Since Bath is currently right in the thick of its hugely popular Jane Austen Festival – and this year marks the 200th anniversary of the famous author’s death – there seemed no better time to offer our tips on how best to pay homage to the much-loved writer during your visit to our historic city.
Writing during the Georgian era when Bath rose to the height of fashion with dandy Beau Nash presiding over a string of balls at the Assembly Rooms, Jane Austen set two of her six published novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, in Bath and made the city her home from 1801 to 1806.
In Northanger Abbey, she writes: “They arrived in Bath. Catherine was all eager delight; – her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already.“
For a Jane Austen fan, Bath is a dream come true with many streets making you feel as though you’ve been transported back to the Georgian era. Panda Sanctuaries’ stunning self-catered rental properties, all located near the city centre, are a perfect base from which to indulge your love of all things Jane Austen:
The Jane Austen Centre
A must visit for any Jane Austen fan, the Jane Austen Centre‘s expertly curated exhibition explores the author’s time in Bath and the influence it had upon her writing. Housed in an original period property, visitors are welcomed by knowledgeable guides in Regency dress. The centre hosts talks, activities and contemporary exhibit s, including the opportunity to dress up in Regency costume. Guests can also enjoy a spot of afternoon tea in the Regency Tea Rooms.
Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House
Housed in one of the oldest buildings in Bath dating from the 15th century, Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House offers a winning combination of delicious food in a truly authentic historic setting. The kitchen museum shows the original kitchen used by the young Huguenot baker Sally Lunn, who according to legend arrived in Bath in 1680 after fleeing France, and set up her bakery. Sally Lunn’s menus offer historic English fare based on the original Sally Lunn bun, the recipe for which remains a closely guarded secret.
Holburne Museum and Sydney Gardens
One of Jane Austen’s past–times was to ‘take the air’ in Sydney Gardens after breakfast at the beautiful Sydney Hotel, which is now the Holburne Museum. The garden remains a stunning spot to take a stroll or simply sit and enjoy a quiet moment away from the bustle of the city centre. While the museum, which is free to enter, houses an amazing varied collection compiled by Sir Thomas William Holburne (1793-1874) including works by Gainsborough, Zoffany, and Stubbs.
The Jane Austen Photo Tour
The photo tour takes visitors on a walk around Bath to view all the key locations associated with Jane Austen. This includes 25 Gay Street, where she lived for several months in 1805, Trim Street which was her home in 1806 and 13 Queen Street where she lodged during a shorter visit in 1799. The tour also takes in famous Regency buildings such as the Assembly Rooms and the Holburne Musem, which were both used as filming locations in The Duchess, alongside a raft of other iconic properties and streets in the city. The tour takes between 2.5 and 3.5 hours to complete.
The Assembly Rooms
Once the setting for Bath’s many society balls, The Assembly Rooms is one of the finest Georgian buildings in the city. It now houses the famous Fashion Museum Bath. Designed by the architect John Wood the Younger, the Assembly Rooms was purpose built in 1771 to host the fashionable entertainment of the period ‘the assembly’. Guests would gather there to dance, talk over cups of tea, listen to music, play cards and generally promenade. The building comprises four rooms: the Ball Room, the Tea Room, the Octagon Room and a Card Room. The Assembly Rooms is mentioned in both Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.