My usual parking spots in Henrietta Gardens were all taken, so instead I found myself in Sydney Road opposite the Bath Spa Hotel. From there it's a pleasant walk down the hill through Sydney Gardens (which first opened in 1795), where I found the above beds still managing to look cheerful in the pouring rain.
At the bottom of Sydney Gardens stands our afternoon's rendezvous, the impressive Holburne Museum, recently reopened after an extensive (and controversial) refurbishment. The museum first opened its doors around 100 years ago, though before that it was an elegant hotel. It now houses the Holburne collection, a vast repository of art, fine furniture, porcelain and silverware collected in the late 18th and 19th centuries and left to the citizens of Bath after Holburne's death.
The refurbishment means that much more of the collection can now be shown in state of the art galleries as well as in the old building and there are some inventive touches in the way these are displayed. One new feature are the hand held listening sets at various points around the museum with a menu of options to listen to.
One option was a description of Sydney Gardens from the early 1800s, when Bath Spa was an extremely popular destination for the wealthy to 'take the waters'. It turns out that they were extremely popular, and said to rival Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens (called Spring Gardens today) in London for their quality and variety of entertainment. Crowds of 4,000 people or more would pay to see what was on offer.
Another option was to listen to an extract from a letter written by Jane Austen in which she enthusiastically described her walk through Sydney Gardens from where she was living in Sydney Place. So I was following in Jane Austen's footsteps yesterday and I'm sure she would have often gazed on the above view down Great Pulteney Street towards the city centre. Standing at the museum's doorway and taking in that view, I can imagine elegant ladies of those times parading in all their finery.
Do you have a tale about some public planting you've seen recently? Then do blog about it and add your link to my Out on the Streets meme :)
NB Coincidentally, the Jane Austen Festival is currently taking place in Bath until 24th September. Also, entry to the Holburne Museum is free at the moment, but D believes charges are imminent. So it's worth visiting ASAP!