Bath: Following in Jane Austen’s footsteps

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that all Jane Austen fans will eventually find their way to Bath

Yes, embarrassingly enough, I am one of the “Janeites” :  a lover of all things Jane Austen who has read and re-read her six novels and watched countless adaptations of her works by the BBC, ITV and others.

Bath photo courtesy ITV – the town as the set of ‘Persuasion’

As all fans of Jane Austen  – and even those who dislike her, but were forced to read her during high school English classes –  know, Bath plays prominently in her works. Jane Austen lived in Bath for five years and two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were largely set there.

So, on a recent trip to London with my two young children, I decided to take a London day trip to Bath, two hours away by train from London’s Paddington Station. My husband was not along on this trip and my two sons are too young to protest, so the timing seemed perfect to make my own pilgrimage to Jane Austen’s former hometown. Bath, an elegant town originally settled by the Ancient Romans and containing stunning Georgian and Victorian architecture, is truly a wonderful European destination, even for non-Jane-obsessed travellers.

The Roman Baths (unearthed after Austen’s time in Bath) with the Bath Abbey in the background.

Neha has already written about the excellent Jane Austen Centre , but there is also a Jane Austen walking tour, led by knowledgeable guides who pepper the walking tour commentary with segments from Jane’s letters, scenes from her books and shooting locations of the films.

The Crescent

Fans of the books and films will enjoy the commentary and visiting the real sites of fictional scenes from the books, such as the Assembly Hall where the concert scene in Persuasion takes place, the very room in which the dastardly William Elliot comes between the novel’s protagonists.

The Assembly Hall where Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth attend a concert in ‘Persuasion’

In addition to points of interest from Jane Austen’s novels, the walking tour takes in many Bath attractions with their striking architecture, including the abbey, the Roman baths, the Pump Room, the Crescent and the Circus and is a wonderful way to get a feel for the city.

Even decidedly non-Jane Austen fans, such as the two I had in tow on my Bath pilgrimage, will appreciate the expanses of green and parks dotting this graceful city. Clearly, Bath sightseeing offers something for everyone, although, alas,  I can’t speak for ‘single women in want of rich husbands’. Readers, any lucky Bath encounters with modern-day Captain Wentworths or Mr. Darcys?

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