Imagine you had travelled around the Hampshire countryside tracking Jane Austen. Imagine you had immersed yourself in her for days.... what she would have seen, and eaten and worn.... who she would have known.... where she would have travelled, whether by foot or carriage. Now, imagine you follow her footsteps to Bath and come to the very house where she lived for the first three years of her stay here.
Imagine you park and lug out your overstuffed suitcase, wheeling it along the bumpy pavement, each stone jarring your hand as it jumps over it. Imagine.... the door to her house there is open, and a voice welcomes you inside.
"Hello Isil. It is so nice to finally meet you."
Imagine this very kind woman leads you to your apartment, one of the four that they have available in Jane Austen's old home, and you head to the window. You stare out at the lovely house, now a museum, across the street, and think, this would have been what Jane saw every day... just like this (sans the many cars that drive by on the well travelled road. Presumably for her it would have been the sound of horses hooves.)
In total Jane Austen spent a little over 5 years living in Bath (between 1801 and 1806). Prior to that she had visited on occasion with her parents. And, in her own way, she would have found Bath much as we have found it on our visit here, busy, engaging, expensive, and noisy. According to all accounts I've read, Jane was shocked and overwhelmed when her parents decided to uproot and retire here from Steventon. While she had written three of her books by this point, in Bath Jane was either unable, or unwilling, to do more. She attempted one new project and then gave it up.
So to all appearances this was an unproductive time for her. And yet as I can attest, while new places, new journeys may not always be comfortable, they help us grow and mature and lead us to parts of ourselves we had perhaps not known before. This was certainly the case with Jane who, after leaving Bath and eventually settling at Chawton (after a brief stay in Southhampton,) wrote her next three novels- Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion. Most students of Jane Austen agree that these, of all of her novels, show a new level of depth compared to her earlier works.
So, now back to your trip to Bath... imagine that you too plan to walk in Jane's footsteps. Until a year ago this property would not have been available to you as a place to stay. Now I would say it is a must. Our apartment on the 1st floor (which in the U.S. would be the 2nd floor,) has a lovely large bedroom looking out over the back garden. There is a main living area, separated from the bedroom by huge double doors, and equipped with an antique writing desk where my daughter has written her own blog account. There is a very well stocked kitchen, even set up with coffee and tea, with milk and sugar for us. And off to the side is the lovely modern bathroom, with two showerheads in the shower. All in all, it is a perfect place to spend time in Bath, whether you are here for Jane or not.
If you would like to arrange your own stay, and I definitely recommend you do, you can contact Bath Boutique Stays who I found to be warm, accommodating, and extremely helpful. The details are below. A couple of notes: The road nosie can be rather loud, with occasional sirens passing by, but quiets considerably at night and is lessened byt he huge doors for the bedroom. There is, as we have found in all places we have stayed thus far, NO air conditioning. And the furnishings are modern, with some odd antique bits thrown in so it has not been set up to look like Jane's house would have, but rather is for comfortable modern living. As well, you should know this is an honest review and I was provided no compensation for providing it.
Like Jane, I could not live in Bath for any length of time. On the other hand, staying for a brief time in her home will have been the highlight of my journey and will, perhaps, give me some additional insight to make my own writing flourish.
Bath Boutique Stays
(011) 07960 392068 or 07809 746338
2 night minimum, at the time we stayed it was 159 pounds per day, midweek (higher on weekends of course:>)
Below are photos of our apartment, called Cassandra's first floor apartment. I also got photos of the ground floor apartment, Emma's, which has a lovely garden attached. But, I'm off to see more of Bath, so I'll add those in the near future. Ta!