"A Visit to Jane Austen's Town" Top 5 Page for this destination Bath by pedersdottir

Bath Travel Guide: 916 reviews and 2,018 photos

Georgian Gold in Bath

She preferred the quiet of country life. But circumstance and family connections brought Jane Austen to live in Bath between the years 1801-1806. Several incidents of her life here became part of the fabric of her novels. I had to investigate.

The site of the only hot springs in Britain, Bath was developed by the Romans into the town of Aquae Sulis Minerva, named in honor of the local goddess Sul and her Roman successor. Left to fade in the Middle Ages, the city blossomed again with the wool trade in the 1500's. By the 1700's renewed interest in the curative effects of the springs prompted Queen Ann to visit. Twice. That was the catalyst for fashionable society to renew interest. By the time of Jane Austen's first visit to Bath in 1797 the building boom was complete. John Wood the Elder had created Queen Square, North and South Parade Streets and the glorious crescent of elevated townhomes comprising the Circus. His son, John Wood the Younger, built the Royal Crescent in the year of Jane Austen's birth.

Jane described the appearance of the newly-expanded town as 'the white glare of Bath'. In reality, Bath stone displays an ivory-buff tone when fresh (as can be seen in several new homes today). It mellows to a golden hue with age. Because of the town's protected status as a UNESCO World Heritage site all new construction must harmonize with the classical architecture created by the Woods, extending even to the 50's era gas storage tanks on the outskirts of town, painted in Bath stone buff.

"Oh who can ever be tired of Bath?' asks Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey. The town in Jane's day resembled Monaco : it was THE Casino of its time, drawing wealthy visitors for high stakes card games. These were held in the Assembly Rooms. First came the Lower Rooms which once stood near the Abbey, where the Terrace Walk fountain is today. Destroyed by fire in the early 1800's, they were never rebuilt. Then the Upper Rooms were built by private subscription adjacent to the elegant Circus. Standing literally higher than the old town, the Upper Rooms drew clientele from the upper echelons of society. Even today the Upper Rooms convey the beauty of the chandeliered ballroom, elegant banquet hall and sophisticated gaming parlour so beloved by the fashionable noblesse of Jane's day.

Bath was once a 3-day journey from London. Today the trip takes 3 hours by bus, or a little over an hour via the Great Western Railroad out of Paddington Station. It is a glorious destination for a day trip. Interested in museums beyond the Roman Baths? The city has a nice selection, scattered throughout town. I've grouped them in the General Tips category.

  • Last visit to Bath: Sep 2004
  • Intro Updated Jan 26, 2005
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Reviews (36)

Comments (38)

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Feb 4, 2013 at 6:09 PM

    Great tips!

  • jusdenise93's Profile Photo
    May 26, 2009 at 12:32 AM

    the picture brings back memories of my visit in bath. Nicely done pages..

  • Ben-UK's Profile Photo
    Feb 4, 2008 at 1:13 PM

    Excellent page with lots of information and really good photos

  • Sininen's Profile Photo
    Mar 9, 2007 at 8:58 PM

    Hello Katja! What a lovely page on Bath! I definitely have to go there one day. Happy birthday from Finland!

  • lou31's Profile Photo
    Jun 20, 2006 at 8:23 PM

    Lovely page. You've done well with your tips and pics. Bath is a beautiful page... thanks for sharing...

  • Jun 17, 2006 at 12:54 PM

    Great page, great tips, everything is going straight to my save folder even if we don't have any plan to see Bath in the near future. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

  • Jun 8, 2006 at 2:50 PM

    Sadly closed early this year and re-opened as part of a pizza-chain.

  • kat2000's Profile Photo
    Oct 29, 2005 at 3:50 PM

    You can visit prior park for free by entering in the back way, through baths skyline footpath. not sure if this is legal.

  • Aug 22, 2005 at 5:15 AM

    Great page! But we pedantic Bath residents prefer to talk about our CITY! Even if it is tiny compared to US standards...

  • Jefie's Profile Photo
    Apr 14, 2005 at 12:43 PM

    What a great page! I'm going to England (for the very first time) next month to do exactly what you did - track down anything and everything about Jane Austen. I've printed all your tips and I'm taking them with me on my trip!

pedersdottir

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