Thursday, October 15, 2009

Trip to England - Part 9

Ahh!! Where does the time go?!? I'm so sorry that I've kept my faithful readers waiting! Rest assured, I'm still alive, AND I plan to finish up these posts by the end of the week. :-)

Saturday morning we woke up to a beautifully sunny day- perfect for the Promenade that starts off the Jane Austen festivities! Bath is a city with a history going back to at least 43 AD, when the Romans built baths around the natural hot springs. In Georgian times, it became a popular spa resort, as many came to "take the waters" to cure their ailments. Because of its immense popularity at that time, many buildings were built then that still survive today, making it feel very much like a walk back into time. Jane Austen also lived in Bath from 1801-1806, and set two of her books there.

After a delicious breakfast, we explored the city a bit. Our B&B was on Brock St., in between the Royal Crescent and the Circus.

Aerial view of the area, our B&B marked is marked with the arrow.

The Royal Crescent, it was built in 1774 by John Wood the Younger and is comprised of 30 houses.

Brock St. Very fashionable lodgings, indeed! ;-)

Two sides of the Circus (no, there are no animals here!), finished in 1768; designed by John Wood the Elder and finished by JW the Younger.

When we arrived at the Pump Room entrance to wait for the beginning of the Promenade, we met up with a few ladies from our group and soon found some online friends from the sewing forum that we're all on. Joanna and her husband Scott are from England, but Aurora traveled from Sweden for the JA festival. Oh to be so close! :-)

Me and Aurora

Elizabeth, me, Scott, and Joanna. Hmmm, after seeing all the men dressed up at the festival, I really think Dad needs a regency outfit now... ;-)

Starting off with the Pump Room behind us

Up one of Bath's many charming streets

As we and 400 other costumed people started off on our walk through Bath's streets, I was taken aback by the amount of people who came just to watch us all! The streets were LINED in people taking pictures, videos, and people from the news interviewing the promenaders!! If it weren't for the absence of a red carpet, I would have though we were all famous movie stars by the amount of attention we all drew! Despite this, we found that (excepting Saturday morning and afternoon) most of the residents of Bath had no idea there was even a Jane Austen Festival going on! On our way to the hotel the first night, we ran into a woman who had lived in Bath for 25 years and had only noticed that "something went on every year"! At 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, we were shopping in Bath and had a woman come up to us to ask "why we were dressed like that". When we explained, she said, "Oh, is that what was on TV this afternoon?"! Well, if I lived in Bath, you can be sure that I would appreciate all the history in the city! :-)

Gathering in the Assembly Rooms

The gorgeous ceiling!

Our first destination on the Promenade was the Assembly Rooms where we were gathering to be counted for our attempt to break the world record of "Most People in Regency Costume at One Time". Who knew there even was a record to break!! ;-) At any rate, at 409 participants, we had almost twice as many as the previous record! After that, we all walked to the Crescent to get a picture taken of everyone. But not just any old picture, a gigapan picture. Which is pretty much many small pictures put together (look closely and see if you can spot the giveaway! also keep your eyes open for the phantom head and the girl with 4 arms!!). In reality the whole thing meant that if you were in the center (which we were), then the sun will be directly in your eyes (which it was), which will blind you and make it difficult to smile directly at the camera if you didn't bring a parasol (which none of us did). Of course, if you were silly enough to not know exactly what was going on, (we didn't. Actually, on second thought, I really don't think many people did!) you would be smiling into the sun until your eyes watered while the camera took pictures of the first people in line! (we also did this...) Consequently, this will mean that they are NO WHERE close to getting your picture (which they weren't). And, if you're wearing a long-sleeved coat (which 3 of us were), you'll get very hot in the sun while you're waiting your turn. If you're not wearing a coat, you'll worry about getting sunburnt (which the rest of us did). In the end, you will most likely decide after waiting for well over half an hour that this is no longer worth the time you have to spend in Bath (which we did decide). Of course, leaving will mean that you don't make it in the picture, but there are more important things than fame. Bottled water being one of them. :-) I am slightly disappointed that it didn't work out (for us, anyway), but after looking at the picture, I think I can safely say that the picture of me would most likely have been less than flattering. One way of saving my pride, I guess!!

In Queen's Square, there were a few booths set up with historical clothing/reenactment wares for sale, along with shady places to sit. :-) Our tour group had plans to go to the Fashion Museum (housed under the Assembly Rooms) in the afternoon, so after resting awhile, we joined up with our group again. The Fashion Museum was nice, but very disappointing if you are hoping for a Historical Fashion Museum! Over half of the garments on display were from the 1970s on (yuck!), so it was rather lacking in the inspirational department.... The sad thing is that they have a HUGE collection, but they apparently think that we're all most interested in the more modern junk! Um, no! I'm also sorry to report that I only took REALLY BAD pictures there.... The lighting in many of the exhibits was really bad and they were all so blurry that they weren't worth posting... :-( I was unable to upload Lindsay's pictures, but Jennie had some in her post. While I was walking through the Museum, I noticed a family that looked slightly familiar, but I couldn't figure out why. And anyway, I was in England... It's not like it was very likely that I would happen to run into someone I knew! A bit later, the family came up to me and asked, "Do you happen to go to Liberty Day?"!! Imagine my surprise, Liberty Day is an annual event that one of our sister churches puts on 3 hours away from us! So that's how I recognized them! The daughters also dress historically for Liberty Day and I have always admired their dresses. :-) The Agnew's also live in IL, and were traveling in England and France for 6 weeks. They just happened to be in Bath at the Fashion Museum at the exact same time as us! Truly Providential!!

We had received vouchers for tea at the Jane Austen Centre as part of our tour, so we decided to go there next. There was a bit of a wait, but it was worth it! We very fortunately got a seat by a window, so as we enjoyed our afternoon tea, we were able to look out on Bath's lovely streets! Hmm, I think Dad and Gretel need to go too! With us to show them around, of course..... ;-)

Enjoying "Tea with Mr. Darcy" in the Jane Austen Centre. I think the Mr. Darcy at our table must have been invisible...

Our fare, tea sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and cake. Even though the tea room was full (it is their busiest day, after all!), the ambiance was still nice and we had a delightful and restful time together. Definitely some fond memories.... :-)

We had arranged with Scott, Joanna, and Aurora to meet for supper, so in the mean time, we wandered a bit through the historic streets and went down to see Pulteney Bridge.

Pulteney Bridge, which is lined with quaint shops on either side.

View from the bridge of the River Avon

And a picture of the outside!

Enjoying another delightful dinner at Sally Lunn's, this time with newfound friends! Thank you for the great time! We really enjoyed getting to know you all! :-)


  1. Was part of Persuasion filmed at the Royal Crescent? It looks really familiar.
    I love your dress! So so so so pretty!
    That's so funny that you met up with people who go to Liberty Day! Small world!

  2. It all looks like so much fun! So, what exactly was "tea with Mr. Darcy"? Was there someone portraying him there, or it was just a regency tea party? :-)

    And I agree with Tara, your dress is lovely! I love white! (especially for regency dresses)

    By the way... were your bonnets hard to make?

  3. Tara,

    Yes, the 1995 Persuasion (and I think the latest one, too) was filmed in Bath.


    "Tea with Mr. Darcy" was the name for our meal. They also had "Tea with the Austen's", "Lady Catherine's Tea", etc.

    Well, I didn't make the bonnets, so you'll have to get my mom's take on them on Saturday... :-)