A Day with Jane Austen
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!
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!
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!
While the main room is now a restaurant, they keep access open to see the "pump" aka, The King's Spring.
I loved the fish capturing the water! Though frosted with age, they are still beautiful!
The windows behind the pump look down into the Roman Baths, my next stop!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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
My next stop was the Jane Austen Center, where I was greeted at the door by this kind gentleman!
There was a nice presentation on Jane Austen's life in Bath.
Then we toured through the museum displays on life in the era of Jane Austen and her books.
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.
In the shop, I got a kick out of seeing this sign on the famous "Keep Calm" theme that is so popular right now!
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!
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.
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!
In one area, they had a regency era box of silk sewing threads on display. Just gorgeous!
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!
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!