Sunday, 25 May 2014

Bath: Part 3, Saturday - Royal Crescent and Jane Austen...

If you're finding these posts a bit longer than you like to read, apologies. There is so much that I've not included  in them, and pictures that I haven't used, but I do want any readers who can't get to Bath personally, to be able to glimpse some of the many delights there.

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After I left the Assembly Rooms, it was a brief walk from one side of The Circus to the other and I was at the corner of the Royal Crescent overlooking Victoria Park- full of people enjoying the sunshine and the green space...

No.1 Royal Crescent is in a corner position, so there's some spectacular views from the windows.
(This link contains some interesting information, including about the most recent work to reunite the service wing to the house after many years of separation. It is all owned and managed by the Bath Preservation Trust.)

The Royal Crescent was, and probably still is, a desirable address. No.1's first (known) resident in 1776, was Irish landowner Henry Sandford; and the lengthy restoration has taken it back to its 18th century décor that would have been familiar to Sandford and his guests.

Each room displayed appropriate furnishings and design for the time period, and there was a volunteer guide in each room to explain about it and answer questions. I'm sure horror writers would love the Cabinet of Curiosities, but I found it a bit unsettling...

The stairs were very comfortable to climb, as the depth of the riser was lower than stairs nowadays, and the handrail was a perfect height for me to lightly rest my hand as I sedately ascended to the next floor, so easy to imagine past ladies walking upstairs in their big dresses. :D

It was unfortunate that in the Gentleman's Bedroom, the Dressing Room was not used. Perhaps that will be done in the future...But I loved the wallpaper and carpet with their strong blues, and they wouldn't look out of place today.

I was running out of time so had a quick look at the exhibition gallery that was hosting the 'Portrait of a Lady? Ruin and Reputation in the Georgian Era'. On this link you can see a wall of portraits, they were a mixture of aristocratic and upper class women mixed with high class courtesans and actresses among the prints, with the question, which one is a lady?

Then I was off to my next stop...

Taking the Gravel Walk from the Crescent down toward Gay Street - was a long held wish- ever since it appeared in a scene in my first unfinished novel (due to needing to learn more). It is a lovely walk, away from the noise of the traffic, but there isn't much gravel left! (There is a level tarmac path down the middle.)

 The Jane Austin Centre at No.40 Gay Street is tiny in comparison to the Crescent, and even the hotel I stayed at in Henrietta Street (built in the late 1780's).

The Greeters...
There's a tearoom on the top floor, and the visit starts on the first floor. Each tour is about 20 minutes apart, and I was fortunate to arrive a few minutes before the next one. All the staff are dressed in costume, and the guide doing my tour was 'Georgiana Darcy'.

After an introduction about Jane and her time in Bath with her family, we went back downstairs into the exhibition area (this is where the garden once was, but was extended into during the 20th century).

It was busy on the afternoon I visited, so it was a bit more difficult to go slowly through the first part of the displays, but once you got into the more spacious section there was a lot more- as you'll see from my photos.

The Haberdashers

Taking Tea
You could even try on some costumes and there was a pre-set drawing room scene, and the staff would take your photo with your camera (yes, that woman in blue looking like a dubious chaperone is me)...

Who is that lady?

The final stage is more of a traditional display room, images and memorabilia from films and tv dramatisation of Jane Austin books.

Some visiting children seemed very taken by the writing desk and the ink and quills. So once they finished I sat down and picked up a fresh card from the rack, dipped the big quill in purple ink and began writing- had to do a lot of dipping... It was not easy, and it increased my admiration for Jane Austen- writing her novels by hand...

I popped into the shop and bought a mouse mat; but it's just too much fun to use for that purpose. If you saw the TV version of P&P with Colin Firth, then you'll understand... :D

Mr Darcy mouse mat from the Jane Austin Centre

Then it was off again to meet up with a fellow writer for a chat and dinner.

So many museums, not enough time. But I did get through the three places I wanted to see...


  1. Sounds like you'll have to make a retunr visit, Carol - will you go to different places or revisit these in more depth?

  2. When I next get the chance to go to Bath, I want to see the Buildings of Bath exhibition, and the Holbourne Museum, and the Bath Post Museum...

    I always go to the Fashion Museum, Lizy, because the displays are different each year.

    I always learn new things, but already know a lot of the things from previous research.

  3. How lovely to be able to try on the costumes! I think you look rather mysterious, Carol! It has been really interesting hearing about your trip to Bath.
    My grandad used to make me quills with seagull feathers when I was a child and I used to try so hard to write with them, but it was very frustrating. Those writers who did had some staying power didn't they? :-) x

  4. Thanks, Teresa. It's always good to know that others have enjoyed hearing about my visit.

    I think I will have to make May each year, my 'visit an interesting place' month. :)

    Yes, you have to admire those writers perseverance, all those hand aching hours they must have spent writing.

  5. Brilliant costume photo, Carol! Oh, I'm so envious and really enjoying your trip from afar. Thanks for sharing it all.

    1. Glad you have enjoyed my posts, Rosemary.

      Have to admit that if there's an opportunity to try on costumes in a museum, I will. :D

  6. We have it easy now, don't we compared with those who wrote with quills by candlelight? Paper and ink would have been expensive luxuries for many people too.

    1. So right, Patsy.

      One of the staff in the last room at the Jane Austin Centre did say that sometimes JA used pencils, though they wouldn't be like the pencils we had as children, or now.


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