Link to AustenOnly Posts on Jane Austen and Bath

THE delightful city of Bath, where fashion has long established her court, and where beauty and elegance are seen in her train, has been singularly favored both by nature and art, and is worthy of that distinguished pre-eminence which it has acquired. It lies at the northeastern extremity of Somersetshire, about 107 miles from London and twelve from Bristol.

Bath is surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills, except where they open to allow a course for the Avon, which winds slowly and majestically through the city, and being navigable from hence to Bristol, facilitates the intercourse with that busy port.

The valley, in which Bath lies, being too small to contain the numerous splendid buildings which have been erected here within the space of a century, they gratin. ally covered the side of the hill towards the north, and now crown its summit. Nothing indeed can be more picturesque than the appearance of this city, where houses rise behind houses in progressive order; while the most elevated seem to look down with a proud superiority on the no less elegant and extensive structures below. From the hills which environ it, excellent springs of water arise; and by means of pipes almost every house is supplied with that necessary of life, in she greatest perfection.

It is very probable that the warm springs here were known to the ancient Britons before the Roman invasion; for there are many and unquestionable evidences of that illustrious people having a station at this place, and Baths either for health or pleasure. The various names by which this city has been called, all designate the principal cause ofitscelebrity. The Britons named it Caer Badon or the city of the Bath, and Caer yn entaint twymyn, or the city of the Hot Bath. The Romans gave it the appropriate appellations of Thermae Sudatae; Aqua Calid, Aquae Solis, or simply Balnea, while the Saxons called it Akemannus Ceaster, which has been interpreted, the city of Valetudinarians.

It does not enter within our plan to give its early history from the first commencement of authentic records; but we must be allowed to observe, that the great number of ancient coins, statues, altars, inscriptions, and other Roman antiquitics, which have been discovered at different intervals in and about Bath, prove that it has undergone various revolutions.

In the year 1753, as some cellars were digging in Stall-street, a pedest was found with an inscription which purports that ‘this religious place insolently thrown down, Caius Severius Emeritus purified and restored to the name and virtue of Augustus, in testimony of his gratitude.” Under this stone were several coins of the Emperor Carausius.

Two years after, as the Abbey-house, where the Duke of Kingston’s Baths now stand, was pulling down, in digging out the foundation, the workmen discovered several rough hewn stone coffins, with the apparently entire, but mouldering, remains of human bodies ; and several pieces of coin of the successive Saxon kings. And still lower than those Saxon graves were traced cavities which led to the remains of several Roman baths and sudatories constructed on a large and elegant plan. The spring witch supplied these baths being freed from rubbish and its channel opened, the Duke of Kingston converted it to its original purpose, on a new and elegant plan.

In digging the foundations for the new Hot Bath and its accompaniments, a considerable quantity of Roman copper and brass coins of Nero, Adrian, Trajan, Antonine, &c. were found, together with an antique jar, (now removed), charged with an abbreviated inscription which has been rendered into English. “ Sulinus, the son of Maturus, gladly pays his grateful vows to the high goddess Minerva.”

When the foundation of the New Pump-room was clearing out in 1790 on the east side of Stall-street, various Roman antiquities were discovered, consisting of a votive altar, a considerable portion of a fluted pillar, two feet eight inches in diameter, and a hand some Corinthian capital, belonging to the same. Several massy fragments, adorned with sculpture in basso relievo were also found here. One of them within a double circle of oaken boths richly wrought, represents the head of Apollo Meclicus, who was considered as the inventor of medicine, and in heathen mythology the Sun, as Minerva was the Moon.

Indeed from a variety of circumstances it appears, that Apollo and Minerva were regarded as the patrons of these springs, and that one or both of them conjointly had a magnificent temple erected to their honor on this spot. Among other fragments was a votive altar, whose inscription has not been completely decyphered; but it imports that it was erected by some person obliged by Marcus Ausidius, an officer of the sixth legion, as a grateful return to the deity who presided over the waters of Bath, for the salutary effects they had produced on his patron.

These remains lay more than twelve feet below the present surface; and about the same level, the workmen met with an ancient paved way of broad free stone, with a channel to carry off the water.

In 1793, as the laborers were employed near Sidney-place, about four feet under ground, they came to a sepulchral altar almost perfect, with an inscription to the memory of Cams Calpurnus, probably an officer of rank in Britain, who died at the age of 75.

