July 2017 marked 200 years since the death of Bath’s most famous resident, Jane Austen. The celebrated novelist knew Bath as a thriving spa resort, popular with fashionable society, and set two of her six published novels – Northanger Abbey and Persuasion – in the city.
We’ve sought out the ten quirkiest ways in which you can remember Jane and her legacy in the city this year.
Immerse yourself in the world of Jane Austen with a stay in the city. Enjoy a romantic escape in the four poster grandeur of the Jane Austen Room at Bailbrook House, or bring your friends and luxuriate in the Georgian chic elegance of Mr Darcy’s Abode, Bath Boutique Stays’ lavish seven-bed townhouse.
According to Michael Raffael’s book “The Curiosities of Bath” [Birlinn 2006]; “Bath buns don’t slip into the English language until a young Jane Austen writes a typically mischievous letter about “disordering my stomach with Bath bunns.” The extra letter ‘n’ may not be an accidental slip. She could be referring to Sally Lunns. Nor is she criticising their indigestibility, simply implying that she liked pigging out on them as a form of comfort eating.” Take the taste test for yourself at Sally Lunn’s.
Meet ‘Gin’ Austen and savour a Bath Gin cocktail upstairs in the Canary Gin Bar, or take a Gin Making Class at the Bath Gin Botanical Laboratory & Distillery to craft your own gin.
No time for reading? Then download the new audio book of Northanger Abbey from Audible.co.uk and enjoy the dulcet tones of Emma Thompson as Jane Austen, as she and a host of young British actors bring the author’s first completed novel to life.
During Jane’s time in Bath, one of her favourite pastimes was to “take the air” in Sydney Gardens after breakfasting at the Sydney Hotel, now the Holburne Museum. Follow in Jane’s footsteps with an al fresco breakfast in the museum’s beautiful Garden Café, followed by a stroll through the charming gardens.
Discover the places Jane Austen frequented while brushing up your photography technique on the Jane Austen Photo Tour with Photo Tours in Bath.
Milsom Street, where Jane and her contemporaries would have shopped for hats and ribbons, is still the place to go for trinkets and fripperies, gifts and high fashion. You could even pop into V V Rouleaux, a modern day atelier supplying contemporary haberdashery, to pick up a selection of the finest ribbons, couture flowers and tassels.
You couldn’t take a Jane Austen pilgrimage to Bath without visiting the Jane Austen Centre. This beautiful centre on Gay Street expertly guides you through Jane’s time in Bath and the effect that it had on her writing. Dress in Regency costume, discover what Jane really looked like (it’s controversial!) and afterwards enjoy a spot of refreshment with afternoon tea in the Regency Tea Rooms.
In Bath’s Georgian era, residents would have raised their eyes to the sky in wonderment and awe at the relatively new ‘technology’ of ballooning. 200 years later, ballooning is no longer the preserve of the Georgian gentry – take flight with Bath Balloons to enjoy a breath-taking view over the “seven hills” of Bath.
The Jane Austen Festival takes place over ten days in September, and welcomes everyone from faithful fans to fair-weather friends. With a festival line-up including concerts, performances, talks, tours, workshops and promenades, the occasion is a true celebration of the life of this influential novelist.