Magical Bath – An Unforgettable Experience

Magical Bath – An Unforgettable Experience

Bath is, I think, one of the few places left in England – and perhaps the best of them all – where you can catch a real glimpse of Georgian Britain. Somehow, it had escaped the ravages of time and the 1970s ‘improvements’ and had remained a timeless capsule of yesteryear beauty. To me, Bath is a perfect indication of what Mr. Darcy’s London might have looked like.

Bath 1  Bath 2

The beautiful illusion was encouraged by the fact that, thanks to Sophie Andrews’ friends and family, we were privileged to stay in an exquisite apartment on Great Pulteney Street of all places, and by simply looking out of the large sash windows we were transported back in time.


And then, as soon as we walked out, we encountered people dressed in Regency apparel wandering hither and thither down the old paved streets.

The first time I went to the Bath festival and I dressed up in costume I felt very self-conscious about it. I had come for the day, just for the Promenade, dressed in ‘civilian clothes’, with my Regency finery in a very large bag. A kindly lady in a very posh boutique allowed me to use the changing cubicle, and I went inside in jeans and came out in a Regency frock and a hat fit for Mrs Bennet, with the clear feeling that I was slightly off my rocker.

Profile photo Sept 2014

Not so this year. If anything, after a while, as I was rushing to some event or another with several giggly ladies dressed for the part, it felt like we were the ones wearing the right apparel, and it was the people in modern-day clothes who were out of place. And the loveliest experience was to walk past people we’ve never met before, but with whom we instantly felt a sense of kinship, because they were dressed up too and they would smile and nod or greet us with a very proper curtsy.

I think it’s the sense of kinship that I value most of all. The real world is what it is, with its clear benefits in terms of sanitation and healthcare, but also lots of other aspects we could well do without. The people in the real world might look upon us with amusement or mild exasperation (and by that I mean not only strangers, but also family and friends). But us Janeites understand each other. We know why we spend ages making a bonnet or sewing a Regency dress. Of course we do, it makes perfect sense! And, despite the odd disappointment, I’m still looking for that sense of kinship, and I’m grateful and ever so happy when I find it.

I certainly found it this year. The company was delightful. Not only the wonderful friends I came with or already knew, but also people I knew by sight but not by name from previous years, or completely new ‘additions to the party’.

We gathered at the Assembly Rooms:

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We walked together in the Promenade.

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We danced together at the Assembly Rooms, just as they did in Jane Austen’s time (oh, the dances!! I never knew I had so much of Lydia in me!), while in another room others were busily engaged in games of cards, and then we ‘sat down for supper’ in true Regency splendour.

Bath 3 Bath 4



Bath 5

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The next day there was a picnic and a game of rounders on the lawn before the Royal Crescent:

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This was followed by an exquisite concert at the Holburne Museum 20150913_201118, and we were treated to a great selection that included ‘Voi che sapete’, the ‘Rondo alla Turca’, which Mrs Hurst had played so skilfully in the 1995 adaptation, as well as Mary’s aria that had begun with ‘My mother bids me bind my hair with bands of rosy hue…’ but was never finished because Mr Bennet timely although rather insensitively interrupted her.



Then we went home to play the funniest board game I’ve ever played. ‘Marrying Mr. Darcy’ is a must-have for every Janeite, even though our friends and family won’t be easily persuaded to play, and we might have to resort to Skype for a long-distance get together. What can be more entertaining than a game where nothing is set in stone, and you can end up with an outcome as outrageous as Miss Bingley eloping with Wickham, Mr. Darcy marrying Lydia (shock-horror!) or Charlotte Lucas landing the dashing Captain Denny (hence the smug look on my face).

Marrying Mr D 3_s

Marrying Mr D 1  Marrying Mr D 2

The week continued with a series of unmissable events such as ‘Crime and Punishment in Georgian Britain’ and ‘Know your phaeton from your curricle’, an extremely informative talk by Hazel Mills on Regency travel, where Hazel told us everything we needed to know about roads, turnpikes, coaching inns as well as the vehicles owned by some Jane Austen characters, and what their conveyances said about them. Then there was a rather scary incursion into Regency medicine, courtesy of ‘Mr. James Buchan, the apothecary’. This is one of the characters played with such gusto by Mr. John S. White, Performance Historian and I can’t recommend his performances enough! You might be so fortunate as to see them, he has appearances all over the UK and US, and they really are unmissable treats. Check out to find out more.