After the retreat of the Romans, it is likely that Bath suffered a temporary eclipse; but during the Saxon times we find it was considered as a place of some note. From Richard I however, it received its first charter, with all the privileges and immunities of a free borough. This charter was repeatedly enlarged, and Queen Elizabeth out of royal favor declared it a sole city of itself, and willed the citizens to be a body politic and corporate, by the name of Mayor, Aldermen, and Citizens, of the City of Bath. This charter was granted in 1390; but it was not till 1646 that the corporation began to act according to the powers they had received, and the privileges they enjoyed. They then established the bye-laws, by which the city is still regulated; and it must be allowed that a better police is no where observed than at Bath.

From the time of Elizabeth, this city seems to have been occasionally visited by our sovereigns or some of the royal family; but, notwithstanding its present beauty and elegance, it appears that, about the year 1700, it had only one house with sashed windows, and that the dancers did not exceed ten couple.

Text, Engraving and Map : from A Guide to all the Watering and Sea-Bathing Places etc (1803) by John Feltham

Jane Austen References

George Austen and Cassandra Leigh( Jane Austen’s parents) were married at Walcot Church, Bath in 1764.

Mr and Mrs James Leigh-Perrot, Jane Austen’s uncle and aunt, rented 1 Paragon from circa 1797 and Jane Austen stayed with them at that address in that year. In 1810 the Leigh Perrots bought and began to live at 49 Great Pultney Street. Jane Austen stayed with her brother Edward Austen Knight and his family  at 13 Queen’s Square between May and June, 1799.

Jane Austen lived in Bath with her family from 1801-1806.

They first lived at 4 Sydney Place from 1801-4. Then at 3 Green Park Buildings East 1804-5.

The Reverend George Austen died at Green Park Buildings on January 1805. He was buried at Walcot Church.

Mrs Austen, Cassandra and Jane first moved from this address to 25 Gay Street, and then to a house in Trim Street where they lived till they left to tour Gloucestershire, Warwickshire and Staffordshire, visiting relatives, during the summer of 1806.

At the end of their tour they did not return to Bath but began to live at Southampton, Hampshire during September 1806.

Links to Austenonly posts about places where Jane Austen lived in Bath

The Paragon

Queens Square

Sydney Place

Green Park Buildings

Gay Street

Trim Street

Links to AustenOnly posts on Bath

St. Swithin’s Parish Church,Walcot

The Crescent

The Theatre Royal Bath (1) The Orchard Street Theatre

The Theatre Royal Bath (2) The Beaufort Square Theatre

The Sydney Gardens

A Gala at the Sydney Gardens:

(1) The Music

(2) The Fireworks

(3) The Illuminations

The Upper Rooms (1)

The White Hart Inn

The Letters

Alfred Street

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated May 5th 1805

Axford Buildings

Letter to Cassandra Austen dated 3rd January 1801

Bath Street

Letter to Cassandra 2nd June 1799

Letter to Cassandra 8th April, 1805

Brock Street

Letter to Cassandra 17th May 1799

Chapel Row

Letter to Cassandra 3rd January,1801

Charles Street

Lettter to Cassandra 3rd January 1801

Gay Street

Letter to Cassandra 3rd January 1801

Green Park Buildings

Letter to Cassandra 5th may 1801

Letter to Cassandra 26th may 1801

Hetling Pump

Letter to Casandra 2nd June 1799

Laura Place

Letter to Casandra 3rd January 1801

Letter to Cassandra 14th January 1801

Letter to Cassandra 21st january, 1801

New King Street

Letter to Cassandra 5th May 1801

Queen’s Parade

Letter to Cassandra June 1799

Queen Square

Letter to Cassandra Januray 1801

The Crescent

Letter to Cassandra June 1799

Letter to Cassandra April 1805

St James Square

Letter to Cassandra April 1805

Seymour Street

Letter to Cassandra May 1801

Letter to Cassandra May 1801

Letter to Cassandra May 1801

Sydney Gardens

Letter to Cassandra May 1799

Letter to Cassandra June 1799

Letter to Cassandra January 1801

Letter to Cassandra April 1805

Trim street

Letter to Cassandra January 1801

Upper Rooms

Letter to Cassandra May 1801

Walcot Church

Letter to Cassandra: June 1799

Letter to Cassandra: January 1805

Westgate Buildings

Letter to Cassandra January 1801

The Novels

Sense and Sensibility: Chapters 31 and 43

Pride and Prejudice: Chapter 61

Mansfield Park : Chapters 6, 20, 21, 23, 44, 45 , 47

Emma : Chapters 17, 19 ,21, 22, 23, 32, 34, 36, 43

Persuasion: Chapter 2 ( passim)

Northanger Abbey : Chapter 1 ( passim)