Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Dear Reader, More from Bath

Epiphany is still moored at Sydney Wharf, Bath

After a few jobs on the boat we walked into Bath again. The weather was rather cloudy and still breezy. We walked down Great Pulteney Street, which is well known for its Georgian Terraces and has been used in films of Jane Austen’s books.

Dear Reader, our destination was 40 Gay Street, about 10 minutes walk from the Kennet and Avon canal. Here is housed The Jane Austen Centre and exhibition. No. 40 is very similar to No. 25 where Jane Austen lived for a few months. John Wood, the elder and his son John Wood, the Younger built the houses between 1735 and 1760.

Jane actually lived in various houses around Bath for about five years from 1801 to 1806, but as the guide informed us, did not really like Bath. It is interesting to note, Dear Reader, that her books were first published (the first in 1811) without her name as author, as it was not the done thing for a lady to write. She was fortunate in having a supportive brother, Edward, but it was Henry who first brought her name to public notice in 1817, after her death.

As the daughter of a farming clergyman, she lived in relatively genteel poverty, moving from Hampshire to Bath where her father died. 4 years later the 3 women (Jane, her sister and her mother, both named Cassandra) moved into one of her rich brother Edward’s houses at Chawton, Hampshire. Here is "Jane" at her writing desk. She wrote in secret, on small pieces of paper, in extremely small handwriting.

At the moment there is an exhibition of the costumes created by Andrea Galer for the ITV production of Persuasion. You may remember it – I watched it and it was really good, especially as it had Rupert Penry-Jones of “Spooks” fame in it, drool drool!

In fact there is a 15-minute film in the exhibition with scenes from Persuasion including the last scene, which at the time had me in tears – as it did today. I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen the film!

So, Dear Reader, if you are a Jane Austen fan this is a “must visit” when in Bath! However we disagree with her opinion of Bath – we love it!

We found a very interesting church today – St Michaels Without.
“Without” because it is a church without the city walls as in “There is a green hill far away, without the city walls….” Are you any the wiser? In olden days – "without" meant outside!

Inside it has been, as they call it – reordered. Any clergyman or PCC member will know what this means! The picture will explain.

We think it is very beautiful and has been done very sympathetically, still maintaining the atmosphere and feeling of a church. They are able to hold all sorts of events because of its versatility and the church can be used for what it was meant to be – a community asset. The cafĂ© there does really good tea and yummy flapjacks too - served today by the assistant curate, Revd. Steven Faux.

Finally we found the newest addition to Bath.

I think it is rather incongruous amongst the Spa area of the city. But we have been told that people really enjoy the experience available at the Thermae Bath Spa. It is rather expensive at £65 for 2 hours: so not for us!

So we say farewell to Bath tomorrow and brave the River Avon. I am definitely NOT looking forward to Bath Deep Lock! John assures me that we will be fine on the River, but rivers are not my favourite waterways. (yet! - Ed.)


  1. What a wonderful trip! I was in Bath a couple years ago on a journey following Austen's life through England, and loved it as well. Sounds like you're on your way out, but my favorite tea spot was called The Bath Bun, in a little courtyard almost across from Sally Lunn's. cheers!

  2. It's not river untill the lock after the deep lock.

  3. Thanks Maffi - I did count right - it was just the thought of the deep lock and the river so soon together. But I survived as you see!


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