I am a dreamer and sometimes think I was meant to be from a different time. I am an avid Jane Austen novel reader and have watched the movie adaptations more times than I should admit. From those books, I learned of the city of Bath in England. It was a place for polite society and casual strolling while enjoying “the waters” from the thermal springs. I knew it was a place I would love, and the first time I visited, I knew I would return.
Arriving by train, you enjoy the green rolling hills. Approaching the city, you see an array of limestone buildings peeking out from the countryside. The train station is located conveniently on the edge of town, so wear your comfortable walking shoes and start your leisurely stroll.
The town’s name is based on the Roman Baths located here. For centuries, locals and visitors would come to the Bathhouse for its healing properties.
The Roman Baths are magnificently preserved. You can take a tour to learn about the building and the thermal waters. The Roman Bath site comprises a Roman temple, bath pools, saunas, and Roman artifacts. A thermal hot spring provides flowing hot water to the site.
To keep up to date and plan your visit, go to the website for opening hours and tour information.
Taking the Waters
England’s high society would visit Bath and “take the waters” for medicinal purposes and ailments such as aches and pains. While taking the waters, it became a gathering place to learn the latest gossip, to be seen, and to take one’s place among the elite.
Visitors today can take the waters and visit the pump rooms. The water has an aftertaste but is nice and clear if you feel inclined to try it yourself.
The pump room is a beautiful setting with arched windows overlooking the city and opulent ceilings. It is easy to imagine the socialites taking a turn around the room and taking the waters.
Located just down the street from the Roman Bath sites, the Abbey was founded in the 7th-century with rebuilding efforts in the 1860s, giving it its present beauty. The vaulted ceilings and stained glass within the Abbey will leave you mesmerized, as the building is a wonderful example of perpendicular architecture. Part of the Church of England, the Abbey still holds services today.
At Christmas time, they welcome visitors for a carol sing-along and short service. The Abbey courtyard provides a great view of the intricate façade. On a bright sunny day, finding a park bench and enjoying the scenery is heavenly.
To discover the timeline of the church history and visiting hours, check out this website.
The Royal Crescent
The Royal Crescent is an architectural beauty with many townhouses in a semi-circle overlooking a beautiful green space. If the weather is nice, sit down in the Royal Crescent park and enjoy a picnic. One of the townhomes has been transformed into a museum complete with Georgian furnishings. You can step back in time and understand what life would look like.
The museum plans to open an “immersive” experience with costumed staff acting as family and servants, providing a real-life view of the Bath society season. Bath is a beautiful city. I love sites that can transport you to its original beauty and bygone era.
Go to No. 1 Royal Crescent for opening hours and visitor experiences.
Spanning the River Avon in Bath, the Pulteney bridge is a stunning architectural feat built-in 1774. Graceful arches face the river, and you will find a selection of shops lining both sides. The bridge architecture is rare and the only one found in England.
Have your camera ready, the bridge is picturesque and provides a great backdrop for photography. Follow the bridge, and you will find yourself in the Sydney Gardens, another charming spot to enjoy.
Jane Austen Centre
Although Bath was not full of pleasant memories for Jane Austen, it is prominent in her novels. My favorite novel is Persuasion, and I cannot think of Bath without thinking about the book. The Jane Austen Centre does a wonderful job describing the life and times of Jane Austen in their museum and gift shop.
Featuring costumes from movies based on Austen’s books along with other artifacts, it is a great way to learn about the life and times of Jane Austen. Costumed guides are there to lead you throughout the center and answer any questions you might have.
You’ll have the opportunity to try on a regency era gown and write with a quill pen, just as Jane would have done. The Centre also has a wax figure likeness of Jane Austen that you can take a photograph with if you choose. Save some time for the gift shop. You will find unique gifts and copies of Jane Austen’s novels for sale.
Regency Tea Room
There is a tearoom on the Jane Austen Centre’s top floor where you can order scones and tea or a full afternoon tea with savory sandwiches, scones, and pastries. Costumed staff serve you, and the menu is full of Jane Austen character references.
The tearoom is a delightful setting with fresh flowers on the table. Warm scones and tea are a treat worth taking a break for. From the top floor windows, you can look out at the city and feel like you are transported to a different time. Visit the website for opening hours.
Jane Austen Festival
If the Jane Austen Centre has piqued your interest, return to Bath in September for the annual Jane Austen Festival. The festival offers a wide selection of events, including a regency ball and parade.
For the parade, participants dressed in regency era costume parade through town, and with the stunning Bath cityscape, you feel like you have been transported back in time.
Additional Jane Austen-themed events include special walking tours about the life and times of Jane Austen and some theatre productions.
Find out about the festival events and dates here. The town is busy during the festival, so book lodging early. It will be fun to spend more than one day in Bath to ensure plenty of time to visit the sites and take in the extra festivities.
Bath Fashion Museum
The Bath Fashion Museum is in the historic Assembly Rooms. The Assembly Rooms were where locals held a gathering for dancing, playing cards, or just to socialize. The ballroom is from the 18th-century and would hold a crowd of 800—1200. The room has high ceilings to provide adequate ventilation, very necessary for such a crowd of dancers.
Visiting the Assembly Rooms is free but do not pass by the Fashion Museum. It holds a collection of historical and modern fashions showing the most popular fashions by decade. Walkthrough “a history of 100 fashion objections,” and you will marvel at the changes from the 1600s to the current day. From ballgowns to daytime wear, the collection is fascinating.
Bath Christmas Market
With Christmas lights hanging across the narrow streets and store windows with decorative fronts, Christmas time in Bath is beautiful. Chalets are set up in the Bath Abbey Courtyard. Vendors from around the world sell their wares, including ornaments and holiday decorations.
Find hot chocolate or spiced cider and enjoy shopping from local businesses. To get out of the cold for a bit, head into a choral song performance at the Bath Abbey. You will be in the festive spirit in no time.historicseasideUnited Kingdom