20 July 2012

A Day with Jane Austen

Wells Cathedral & Blue Sky!
I left Wells with a lovely view of Wells Cathedral and the bluest skies I've seen since I've been in England!  What a lovely day!

A Street in Bath
I found my way to Bath with no difficulties thanks to Sat Nav!  But once inside the city, I drove in circles trying to figure out how to get where I needed to go in order to park within walking distance of all the places I wanted to visit!  Even the Sat Nav couldn't help!  But I did get a good overview of the main center area of Bath!  Eventually, I found my way to a car park, noted the landmarks and made my way up the street!

The Pump Room Entrance
First stop was at The Pump Room!  I felt like I knew it well from reading Jane Austen's Persuasion (my favorite of her books!) and from seeing the two more recent movies!

The Pump Room Water Fountain
While the main room is now a restaurant, they keep access open to see the "pump" aka, The King's Spring.

Fish Fountain in the Pump Room
I loved the fish capturing the water!  Though frosted with age, they are still beautiful!

The Pump Room overlooking the Roman Bath
The windows behind the pump look down into the Roman Baths, my next stop!

The Roman Bath
The tour starts out on the upper level looking down in.  At this level, there are several statues of Roman figures ~ carved in the 1800's!  I hadn't realized that the baths had been built over and only rediscovered around 3-400 years ago and excavated out until you can see what we see today,  Remarkably, all the engineering that kept the water flowing remains intact!

Me at the Roman Bath
Here I am at the Baths.  My previous experience with thermal baths involves a strong sulphur odor but these waters have little to no smell!  Just that pervasive green color!

Roman Bath
The color comes from algae that grows in the warm water.  There were signs everywhere saying that it wasn't safe to drink or even to touch.  The guide I asked, said it is partly to do with the great number of pigeons in the area!

Layers of Roman Paving
There are layers of paving all around the baths.  Much of it is worn smooth and slick with age and the tread of two thousand years of visitors.

The Overflow for the Roman Bath
This is an overflow drain that helps to keep the bath full at a constant level and keeps it from flooding.  The engineering of the whole thing is quite amazing.

Modern Pump to Taste the Waters at Bath
We did get to try the water from a fresh, uncontaminated source.  My assessment?  Warm with a strong mineral undertone.  Not horrible, but not something I'd want to sip on throughout the day either!  A quote on the wall said,
"If they can't be cured by drinking and bathing here, They will never be cured anywhere."
Dr. William Oliver, 1707
The Jane Austen Center
My next stop was the Jane Austen Center, where I was greeted at the door by this kind gentleman!

Guide at the Jane Austen Center
There was a nice presentation on Jane Austen's life in Bath.

Regency Display
Then we toured through the museum displays on life in the era of Jane Austen and her books.

Letter from Jane Austen to her sister
I enjoyed it all, but perhaps the highlight for me was to see a real letter of Jane's to her sister Cassandra! To see someone's handwriting makes them seem so alive and real.  As a society it is something that we are going to lose in this age of computers and technological communication.  It makes me sad, but also makes me realize that I need to take more time to handwrite those notes to people and not always zip off the quick e-mail.

Keep Calm and Read Jane Austen!
In the shop, I got a kick out of seeing this sign on the famous "Keep Calm" theme that is so popular right now!

The Circus
I walked through The Circus on my way to the Fashion Museum.  I had driven through it earlier in the day, along with the Royal Crescent.  Once again, so pleasurable to see a place in person that I've read about and seen in movies and photos previously!

The Assembly Rooms (aka The Fashion Museum)
And then I was at The Assembly Rooms, also known as The Fashion Museum.  It took me a while to realize just what the Assembly Rooms were ~ namely the place where Anne Elliot attends the concert and has one of her famous interactions with Captain Wentworth.

Regency Dresses at The Fashion Museum
The real reason I came to the Fashion Museum was to see their collection of Regency era dresses!  They were displayed nicely in the active storerooms of the museum.  The lights were dim (I've lightened the photos considerably so you can actually see the dresses) to help preserve the clothes.  The boxes behind the display are filled with other garments in the collection.  There are study rooms in which you can make arrangements to view specific items.  It was a delight to see these real dresses with their exquisitely fine materials and hand embroidered decorations!

Silk sewing threads at The Fashion Museum
In one area, they had a regency era box of silk sewing threads on display.  Just gorgeous!

Rush hour in Bath
And finally at the end of the day, it was time to leave Bath.  Once again, I got lost and couldn't find the car park where I'd left my car!  I usually have a great sense of direction, but it has vanished here in the UK!  I was glad I had noted the landmarks around the car park as that was finally the key to figuring out where it was!  A kind person helped me figure it out and I was on my way... albeit ever so slowly, as I managed to leave right at the peak of traffic out of the city!  I think it was the most nerve wracking driving I've done here in England to date.  It was a relief to finally get out to the M-5 and just be able to drive without having to think about turning, shifting and finding my way for a bit!  Though I enjoyed my visit to Bath, I was definitely feeling similar to what Jane wrote to her sister Cassandra about leaving Bath:
we left Bath for ____, with what happy feelings of escape!
High Street in Broadway
I arrived mid-evening to the fairytale village of Broadway in the Cotswolds!  The setting sun made the golden stone building glow!  What a pleasant change to be in this quiet town after the bustle and noise of Bath!


10 comments:

Leeanne said...

You make me want to travel out of our sweet New Zealand....the old buildings are breath taking!

Val said...

Love Bath. Did you get to see the Abbey where the stone angels are climbing up (and falling down) the front of the building? And the Pulteney Bridge? I'm so glad you got to see the Jane Austen Centre when you're such a fan! You're having a great trip.

Laurie said...

My sister would be envious Lisa, she's a huge Jane Austin fan. I'll have to put New Zealand on my list of places I'd go if I weren't afraid to fly.

Cathy K said...

Another lovely and informative post! I had not realized that the Roman baths had been excavated - I thought that they had just always been there, left alone. Anyway, you are becoming a master at driving on the "wrong side" of the road! BTW, you are looking really good, too! I wish you continued good health and safe travels! hugs, Cat

wendy said...

I'm enjoying your post! such nice pictures, would love to go to England one day! I agree with you about hand writing, I try to write letters and Thank You notes on a regular basis, it's still more fun to get a letter in your mail box I think. Have a wonderful day!

Leslie said...

What an amazing trip you're having and thanks so much for all the photos - it's almost like being along for the ride. Have always been captivated by the myth and legend of Tintagel and you had so many good photos of it. Keep having fun and posting about it!

The Sampler Girl said...

Oh how lovely!!! Thank you for sharing such wonderful pics.

Tanya, Janeite at heart

Leslie's Garden said...

What a wonderful trip you are having. I enjoyed seeing the dresses, they are lovely!

welltraveled said...

Oh Lisa , your England posts just keep getting better and better.
I am so thrilled for you to be living your own dream

Heide said...

Hi, Lisa - such a marvelous trip and what sights to be seeing!! You'll have stories galore for years to come. Jilly, jolly good show!!

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