A Charming Place – Jane Austin and Bath – a talk by Elizabeth Merry on September 11th.
Elizabeth opened her talk with the quote from Jane Austen ‘Who could ever be tired of Bath?’ Bath was described as a ‘valley of pleasure’ at the time of Jane Austen. Elizabeth began her talk with an introduction to the history of Bath and its sacred spring – its Roman origins and its demise after the Romans left. During the 12th. century it was used as a curative bath and then during the 17th. century Bath began to develop as a place to visit, a place with royal approval, especially the approval of Queen Ann. The development of Bath was especially due to Beau Nash. Hoare, who was a famous painter based in Bath painted this portrait of Beau Nash in 1705.
In the early 18th Century there were many improvements in Bath. These included putting lighting in the streets and creating wide boulevards. John Wood the elder established the city’s architectural style. John Wood the younger completed the first circular street – The Royal Crescent. Development then went on apace
Jane Austen and her elder sister would have spent time as young women with their uncle and aunt in Bath. Her aunt was described as a lady who ‘ looks about with great success for inconvenience and evil’
In Spring 1799 Jane went to Bath with her brother who was taking the waters. She wrote very animatedly about shopping and also attending a concert in Sydney Gardens which are the only Pleasure Gardens that remain to this day.
1805 – drawing of Sydney Gardens by Jean-Claude Nattes
When her father retired in 1800 they moved to Bath.
J.C. Nattes – The Pump Rooms
After her father’s death the family moved to Hampshire and here her career as a novelist really took off. In 1817 she died.
Cassandra’s Painting of Jane Austen 1810