Top tips to spend your stay in Bath following Jane’s footsteps
If you are reading this article it means you are probably as fan as me of Jane’s Austen witty writing style and her novels.
Since time machine have not yet been invented, the best thing to do is to book a week-end in Bath, even better if during the Jane Austen’s Festival in September and immerse yourself in the Regency lifestyle and locations tracing Jane’s years in Bath and her favourite places.
Here are your must do activities:
1. Visit the Jane Austen Centre
The starting point of our journey should be this museum giving you a presentation, biography and description of Jane’s life and the opportunity to try on lovely Regency style clothes after the exhibition and writing letters using the quill. I loved this museum as it gives you the possibility to step back in time and feel your inner Jane rising for only 11 Pounds per person. Finish your tour taking a cup of tea and maybe an afternoon tea at the Regency Tea Room at the top floor while planning you next activity.
2. Visit the Bath Assembly Rooms
Designed by the Architect John Wood the Elder in 1769, these marvellous elegant rooms were conceived to be new venue for balls, concert, and gambling in order to entertain the wealthy people coming to Bath on holiday and looking for entertainment in the upper part of the city. The visit to the Assembly room is free if no event or wedding is taking place. They are mentioned several times in Jane’s novels during the balls scenes and they were frequented by herself being the most fashionable place of Bath at that time.
3. The Fashion Museum
In the basement level of the Assembly rooms, you will find an interesting museum of the women fashion from the origins starting from Shakespeare’s times to the present day. The dresses are perfectly preserved and kept in a dark light to avoid damaging them. This museum is very interesting and showcases multiple exhibitions on the dresses of the Queen on particular occasions, but the best part is that you can try on dresses of 17th or 18th century feeling like a character of Jane’s novels, take pictures and kids can also draw and colour their ideal clothes and be creative. The ticket costs around 10€ Euros but there are combo tickets with other Bath’s attractions to save money.
4. Take on a Jane Austen Walking tour
The best way to know the city is to follow the footsteps and locations of our writer to know interesting anecdotes and details of her daily life, facts and curiosity of the Regency period. There are many different companies operating these tours organising photo tours, talk, visit to the key films and novels locations and much more. Here are those that I recommend with the links to book them:
- Jane Austen’s centre Tours
- ECT Travel Jane Tours and Hen Parties
- A self-guided audio tour of the city
- Jane Austen Photo Shooting or film location tour
5. Take the thermal waters as Regency nobilty
A visit to the Thermae Bath Spa is very much needed after all those hours spent walking and visiting. Jane Austen’s brother Edward and people of that time used to come here to bathe and drink the thermal waters containing 43 minerals drinking 4 to 5 glasses a day believed to be able to heal different illnesses. Today you can still sample it at the Pump Room and maybe stop for an elegant traditional afternoon tea.
The structure features sauna and steam rooms, a large lazy river indoor pool with hydro massage and a panoramic rooftop pool offering on of the best views over the city. Why not indulge in one of the Thermae Bath Spa packages combining 2 hours of Spa with a regenerating treatment or a healthy lunch or dinner at the restaurant?
6. Visit N°1 Royal Crescent
This finely preserved example of Georgian House is situated in the famous Royal Crescent at number one. The museum has been furnished and decorated as it was supposed to be during 18 century and it is truly like travelling through time thanks to the volunteering guides wearing Regency clothes and willing to answer all your questions or share with you their knowledge. During Christmas time this house become truly magical with festive decorations, activities and candle-lights setting. Jane Austen loved walking and used to stroll around the Royal Crescent area, the Gravel walk and park after mass on Sunday and it is a location frequently mentioned in her letters.
7. Indulge in Afternoon Tea
One of the favourite activities at the time was to drink tea and listen to piano music at the Assembly Rooms chatting about the latest gossips. Today nothing changed, except for the location which is now a museum, but you are spoilt with choice in Bath for British typical tea rooms preparing the original Bath Buns and serving a variety of fine teas. Here are my favourite places for a Regency afternoon tea experience:
- The Pump Room is the most elegant and traditional place with live piano music and the only one where you can taste the thermal waters. Another alternative is the traditional Afternoon Tea offered at the 5* Royal Crescent Hotel, a perfect birthday treat or gift. The budget per person is around 30-40 Pounds in both cases.
- Sally Lunn’s Eating House is the most touristic one in the city centre offering lovely atmospheric tea rooms, the original Bath Bun recipe and recorded period music. Be prepared to queue during the weekend or better book in advance. They offer economic set menu for lunch and dinner and a vast variety of teas.
- The Bath Bun Tea Shoppe: this historic British tea shop is one of my favourite as it is family ran since centuries and quintessentially English. It is known to be frequented by Lord Nelson and it features lovely afternoon teas menus and Bath Buns.
- Georgian Tea rooms: another traditional family ran tea shop featuring an elegant decor, pleasant piano music, waiters wearing authentic Regency uniforms and a variety of home-made food!
8. Walk on Jane’s panoramic trail
Like Jane I love walking and put aside my thoughts enjoying the silence and beauty of nature. One of her favourite walks (and mine as a consequence) is the one taking you to Bathwick hill a gorgeous green panoramic hill offering you the best view in town and over the valley. This easy walk is around 4km or less if you start from Sidney Gardens directly and includes a lovely part on the Kenneth and Avon canal and a short climb to the hill.
It is no rare to meet sheep and cows during spring, and it one of the favourite local place to walk the dog, do a picnic or start the longer hike called “Bath Skyline Walk” sponsored taken care of by National Trust. You can collect the leaflet at the tourist office or see the link below for the detailed itinerary.
9. The Jane Austen’s Festival
If you loved your Bath weekend but you want to truly feel and live like Jane then come during the Jane Austen Festival in September, a ten days festival celebrating our favourite writer’s life and career. It is famous for Regency costumed balls, promenades in the city, talks, events, open-air Regency breakfasts, dancing classes and much more.
Be sure of booking at least six months in advance as accommodations and tickets are limited and sell out very quickly! Here is the website to book your ticket and check the next festival program!
The Perfect Gift for Jane Austen’s lovers
This book is a collection of our favourite writer’s masterpieces. A must have for all Jane’s addicts like myself! This is the most economic version:The Complete Novels of Jane Austen (Chartwell Classics)
There is also a collection version with nice relief decorations:Jane Austen: Seven Novels (Barnes & Noble Leatherbound Classic Collection)