Jane Austen Walking Tour (Self Guided), Bath

Jane Austen, 1775-1817, was a renowned British author. Her groundbreaking novels offer a witty and humorous look at Regency-era life. Austen's six novels have since inspired many popular TV adaptations and films.

Jane Austen lived in Bath from 1801 to 1806. Two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were set in this beautiful Georgian city. While interiors have certainly been modernized since Austen's time, most exteriors and streets have been exquisitely preserved. You can see the residences Jane lived in, visit the Pump Rooms where her characters had tea, and visit the assembly rooms where Jane Austen danced the night away.

Don't miss the Jane Austen Center. You'll be intrigued by the life-sized wax statue of Jane Austen.

Fans will want to inspect the homes Jane Austen lived in. Admire Queen Square, where Austen stayed in 1799. She also stayed at her aunt's home in the Paragon. Jane and her characters loved shopping for the latest trends on Milsom Street, and you will too. Walk Great Pulteney Street to visit Jane's home on Sydney Place. Sydney Gardens provided an essential respite to Jane, and you, too, will feel rested and restored as you walk these beautiful gardens.

Follow Jane Austen's footsteps, dance along with Catherine Morland, and stroll Milsom Street with Anne Elliot in this self-guided walking tour.
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Jane Austen Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Jane Austen Walking Tour
Guide Location: England » Bath (See other walking tours in Bath)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: rose
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Jane Austen Centre
  • Queen Square
  • Bath Assembly Rooms
  • Paragon
  • Milsom Street
  • Grand Pump Room
  • Great Pulteney Street
  • Jane Austen’s Home
  • Sydney Gardens
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Jane Austen Centre

1) Jane Austen Centre (must see)

Nothing typifies Regency life in Bath so much as a classic Jane Austen novel. The world-renown author lived in Bath from 1801 to 1806. Two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were set here. So it's no surprise that in Bath you will find the Jane Austen Centre. Nestled in a Georgian house near the imposing Bath Abbey, The Circus, and the Roman Baths, this museum aims to share the wonders of Austen's Georgian-era Bath with the world.

The Centre has actors in Regency costume to create an immersive experience. There is a carefully crafted, waxwork statue of Jane. The waxwork often surprises visitors as it stands at 5'8", quite tall for a Georgian lady. Forensic artists spent over three years creating the sculpture. There is only one likeness of Jane Austen; a portrait drawn by her sister, Cassandra. However, other family members criticized the portrait and felt it did not capture the true Jane Austen. See for yourself whether or not the sculpture matches your expectations. You'll also find a gift shop and a tea room operated by the Centre.

Why You Should Visit

Ardent Jane Austen fans will need no encouragement to stop at the Jane Austen Centre. But the Centre is designed as an immersive experience for the whole family, with guides in period costumes add to the charm. Learn about Bath's history, especially about Regency-era life and customs.

The building itself, part of a block on Gay Street, is an English Heritage Grade II listed building.

Tips

The Centre organizes Bath's Jane Austen Festival every year in September. The ten-day celebration features over 80 events, including a summer ball, a costumed promenade, and a masquerade ball.

Do not miss the Centre's Regency Tea Room, which has been awarded the Tea Guild's Award of Excellence. If you've visited the Centre, you get 10 percent off at the Tea Room.
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Queen Square

2) Queen Square

In 1799, the Austen family visited Bath so that Jane's brother, Edward, could "take the cure" at the healing baths. During this visit, the Austens stayed at No. 13 Queen Square. Jane wrote to her sister Cassandra that they were "exceedingly pleased with the house; the rooms are quite as large as we expected."

However, in Persausion, Louisa Musgrove said, "I hope we shall be in Bath in the winter; but remember, papa, if we do go, we must be in a good situation: none of your Queen Squares for us!" This quote shows that Queen Square was fashionable and new in the 1730s. But by the time Persausion was published in 1817, Queen Square was not up to the latest and most fashionable standards.

John Wood, the Elder, developed Queen Square. It was named for Queen Caroline and intended to appear like a palace with wings. He designed the facade in Palladian style. Queen Square was his first speculative build in Bath. Wood leased the land, designed the frontage, divided the ground, and then sub-let to other builders. These builders would then build individual homes behind the facades.

The square's center obelisk was erected in 1738 by Beau Nash and is dedicated to Frederick, Prince of Wales. Queen Square quickly became popular, and its success allowed John Wood, the Elder, to continue his rebuilding of Bath.
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Bath Assembly Rooms

3) Bath Assembly Rooms

There are two sets of Assembly Rooms: the Lower Rooms and the Upper Rooms. The Lower Rooms were built in 1708 and are located in the older part of the city. The Upper Rooms were built in a more fashionable part of town, near The Circus and the Royal Crescent, hence the "upper" description. The lower rooms burned in 1820 and were not rebuilt.

Today, you can still visit the Upper Rooms and glory in their beauty. Don't miss the original Wayfarers crystal chandeliers. The Fashion Museum is also located in the Assembly Rooms and is well worth a visit. Be sure to admire all the Regency era dresses.

The Assembly Rooms were another center of Regency life in Jane Austen's time. Jane Austen loved dancing, and she spent time in the Assembly Rooms attending evening balls - dancing, watching, and gossiping.

In Persausion, Anne Elliot hopes to visit the Assembly Rooms and meet Captain Wentworth. But her father felt that the Assembly Rooms were not fashionable enough for the Elliots. Later on, however, the Elliots did accept an invitation to a concert in the Upper Rooms, and the meeting did take place.

In Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland often visits both the Upper Rooms and the Lower Rooms and dances the nights away in crowded rooms. Catherine Morland met Henry Tilney in the Lower Rooms, and Henry Tilney found the Master of Ceremonies to introduce them. Isabella Thorpe was affronted when James Morland asks for more dances without changing partners. These vignettes give insight into the different, more restrictive social norms of Regency England.
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Paragon

4) Paragon

The Paragon refers to the entire street of Georgian townhouses that were designed by Thomas Warr Attwood. The street itself is either Roman or medieval. This area was a Roman residential area in the first, second, and third centuries.

Jane Austen stayed at No. 1 The Paragon twice; it was her aunt's home. The first time was for a visit, and the second time she used the home as a base for finding her own residence. You can rent The Paragon as your accommodation as you trace Jane Austen's footsteps, and the footsteps and dance steps of her characters.
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Milsom Street

5) Milsom Street

Thomas Lightholder built Milsom Street in 1762. Designed initially as houses, they were converted into shops. Milsom Street was the most popular shopping street in Bath during Jane Austen's time. Austen was sure to have spent many hours strolling Milsom Street and admiring bonnets, ribbons, and muslins. She wrote letters to her sister Cassandra detailing the latest fashions seen along Milsom Street.

Her characters not only shopped and strolled but experienced chance meetings on Milsom Street. In Northanger Abbey, Isabella Thorpe remarked to Catherine Morland, "I just saw the prettiest hat in a shop window in Milsom Street". Northanger Abbey's General Tilney had lodgings on Milsom Street.

In Persuasion, Anne Elliot comes across Admiral Croft on Milsom Street. He is in such deep contemplation of a painting in a shop window that it takes Anne several attempts to catch his notice. The Admiral laughs and mentions that he can never go past this shop without stopping. Anne Elliot later visits Mollands, a trendy pastry and confectionary shop at that time. It was here that Anne Elliot had a surprise meeting with Captain Wentworth.

Not much has changed on Milsom street since Jane Auten's time. Shops still sell the latest fashions, and peckish shoppers are sure to find a sweet treat to enjoy. Milsom Street has been voted "Britain's Best Fashion Street".
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Grand Pump Room

6) Grand Pump Room

The Grand Pump Room has been an intricate part of the Bath social scene since it opened. The current building opened in 1795, built upon an early building's foundations from the early 1700s. Famous visitors have included Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

The Grand Pump Room is currently the entrance to the Roman Baths and features the Grand Pump Room Restaurant. It's a great place to take the waters and to dine in the opulent surroundings one would expect for such an affair.

The Grand Pump Room was a prime setting in some of Austen's novels. In Northanger Abbey, it is here that Catherine Morland makes her first forays into Bath society. In one passage of the novel, Catherine Morland found the crowd in the Pump Room insupportable. In another, she eagerly checked for Henry Tilney's name in the visitor's book and was disappointed not to find it. Visitors would sign in, and this book was a useful tool to track the comings and goings of acquaintances. In Persuasion, Admiral Croft comes to Bath to take the waters as a cure for his gout.
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Great Pulteney Street

7) Great Pulteney Street

At 1,000 ft long and 100 ft wide, the Great Pulteney Street is the most impressive in Bath. The houses along the street were commissioned by Sir William Pulteney and designed by Thomas Baldwin. Mr. Baldwin designed the exterior facade to be unifying. However, the houses and hotels behind the facades are all unique.

Great Pulteney Street would have been very familiar to Jane Austen. From her residence at Sydney Place, she would have walked Great Pulteney Street to reach the center of town. In Northanger Abbey, Catherine Morland's aunt and uncle the Allen's had lodgings in Great Pulteney Street, and it was here that Catherine stayed during her time in Bath. The Allen's house was considered enormous and very fashionable.

Don't miss Laura Place, connected to Great Pulteney Street. In Persuasion, the Elliot's wealthy cousins, the Dowager Viscountess Dalrymple and the Honourable Miss Carteret, resided at the very prestigious and fashionable Laura Place.
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Jane Austen’s Home

8) Jane Austen’s Home

Jane Austen resided at No. 4 Sydney Place in the early 1800s. Here, you will find a commemorative plaque "Here lived Jane Austen, 1801-1805". Austen worked on the unfinished novel "The Watsons" inside this home. She abandoned the novel after her father's death in 1805.

Jane loved walking through Sydney Gardens and therefore was relieved to live in a location with easy access. In 1801, Sydney Place, located on the east side of Pulteney Bridge, was a newly built terrace house. Its location was quiet but offered easy access to Bath's social and shopping scene over Pulteney Bridge.

During her time in Bath, Jane Austen also had residences at other locations. The Austen family first rented a house on Gay Street, a few doors down from the Jane Austen Centre. Next, they lived at Sydney Place. This is considered to be Jane Austen's home in Bath because the family stayed here for the most prolonged duration. In 1805, the lease on Sydney Place ran out, and the family moved to Green Park Building East, where Jane Austen's father died. Next, they moved to No. 25 Gay Street. Finally, they moved to Trim Street, a more affordable address.
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Sydney Gardens

9) Sydney Gardens

Sydney Gardens, formerly "the Pleasure Gardens", were a vital center of the Georgian social scene. There Gardens were a popular spot to see and be seen. The Gardens feature beautiful flowerbeds, a replica of the Temple of Minerva, and a walking path to the Kennet and Avon Canal.

Jane Austen, who was used to the countryside, felt overwhelmed by city life and needed a natural space to retreat to. Here, she could have refreshed her spirit, enjoyed the flower gardens, attended breakfasts, picnics, and outdoor concerts. In a letter, Jane wrote that the fireworks in Sydney Gardens "were really beautiful and surpassing my expectation; the illuminations too were very pretty…"

Today, the Gardens remain much as they were in Jane Austen's time, a lovely respite from the busy city.

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