Touring with Jane Austen ~ Bath, England

Gentle Readers who love to travel, especially those who love to follow in Jane Austen’s Footsteps:  I am linking to this post by Nan Quick, one of our JASNA members from New Hampshire.  She had emailed me recently to tell me of her website for armchair travelers, with one of her posts on Jane Austen’s Bath … I append it here – with lovely pictures and lively commentary, how perfect to visit such a place as this, when so many of us are snowed-in! So with dreams of warmer climes and Jane Austen hovering nearby, here you go…

Bath 1 - Nan Q

I really wanted to call this Armchair Traveler Chapter “Jane Austen’s Bath.” But holding forth about Jane’s bathing habits would have given me ammunition for a brief and not very interesting article. So, instead it’ll be “Jane Austen AND Bath.” I’ll try to describe the City as it was during the times when she lived there, and I’ll show you many of the locations that she used in two of her books. Happily, the built world of today’s Bath is largely unchanged from Jane’s time. Over the past two centuries the City’s fame has protected it from indiscriminate “improvements,” and so visiting Bath today gives a fairly good impression of what Jane’s days there might have been like.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re Austen-informed, and have thus read NORTHANGER ABBEY and PERSUASION, which are called Austen’s Bath novels.

On May 28th, 2011 I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon in Bath. Of course, in England, the weather has a mind of its own, and storms from a place called “Bill’s Mother’s” descended. Here’s how it is with Bill: the locals always say bad weather is blown in from a mythical place called “Bill’s Mother’s.” I thought you should know, just in case you go to Bath and people start talking weather. On that Saturday my British friends and I were rained upon, blown about, and generally frozen; late May felt like early March. But I’d asked Anne and David and Janet (who you’ve met in my earlier Armchair Traveler pieces) to make the long round-trip drive on the traffic-jammed M5 with me from the Midlands down to Bath, expressly so I could make the following words REAL to myself:

“The Crescent,” “Milsom Street,” “Pulteney Street,” “The Pump Yard.” I also wanted to clear my confusion, once and for all, about all those infernal ROOMS that Austen’s characters scurried between: the Upper Rooms, or the New Assembly Rooms; the Lower Rooms; and the Pump Room. Even though my time there was short, and the weather awful, I managed to get a sense of the lay of the land, which is what I’d like to share with you.

Continue reading…

Bath 2 - Nan Q
[Images from Nan]


  • Liverpool (Gormley, McCartney, Lennon) ;
  • The Ruins at Witley Court ;
  • and ending with Chawton and Jane Austen’s House

This is a long post, so if Jane is your only interest, then scroll through it to the end – but I advise you see read the whole thing – I was in a Liverpool a few years ago and it was very nice to re-live that trip – so thank you Nan!

A Happy Day Indeed!

Oh, be still my heart! ~  it is on this day,  February 6th,  that Catherine meets Henry Tilney in the Lower Rooms in Bath:

Bath, Lower Rooms

Bath, Lower Rooms

They made their appearance in the Lower Rooms; and here fortune was more favourable to our heroine. The master of the ceremonies introduced to her a very gentlemanlike young man as a partner; his name was Tilney. He seemed to be about four or five and twenty, was rather tall, had a pleasing countenance, a very intelligent and lively eye, and, if not quite handsome, was very near it. His address was good, and Catherine felt herself in high luck. There was little leisure for speaking while they danced; but when they were seated at tea, she found him as agreeable as she had already given him credit for being. He talked with fluency and spirit – and there was an archness and pleasantry in his manner which interested, though it was hardly understood by her. After chatting some time on such matters as naturally arose from the objects around them, he suddenly addressed her with – “I have hitherto been very remiss, madam, in the proper attentions of a partner here; I have not yet asked you how long you have been in Bath; whether you were ever here before; whether you have been at the Upper Rooms, the theatre, and the concert; and how you like the place altogether. I have been very negligent – but are you now at leisure to satisfy me in these particulars? If you are I will begin directly.”

and followed by a lively discussion of Bath, and concerts, and journals and writing and muslins, the reader is left with the narrator’s thoughts…:

…for if it be true, as a celebrated writer has maintained, that no young lady can be justified in falling in love before the gentleman’s love is declared, it must be very improper that a young lady should dream of a gentleman before the gentleman is first known to have dreamt of her…

[Northanger Abbey, ch. 3]

And Henry leaves Bath the very next day for a WHOLE week, Catherine completely distraught at the loss.  I always thought this was quite enterprising of Henry!

We all have our own view of Henry Tilney … certainly Mags at Austenblog has single-handedly brought Tilney the attention he so richly deserves! [see also her site Tilneys and Trapdoors].  When I first read Northanger Abbey, I thought Henry was a condescending bore, on a second reading I thought he was quite funny, on subsequent readings, Henry becomes more and more delightful, ever more charming on every re-reading, really quite to die-for – who needs the proud, socially awkward Mr. Darcy when there is a Henry Tilney about?!

So I bring you ~  the many faces of Henry Tilney ~

C.E. Brock

C.E. Brock

C.E. Brock

C.E. Brock

"Bath Compared with London," said Mr. Tilney, "has little variety."  [Paul Hardy]”]”]Joan Hassall [Folio Society, 1975]

“]”]Shades from Jane Austen [1975]

Shades from Jane Austen, 1975

”]”]Peter Firth as Henry [1986]

”]”]J.J. Feild as Henry [2008]





Further reading:

[Note:  Brock images courtesy of Molland’s

So what does YOUR Henry Tilney look like?? [all comments  and pictures most welcome!]

A Haunting in Bath ~ an Austen-related Halloween

Thanks to Georgie Lee’s blog for this mention:  for information on the “Ghosts of Bath”, visit Hollow Hill, one of the web’s oldest sites for Ghosts and all things spooky… the man in the black hat in the Assembly Rooms; the coach drawn by four horses in the Royal Crescent; the ghost of the Theatre Royal and Garrick’s Head Pub; a hooded figure at the Crystal Palace Tavern; a jilted bride of Queen’s Square… and many more…

and for some additional holiday reading, try this book by John Brooks:


The Web Round-up: all things Austen

 Some tidbits for this week: