Discover Jane Austen’s Bath

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”

The instantly recognisable opening lines of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice introduce us to the society she knew so well. As the Georgian era gave way to the Regency period, she captures a time of great change when women, striving to be independent, were still reliant on men for income – fathers, husbands or generous relatives.

For Jane her fiction was based on fact. She was born and died in Hampshire and lived there all her life, except for a short but happy period spent in Bath. She never married and, although the income from her novels offered her brief independence, her fortunes were reliant on others and she died a spinster, deeply affected by family money problems.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s untimely death at the age of 41. In just four years she wrote novels which beautifully captured the lives of the well-off at the end of the 18th century – Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma. Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Lady Susan were published posthumously.

For Jane her fiction was based on fact. She was born and died in Hampshire and lived there all her life, except for a short but happy period spent in Bath. She never married and, although the income from her novels offered her brief independence, her fortunes were reliant on others and she died a spinster, deeply affected by family money problems.

This year marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s untimely death at the age of 41. In just four years she wrote novels which beautifully captured the lives of the well-off at the end of the 18th century – Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Emma. Northanger Abbey, Persuasion and Lady Susan were published posthumously.

The city of Bath remains relatively unchanged from the period when Jane lived there. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the fine Georgian and Regency architecture provided her with inspiration and locations for her novels.

The Austens had moved to Bath from a Hampshire village in 1800 when Jane was 25. She did some writing during her time in Bath but spent a lot of her time simply soaking up the elegant atmosphere. She would socialise at the Pump Room and Assembly Rooms, which both feature in her two novels set in Bath – Persuasion and Northanger Abbey – and on Sundays would promenade along the Royal Crescent – an arc of John Wood designed houses. In Persuasion, she sets a romantic encounter in Gravel Walk, behind The Circus.

Simply wandering the Bath streets will give you an idea of the city Jane knew. In Georgian times it was a popular destination with its spa, the Roman Baths and the 7th century Bath Abbey, still fascinating places to visit.

For your visit, start at the Jane Austen Centre in Gay Street, a building which dates from the Regency era. Here you will learn the story of Jane’s time in Bath from 1800 to 1805 when her father’s death forced the family to return to Hampshire. Guides are in Regency costume to add to the period atmosphere and there are exhibitions and films as well as the chance to put on some Regency costumes for photos. End your visit at the Regency Tea Rooms where staff, again in period dress, serve afternoon tea with style.

Simply wandering the Bath streets will give you an idea of the city Jane knew. In Georgian times it was a popular destination with its spa, the Roman Baths and the 7th century Bath Abbey, still fascinating places to visit.

For your visit, start at the Jane Austen Centre in Gay Street, a building which dates from the Regency era. Here you will learn the story of Jane’s time in Bath from 1800 to 1805 when her father’s death forced the family to return to Hampshire. Guides are in Regency costume to add to the period atmosphere and there are exhibitions and films as well as the chance to put on some Regency costumes for photos. End your visit at the Regency Tea Rooms where staff, again in period dress, serve afternoon tea with style.

Number One Royal Crescent was designed by John Wood, a master of Palladian architecture. Now run by the Bath Preservation Trust charity as a museum, it is decorated as it would have been in its Georgian heyday, 1776-1796. Explore the house on a fascinating tour and see the historic furniture, pictures and other objects that show what life was like for Bath’s fashionable residents. This year marks the 250th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone at The Royal Crescent.

The Bath Preservation Trust also runs The Herschel Museum of Astronomy in King Street. This is where amateur astronomer William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus in March 1781, doubling the size of the known universe.  Herschel was self-taught and built his own telescopes at home.

More modest than the 30 houses in The Royal Crescent, this Grade II* listed townhouse is also dressed in the authentic style of the period.

The Roman Baths and Pump Room have been attracting people to Bath for centuries and today over a million people a year will visit. A redevelopment in 2011 made new discoveries and harnessed cutting edge technology to offer an insight into life in Roman times. The Pump Room offers morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea in neo-classical surroundings with live music, much as it was in Jane Austen’s time.

Jane mentions the Bath Assembly Rooms in her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion as a place for dancing, music and romance. The same building houses Bath’s Fashion Museum where you can travel through centuries of fashion and even try on replica Regency costumes.

The Roman Baths and Pump Room have been attracting people to Bath for centuries and today over a million people a year will visit. A redevelopment in 2011 made new discoveries and harnessed cutting edge technology to offer an insight into life in Roman times. The Pump Room offers morning coffee, lunch and afternoon tea in neo-classical surroundings with live music, much as it was in Jane Austen’s time.

Jane mentions the Bath Assembly Rooms in her novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion as a place for dancing, music and romance. The same building houses Bath’s Fashion Museum where you can travel through centuries of fashion and even try on replica Regency costumes.

If you’d like to explore Bath and get a feel for the city that inspired Jane Austen, why not join us on our Bath, Stonehenge and a Secret Place Tour? During our time in the city you’ll have the chance to see all the best bits, including The Royal Crescent, Royal Circus, Jane Austen Centre, Bath Abbey, the Roman Baths and more.