On the following day I had the great pleasure to help with the set up for the ‘Laughing with Lizzie’ event at number 4 Sydney Place, where the lovely Sophie Andrews was announced as an ambassador for the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation.

(Photo Andrew Knowles)


For the rest of the week there were Regency dress workshops, a taster session of Georgian puddings that included a surprisingly delicious one involving eggs, oranges and spinach, an extremely entertaining talk by John Mullan (don’t miss the chance to hear him too, if you can!), a very moving demonstration on the harp and an excellent performance of ‘Emma’, by Hotbuckle Productions.


I wish my time in Regency England would never end. But I missed my family – and there would be other years. I hope you’ll give it a go sometime and we can get together for the Jane Austen Bath Festival, to laugh and talk and party like it’s 1799!





21 Responses to Magical Bath – An Unforgettable Experience

  1. I did visit Bath with my husband as we toured the British Isles for our 35th anniversary celebration in Spring of 2004. But I knew nothing of any Jane Austen Societies at that time. I did visit the Jane Austen Centre there while my husband visited a pub…LOL. We did other local attractions, i.e., the Roman Baths, etc. I did not go in period wear, obviously, but it was lovely seeing your photos and the brave souls who did dress in period costume. Thank you for sharing.

    • I hope you do, Susan! It’s a beautiful place, and meeting up with lots of people who have the same addiction is just priceless. Thanks for stopping by to read the post, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing this post Joanna. I love the pictures as they almost make me feel like I was there. I do hope to get there one day. And giess what my DH purchased for me….Marrying Mr. Darcy (perhaps we’ll play this weekend). The announcement about Sophie was so wonderful.

    • What a lovely and thoughtful DH, Debbie!! So did you play? Who got who? I do hope you’ll make it to Bath one year, I’d LOVE to meet up with you there! (I’d love to meet up with you anywhere, actually, but Bath during the Jane Austen Festival is just the best). Thanks for the lovely comment, I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, and I’m so happy for Sophie, she’s perfect for the role and the role is perfect for her!

  3. How diverting! 😉 I loved following your trail at Bath and seeing the pictures. There must be nothing better than to participate in a Jane Austen demonstration and educational event. I would dearly love to go, but alas I shall not. Thus, my thanks for your taking me with you. Loved it, Joana!

    • My absolute pleasure, Brenda! I love sharing good things with my friends, and you’re such a wonderful friend! I hope there ever is a way of meeting face to face someday. Ever so sorry to hear it won’t be in Bath but who knows? Fingers crossed, maybe someday, somewhere it would happen. All the best and thanks again for all your support and the lovely words!

  4. It’s been a delight seeing all the photos that all of you posted on Facebook during the course of the Festival, Joana. The chances are I’ll possibly never make it down to Bath from Yorkshire (I’m working on a cunning plan for Chawton next year) but this has been the next best thing to being there!

    Thanks so much for all the photos, descriptions and stories.

    • Great to hear about your Chawton cunning plan, Anji, hope it works out! I hope you’ll make it to Bath too one year, it’s really worth it and it’s not much further away. I’m ever so glad that the photos and the post made a difference and that you enjoyed them. Hugs and it would be lovely to meet face to face someday.

  5. I have been to Bath and do love it. Wish I could have been there for the classes just as I wish I could attend the various meetings of JASNA in the USA.
    Thanks for the pictures and the report.

  6. That sounds amazing. I had never been to Bath but always wanted to go so a few years ago when my daughter was here (from Australia) she took my mum and I there as a treat for my 60th. We stayed in a beautiful apartment on Henrietta Street near Laura Place and had a wonderful time. My favourite part was visiting the fashion museum in the assembly rooms. It was fabulous and we all really enjoyed the few hours we spent there. I would visit again any time and would love to go during the Jane Austen festival. Thanks for sharing your trip

    • My pleasure, Glynis 🙂 I know Henrietta Street, it’s very close to where we stayed. Lovely to hear about your trip with your family, what a fantastic birthday treat that must have been! Hope we’ll meet up there one year for the festival, it would be wonderful to chat face to face.

  7. Thank you so so much for sharing this!! I feel like I was there. I love the food and your cat and am also certain I am a closet Lydia when it comes to dancing. :):) This seems like such a fabulous time.

    • I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, Cecilia and LOL re. a closet Lydia 😀
      I never knew I was one until last year, when I met Mr Wickham in person. He wasn’t there this time, a great pity because he’s absolutely wonderful, not Wickham-y at all. But at least we had the dancing, and thanks, it really was a fabulous time.

Your thoughts are precious!