2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the first publication of Pride and Prejudice, one of Jane Austen’s most famous and popular titles - and what better way to celebrate than with a Jane Austen inspired city break?
Here are our top 10 suggestions for your regency style stay…
1. Stay where Jane lived and walked
Number 4 Sydney Place is an 18th century Georgian apartment where Jane once lived with her family in the early 1800s. The reading room (now an additional sleeping area) with original stained glass windows is where she used to read and write as a young lady. Jane also knew the Royal Crescent well, often walking along it on Sundays after church. Promenading along the Royal Crescent was a very fashionable thing to do, in order to be seen by other members of high society. The Royal Crescent Hotel, which sits in the middle of The Crescent, is a 5 star establishment that offers luxury bedrooms and fine dining.
2. Follow in the footsteps of Jane Austen
Download our free Jane Austen audio walking tour to your smart phone or MP3 player and discover Bath as Jane would have seen it. If you prefer a traditional walking tour however, the Jane Austen Centre offers experienced guides that can take you to the places where Jane lived, walked, visited and shopped.
3. Take a trip to ‘Meryton’
In the 1995 BBC television adaptation of Pride & Prejudice, starring Colin Firth as Mr Darcy, picturesque Lacock was used as the setting for the village of Meryton. Mad Max Tours runs regular full and half day trips from Bath out to Lacock, via Stonehenge.
4. The Jane Austen Centre and The Assembly Rooms
Visiting the Jane Austen Centre is a must for any keen fan coming to Bath. The centre offers a snapshot of her life during Regency times and also has an excellent tea room that serves delicious cream teas. The impressive Assembly Rooms, once a hub for fashionable Georgian society, held many evening balls where young ladies would hope to meet the eligible men staying in Bath, and are mentioned in two of Jane Austen’s novels. The Assembly Rooms are open to the public and certainly worth visiting to marvel at the grand interior.
5. Looking for Mr Darcy?
If you’re on the lookout for your very own Mr Darcy whilst visiting Bath then there’s plenty of places in the city where you might be able to find him. It could be in one of the top night spots, such as Circo Bar & Lounge or Central Bar; on or off the pitch at a Bath Rugby match; or at an exciting race meeting at Bath Racecourse. Don't forget to take a look at our modern day Mr Darcy video too!
6. Take Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea was a popular activity in Regency times, with Jane herself taking tea in the Assembly Rooms. The tradition is still very popular today and none more so than in Bath. The Pump Room Restaurant is famous for its afternoon tea and was used as a filming location in the ITV adaption of Persuasion. Regency visitors also used to drink up to 8 pints a day of the spa water, considered to be beneficial to your health - you can still sample a glass of spa water at the Pump Room today.
Milsom Street was a popular place for shopping in Regency times, with Jane Austen’s characters shopping here for bows and bonnets. Milsom Street is still a fantastic shopping location today, with a mixture of independent shops and familiar names such as Ted Baker, Gap, Reiss and Waterstones. It is also home to Jollys, one of the oldest department stores in the world that opened in 1831.
8. Gravel Walk and Georgian Garden
Just across from the Jane Austen Centre, stroll along Gravel Walk, which was known as something of a Lover's Lane in Jane Austen's day and the setting for a touching love scene in Persuasion. Traditionally the path was used as a route for sedan chairs heading to and from the Royal Crescent to the town centre. Part way along Gravel Walk, tucked discreetly behind number 4 The Circus, lies a Georgian Garden, recreated to the original plan of circa 1760/1770 and how it would have appeared in Jane Austen’s time. The Garden is open to the public with free entry.
9. Take the waters
Visitors often came to Bath in Regency times to ‘take the waters’ and help cure them of any ailments. Jane’s brother Edward did just this when he came to Bath and was suffering from suspected gout. As well as drinking the water in the Pump Room, bathing in the waters was also very popular, just like today. Thermae Bath Spa is the only place in the UK where you can bathe in natural thermal waters, with a stunning view of the city from the rooftop pool.
10. Places to propose
If you’re planning on whisking your partner away for a romantic weekend to pop the question, Bath is the perfect place. The city has some fabulous and memorable spots for proposing, many of which are perfect for Jane Austen fans, such as; the Palladian Bridge at Prior Park; The Pump Room; The Royal Crescent and Sydney Gardens where Jane once strolled; and Gravel Walk, where characters Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth from Persuasion agree to marry.