For all that she didn’t live here long, Jane Austen is arguably Bath’s most famous resident in history. Bath society is vividly and humourously depicted in several of her novels, and now there are all sorts of ways to follow in Miss Austen’s footsteps and see Bath as she did.
Jane Austen’s Bath at the Victoria Art Gallery A collection of watercolours and prints of Bath as it was during Jane Austen’s brief residency, used to illuminate the settings and places where her beloved characters from Northanger Abbey and Persuasion met, danced, promenaded, flirted and fell in love. Attend on any Thursday evening in August and you can experience the added delight of the Bath Minuet Dancers or the Jane Austen Dancers performing in the gallery from 5-7pm. You can even learn a few steps and join in! There are also lunchtime tours of the exhibition every Thursday from 12.30-1.10pm, if you want to make the most of the exhibit in a limited time.
Other events in conjuction with the Jane Austen’s Bath exhibition include a series of Jane Austen themed lunchtime talks at the Guildhall, on Wednesdays 9th, 16th and 23rd September from 1.10-1.45pm; these talks are free to attend and no booking is required. And if you want to literally walk in Miss Austen’s footsteps, don’t miss the Mayor’s Guides’ free Jane Austen themed walking tours. Each tour starts at 11am from the Abbey churchyard and ends at the Victoria Art Gallery, and tours will take place on Tuesday 4th, Friday 14th and Sunday 23rd of August, and Friday 11th, Thursday 27th and Sunday 30th September. Visit the Victoria Art Gallery website for more information.
Once you’ve taken a turn around the dancefloor and a genteel promenade, make your way home to No.1, The Royal Crescent, and take an Atmospheric Evening Tour of the historic rooms of this beautiful Georgian townhouse. See how Miss Austen and company slept, dined and entertained as the evening draws in, with two tours every Thursday in August, at 6pm and 6.30pm – and don’t forget to have a look around ‘below stairs’ and see where all the hard work happened, before you leave! Tickets are limited but can be purchased on the door.
If you’re more interested in what the elegant Geargain lady wore than where she wore it, you may prefer to spend your Thursday evening at the Fashion Museum, which will be open until 7pm (last entry 6pm) every Thursday in August. You can even book a Backstage Tour of the museum’s stored collection, starting at 5.45pm for up to four people on the same Thursdays in August – but be warned, there are a lot of stairs to climb!
And finally, for those who still wank to dance the night away but would rather stay in the present, the sixth annual Bath Folk Festival takes place on the 8th-16th August, with a rich and engaging programme including a ‘new shoots’ competition, five-day summer school and lots of the informal sessions which festival organisers believe are ‘the lifeblood of folk music’. With artists from around the world performing in various city venues, it’s sure to get your toes tapping!