August 29, 2013

Time Travel: Bath England

Another new series I am introducing this week I am calling Time Travel, I had the great fortune to study abroad in 2012 and I would love to retroactively share some of the amazing places I visited with all of you!

The first place we will travel to is the ever lovely Bath England! I studied abroad in London for five months and managed to visit Bath twice in that time, once with my classmates and then again for the day with my mom when she came over to visit me. Both times the city was just as enchanting!

Declared a World Heritage Site (the whole city!) in 1987, the city was granted city status by queen Elizabeth I in 1590! This place is full of history, as most of Europe is but in Bath so much of the 18th century elegance is preserved. With colonnades of Georgian houses including the famous Royal Cresent as well as the preserved assembly rooms visited by Jane Austen herself the place is brimming with history!

Built between 1767 and 1774 the Royal Crescent houses are grade 1 listed buildings and excellent examples of Georgian architecture. House #1 is a historic house museum (where unfortunately photos are not allowed!) and I highly recommend visiting as the rooms and furnishings are done exactly as they would have been in the 18th century. The docents there were very kind and knowledgeable and seemed glad to meet a young person interested in history like me!

Assembly rooms and fashion museum!
Jane Austen and Charles Dickens both visited these assembly rooms!

anyone recognize this balcony from the film The Duchess? :)
What a treat to stand in the exact spaces where Jane Austen walked (and danced!) and gathered inspiration! Sadly the rooms required extensive restoration after bombings in WWII but are returned to their 18th century elegance today. The rooms have been used in several films set in the Georgian and Regency periods and I just found out you can rent them for your wedding! Imagine having your wedding reception in the same room where so many from history have danced the night away!

Bath Abbey is also quite beautiful, the ceiling is like lace! The last view above is taken from the Roman Baths. The Roman Baths are certainly fascinating and are really beautiful. I thought the museum was very well done and though much of the site is a confusing muddle of original Roman construction and 18th and 19th century reconstructions and additions the overall effect is very interesting and cool to walk around.

The nearby Grand Pump room was opened by the Duchess of York in 1795 and was where one went to 'take the waters' at the time. Thought then to be a bit of a cure-all, the elite came to Bath seeking restoration of health from the hot spring waters. Jane Austen wrote in Northanger Abbey that the pump room was where one went to see and be seen when visiting Bath. I highly recommend afternoon tea in the Grand Pump Room when you visit. Though pricey, you get to experience live music from the 3 piece orchestra and a stack of scones and cream along with feeling like you have stepped back in time. The only thing missing is that everyone is still in modern clothing, if only that could be fixed!

Overall I really enjoyed visiting Bath! When I first went with my classmates for the weekend we had an excellent itinerary, we traveled by coach from London to Bath and stopped at Stonehenge and a village called Lacock (which was adorably charming despite that name) on the way to Bath. We toured the sights a bit that night and then our guide took us to a gorgeous and tasty Indian restaurant. Us college kids checked out the pubs and bars that night and found a great place to hang out called The West Gate which had a nice cocktail menu and friendly locals to chat with. I would love to visit again as I never got to visit the Jane Austen Centre, the Victoria Art Gallery or the Theatre Royal. I highly recommend making Bath a stop on your trip if heading to England in the future if you are at all interested in history or Jane Austen! I dream of one day visiting during the Jane Austen Festival which sounds like a fabulous time!

Tomorrow I'll talk about my visit to the Bath Fashion Museum and why I liked and indeed didn't like certain aspects of the museum!

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