Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Jane Austen's Bath

One of the things I was most looking forward to doing while in London was taking the train to Bath to visit this town where Jane Austen spent a few years, to walk the streets she walked, trying to imagine what life in Bath was like around 1800. The day of our scheduled excursion, we bought a round-trip ticket from Paddington Station to Bath, but needed the help of two train system employees to un-confuse us and make sure we made it to the right platform and on the right train. Not an easy task in this busy, busy place. Once we comfortably on board, however, the scenery once we got out of London was just beautiful, and it was so nice to see a few towns besides on the way, and some rolling country hills.

Even after all I had built Bath up to be, I wasn't disappointed. It is a lovely place, very walkable with beautiful homes and gardens, and folks a bit friendlier than those in London. We walked from the train station to the Jane Austen Centre right off, and toured this museum a few doors down from the home Austen and her family inhabited for some of the five years they spent in Bath. The museum gave lots of helpful and interesting biographical information on the author and her family, and Jane's feelings on living in Bath (she didn't much care for it, and didn't do much writing there). The Centre did a great job helping visitors know what it would have been like to live in Bath around 1800. 

For lunch that day we ate at The Pump Room, a restaurant that appears in Northanger Abbey, and the food was very good. While we ate, tourists kept coming in to take a taste of "Bath water," which is from the town's natural waters and the reason Bath had so many tourists in centuries past (the water has healing properties). We didn't see one person who appeared to enjoy the taste of this water, and overheard several say it tasted like sulphur. So, instead, we opted for soups and sandwiches with Cokes to drink.

Following our lunch we took a walking tour with a jolly fellow, volunteer and resident of Bath. We walked all over town and he must have told us practically everything he knew about the place, as he barely took a breath during the whole two hours and kept us very entertained. We learned about the old town of Bath, the spas, royal visitors, architectural details and many other interesting tidbits.

Later, after visiting The Georgian House Museum, we walked down the path that appears at the end of Sense and Sensibility, a street over from Gay Street where Austen lived (above), and spotted a Georgian Garden open to visitors (below). I may need one of these in my yard one day.

1 comment:

  1. What an interesting blog, introduced by a thought-provoking photo. The unusual wall painting of the dwellings is also a strangely modern interpretation. Something like this hieroglyphic view of a park by Swiss painter Paul Klee,
    The image can be seen at who can supply you with a canvas print of it.