Jane Austen’s Bath: 13 Essential Places to See
Originally published on Sunday, July 17, 2022
Jane Austen is almost synonymous with Bath, England. It’s ironic considering that she didn’t even like the city. In once instance, she wrote to her sister Cassandra, “It will be two years tomorrow since we left Bath for Clifton, with what happy feelings of escape.” But it doesn’t matter that places like Chawton and Steventon are places she loved more dearly. Having lived in Bath for several years and using it as a backdrop, and even a secondary character, for many of her novels, Jane Austen’s most associated city is Bath. Fans flock here every year and it can even be considered the modern hub of Jane Austen activity.
The only authenticated portrait of Jane Austen
I was one of those fans. Unlike Jane, I found myself very much in love with the beautiful city of Bath. I followed in Jane’s footsteps – something easy to do in such a well preserved city – and went to all the Austen-related sites I could manage in a day trip. Here’s a list of marvelous Jane Austen-related places to see in Bath.
Jane Austen in Bath
Jane Austen was born in Steventon in 1775 and didn’t move to Bath until she was 25 years old, in 1800. She’d stayed at 1 The Paragon with Leigh Perrots and at 13 Queen Square in 1799, while the family was looking for a residence. In 1800, the family moved into a home at 4 Sydney Place, which is their most notable residence in Bath. She lived there for a few years before moving to 3 Green Park East (no longer standing) until her father died in 1805. The family relocated to 25 Gay Street from 1805-1806, until her brother Edward Austen Knight gave them the home at Chawton, where they lived until Jane’s untimely death in 1817.
4 Sydney Place, Jane Austen’s primary residence in Bath.
13 Queen Square.
Did you know you can actually stay at 1 The Paragon? It’s now an apartment that you can rent for your stay! Click here to see the details on Booking.
Places to See where Jane Austen Stayed/Lived:
- 1 The Paragon
- 13 Queen Square
- 4 Sydney Place
- Green Park (East buildings no longer there but West buildings still stand)
- 25 Gay Street
Two of Jane Austen’s six novels take place primarily in bath: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. The former was written shortly before she moved to Bath and the latter 10 years after she moved to Chawton. Many film adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels are filmed in Bath, most particularly the 1995 version of Persuasion. It’s cool to watch the movie after visiting Bath because all the locations are very familiar then!
Other Places to See in Jane Austen’s Bath
Of course, the most notable place to see in Bath for Jane Austen fans is the Jane Austen Centre. Alright. I’m going against the grain on this one but I think it’s skippable. It cost about £15 to get in and the center is basically just some information on things to see in Bath that are Jane Austen-related. You can get that information for free on the internet (like in this post, for example). There’s a place to dress up in Regency-era clothing and to write with quill and ink but it was not really worth the time or money since there’s nothing particularly new or special in the center. They also push the idea that Jane Austen loved Bath which, all evidence suggests, is not true. I hate giving bad reviews but I can’t recommend this place in good faith unless it were free!
However they do have a gift shop and a tea room if you’d like to stop by and have a visit. Also be sure to take your picture with the Jane Austen model outside. (Unfortunately this is something I forgot to do!)
The center does, however, host the city’s Jane Austen Festival and a separate Regency Summer Ball, which look really fun if your trip dates coincide.
Places Jane would’ve visited during her residence in Bath include the Assembly Rooms. Jane would’ve gone here for balls and the rooms are free to visit! Beneath them is the Fashion Museum, which isn’t particularly Jane Austen themed (though they do have some Regency-era clothing). However I found the museum quite fascinating.
Another place to visit (and I still need to visit) is the Pump Room, where people including Jane Austen have “taken the waters” for centuries. Afternoon tea is a must in England and it’s quite well priced. I’ve put it on my list for my next visit to Bath.
You should also stop by St. Swithin’s Church because it’s where Jane Austen’s father, George, is buried. You can see his grave just along the fence if the graveyard is closed off. Her parents were also married in the church but it was rebuilt sometime after their marriage.
As you’ll see during your visit, Bath is an extremely well-preserved Georgian town. I imagine it looks incredibly similar to how it did when Jane lived there, and that’s very exciting. She probably knew certain streets like like Milsom and Cheap quite well, but it’s believable she would’ve had a good grasp of the whole city. Bath has highlights she definitely would’ve been familiar with: of course, the Abbey is an incredible structure in the heart of the city. There’s also the Royal Crescent as well as the Bath Circus and the Pulteney Bridge, which is a remarkable structure.
One place she frequented was Sydney Gardens, which is directly across the street from her home at 4 Sydney Place. She would’ve taken several walks here.
Places to See that Jane Austen Knew:
- The Assembly Rooms
- The Pump Room
- St. Swithin’s Church
- Bath Abbey
- Royal Crescent
- Bath Circus
- Pulteney Bridge
- Sydney Gardens
I can’t recommend a trip to Bath enough. It’s a beautiful place (at least I think so) and whether or not she liked it, Jane Austen lived and made connections in this city and it became a big part of her life. It’s also an incredibly well preserved city of her time. I hope all Jane Austen fans get to visit Bath at least once because it truly is remarkable.
Tags: bath, england, europe, united kingdom