the costumed ‘man-on-the-door’ and were taken on a fascinating journey through the author’s links with Bath and the impact that the city had on her writing of books such as Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.
We were given a snapshot of life in the Regency times – the fashion, food, society – everything that would have inspired Austen’s novels.
And to create a more genuine period atmosphere, were invited to don coats, hats and bonnets – while Sue and our delightful English cousin, Jan, posed coyly behind typically 18th Century fans. Our Australian Socceroos scarf added a more modern touch.
Before departing, we signed the visitor’s book with a flourish, using a feather pen and nib dipped in ink.
A majestic location
Jane Austen Centre can be found at Bath, in Somerset, UK. The centre is broadly located between two of Bath’s architectural masterpieces, Queen Square and the Circus.
Bath is located about one-and-a-half hours from London by train.
Road travel between the two cities usually takes just over two hours.