OOTS: In the Footsteps of Jane Austen

A last minute change to my weekend's arrangements meant instead I was able to meet up with my SUP pals D and S yesterday afternoon in Bath. A cold had kept me firmly indoors all week and it was great at last to take a tentative step outside for some fresh air.

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!


  1. I think you went to a Grand Designs Exhibition at the National Exhibition centre once? James Alexander Sinclair will be speaking there this year and tickets to the show can be won on my blog. You just have to say how many exhibitors there will be. Interested?



  2. That's some street! Some view!

    Not so struck on the circles of flowers though. They remind me of care tyres painted white and being used as flower . . . er . . . pots?

  3. Esther - I've been offered the same competition too and seeing your post and one other helped me to decide not to run it as well.

    So everyone... head on over to Esther if you fancy winning a pair of tickets to Grand Designs Live

    Lucy - later on the sun came out and we spent ages looking at that view. So many other times we're looking the other way!

  4. What a coincidence (well almost) Jane and I were talking of going to the Holburne Museum the other day. She will want to hear all about it.

  5. I'd be interested to read what the other pre-viewer makes of the prospected exhibition. Would you give me the link?


  6. Cheerful? Cheerful! Nauseous more like.

    Although I'll admit I have a dislike of bedding schemes that borders on the obsessive.

  7. Mark - there's a landscape photography exhibition starting on September 24th which looks like it'll be rather good. It runs through until the beginning of January 2012. I'll be returning for that.

    Esther - sorry I can't remember who it was. I did write up my visit 2 years ago, so you might want to have a look at that

    Dawn - in my defence I was absolutely soaked through at the time, as my arrival in Bath was timed with a massive raincloud trying to give me a proper bath! So anything which lightened the gloom I was feeling at the time was most welcome ;)


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