Good morning! I hope you’re having a lovely weekend. Today I am back to share a new post from my recent trip to England and I must thank my readers for your overwhelmingly kind responses to my last post. It has made me so happy to read your comments and thank you for all of the feedback on our trip. Please keep the comments coming as we haed to Bath today…
The minute we stepped off of the train in Bath, we were mesmerized by this beautiful historic City where one can easily still imagine how this city looked during the time when Jane herself visited and lived in this spa-town city.
As a city that rose to prominence in the 18th century as the center of fashionable English society second only to London for the sophisticated pleasures it offered Bath became a magnet for royalty, the nobility, gentry, and the newly affluent industrial class, who in turn attracted writers, musicians, and artists seeking patrons and a market for their work. The city’s dramatic architecture, high fashion, and social extravagance attracted visitors from all over Europe including the novelist, Charles Dickens, the portrait and landscape painters, Thomas Gainsborough, and Joseph Turner, Frances Burney, who was one of Jane’s favorite writers, and Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson.
Jane Austen made her first two visits to Bath in November 1797 and then again in May of 1979. Her family had strong ties to Bath, which included her mother’s relatives who remained living there. It was also the place where her parents had met and where the Reverend George Austen would also be buried. For families like the Austen’s, Bath was a more affordable and socially acceptable alternative to living in London. (Jane Austen in Bath)
Interestingly, Bath is one of the settings that Jane includes quite detailed descriptions of when compared with her other story settings. It’s a city that she came to know well throughout her life. She also wrote two very different stories in Bath; one of an innocent young Catherine Morland, who is enjoying a holiday in Bath in the late 1790s and the story of Anne Elliot, a woman in her late twenties, who is resigned to spinsterhood until she reconnects with her long-lost love and receives her own proposal of marriage in the city of Bath. It’s easy to understand why, through Jane’s stories and the city’s architecture, Janeites feel a strong connection to Jane still today, 200 years later, in Bath. (Jane Austen in Bath)
Our one-day visit to Bath was a whirlwind of walking, eating, and picture taking, as we tried to take in as much we could from this breathtaking location. The town was bustling with plenty of visitors and locals, as we entered the heart of the city, where the Pump Room and The Roman Baths sit prominently in their locations, attracting visitors from all over the world. Due to time constraints, we opted to explore the rest of the city instead of going inside of these buildings, but they are sure to be the first places we visit during future visits.
Since we visited Bath on the same day that we flew into England, we were hungry! Just like Jane, we went to explore the delights at Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House, which is one of the oldest houses in the Bath. As stated on their website, “The connection between Jane Austen and Sally Lunn’s is an interesting one.”
A young Jane Austen writes a typically mischievous letter about “disordering my stomach with Bath bunns.” The extra letter ‘n’ may not be an accidental slip.
She could be referring to Sally Lunns. Nor is she criticising their indigestibility, simply implying that she liked pigging out on them as a form of comfort eating.
Bath Bunns / Sally Lunn’s were eaten at the endless round of breakfast parties. Like brioches, they were eaten hot if possible, split open and liberally doused with melted butter. Bakers made them in different sizes that could either be cut up or eaten as individual portions.
Today you can enjoy a bun in The Jane Austen Room at Sally Lunn’s – you can also enjoy bespoke dishes, and blends of tea and coffee. We also sell Jane Austen blends of tea and coffee to take home to enjoy or give as gifts.
Dung and I were only too glad to indulge our own dining pleasure by indulging in some yummy sandwiches made with the buns and some Austen-inspired beverages. Dung enjoyed a delicious blend of tea and I treated myself to two servings of Jane Austen Coffee, which I must say was a very smooth and lovely blend of coffee. We also visited their gift shop where we purchased quite a few treats and we were able to see a display of how the buns are created. I highly recommend enjoying a visit here for not only Janeites but for anyone looking to enjoy some wonderful food in Bath!
We were anxious to visit The Jane Austen Centre, which is located up the hill from the Pump Room and The Roman baths. After approximately a 10-minute walk up to 40 Gay Street, where you can visit the Jane Austen Center and meet the most photographed man in the city, our own dear Mr. Bennett.
This is a permanent exhibition in an original Georgian townhouse, where visitors can learn more about the story of Jane’s time in Bath, including the effect that living here had on her and her writing. (https://www.janeausten.co.uk/)
At the Jane Austen Centre, visitors can take a guided tour, spend time in a room filled with mementos from the filming of the 1995 film of Persuasion and peruse their lovely gift shop, which is filled with plenty of treasures for Jane Austen lovers. There is also their Regency Tearoom, where visitors can step back in time to enjoy a meal. I found lots of great things to purchase here and some of them are part of today’s giveaway.
After we left here, we had to walk to one of the actual places where Jane lived while she lived in Bath. Here at 25 Gay Street, which is where Jane lived with her mother and sister after Jane’s father passed away. Today, the building does not have any reminders of Jane’s life, but you can see a bit of the front room, where Jane would have received visitors and the stairwell to the servants’ quarters. It’s easy to imagine Jane here in Bath, where she could walk through the city and take in the sights, all within a day or two and before closely acquainted with the charms and the not-so-charming sides of Bath. We also found Mr. Darcy right on Gay Street, in the form of this magazine cover… Oh, the thought of Jane knowing how her Mr. Darcy would remain such a beloved treasure for thousands of women! Thank you. Jane!
This blog post describes in more detail the places that Jane lived in while she was in Bath.
We also spent time exploring the city and looking for some of the places that Jane may have admired while she was in Bath. It’s a beautiful city and with its architecture so rooted in prior centuries, one feels as though they have been transported back in time. We didn’t see everything we wanted to see in Bath, but we certainly are excited to return to spend more time in Bath in the near future.
Today I am sharing a special Bath-inspired giveaway for my Just Jane 1813 readers. The giveaway for this week includes various items from the Jane Austen Centre and an autographed copy of “Ardently,” by Caitlin Williams, who has a new JAFF book being released this month. “Ardently” is still one of my favorite JAFF reads and it happens to take place in the city of Bath. I am thrilled to offer this autographed copy to my readers!
The winner will receive all of the items pictured below. To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment on this post no later than midnight, ET, on July 9, 2017, and the winner will be announced on this blog on July 10, 2017.
Thank you for following along with our journey through Jane Austen’s England. It has been a pleasure reliving these memories with every one of my readers!