A DAY TRIP TO BATH
Let’s begin by taking a look at the namesake, the UNESCO World Heritage listed Roman Baths. Bath is a city founded by the Romans in the first century AD, named (unsurprisingly!) for the hot springs upon which the Romans built a bathing complex, and the Temple of Sulis Minerva. These ruins are some of the most important Roman remains north of the Alps, with the associated waters considered to hold health-giving properties, which led to it becoming England’s premier Spa town of the Georgian period.
The hot waters at Bath contain many minerals which have long been considered beneficial, especially for the ill and the elderly. In Regency times people were encouraged to drink or ‘take the waters’ at the Pump Room, which – surprise! – pumped the water from below and delivered it via a beautiful stone fountain to the willing.
Fans of Jane Austen films such as Persuasion and Northanger Abbey may remember seeing scenes set here. As well as being a place to drink to your health, it was also a place where one could promenade, to catch up on the latest gossip, to see and be seen. Today, one can still do the same!
Just a few steps away is the magnificent Bath Abbey (look at its amazing front door!)
Bath Abbey was founded in the 7th Century as a Benedictine monastery, which owes a lot of its current splendour to major restoration work in the mid-1800s, which means it is a little different to what Catherine and Jon would have seen, but its size and beauty is most apparent. This Grade 1 listed building is a wonderful example of Gothic architecture, and is noted for its breath-taking fan vaulting and stained glass. Definitely worth a visit.
(And Aussie friends – see who is commemorated here? Captain Arthur Philip is buried in a village nearby)
A walk past the shops and more beautiful 1700s buildings takes us to Queens Square (where I imagine Catherine’s Aunt Drusilla having an abode), and a short distance further along Gay Street brings us to the Jane Austen centre.
Here one can learn more about this illustrious author, take a tour and discover fascinating facts about the Regency era, try on Regency attire or have a go at using a quill.
You can even take tea with Mr. Darcy!
Next, we need to attend the location for tonight’s masquerade ball – the Upper Assembly Rooms. A walk up Milsom Steet takes us to the Assembly Rooms, where elegant society would assemble and mingle and perhaps engage in matchmaking.
These rooms consist of the Ballroom, Octagonal room, tea rooms, and card rooms, and were the site of dances, concerts and lectures, and the site of many dramatic scenes for Austen heroines. I used these elegant 18th Century rooms for a number of pivotal scenes for Miss Winthrop – including a masquerade!
Not far away is another of the iconic scenes of Bath – the Royal Crescent, a row of 30 terraced houses in a semicircle, and one of the most fabulous examples of Georgian architecture in Britain, and a prestige address with its views over the park opposite.
Of course, the Royal Crescent is also famous for THAT scene in the 2007 TV film of Persuasion.
Bath is built in the valley of the River Avon, with many steep streets and rows of terraced houses lining the surrounding hills. A walk along the river takes you across the beautiful Pulteney Bridge and up another hill to Sydney Gardens. This is another location mentioned in Austen and Georgette Heyer novels, and a place any true Austen aficionado should visit – and Austen-inspired authors should use. So, of course I had to set several scenes here, especially as the many trees and paths make it perfect for secret rendezvous.
Well, today has been a big day, so it must be time to head back to our Bed & Breakfast, and get ready for tonight's Masquerade. Thank you for joining me - I hope you've had a fun visit in beautiful World Heritage-listed Bath!
Bath has many iconic settings for those who love their Jane Austen films!