Jane Austen wrote six novels published during the Regency period and between 1811 and 1818. The characters are not fabulously rich, but have a comfortable homelife and are
wealthy enough to live virtually uninterrupted lives of leisure.
Their roles are
played out in the drawing room, the assembly room, the Parsonage or Rectory, the
fashionable street for promenading, or the grounds of the country house.
Her characters spend their time reading, writing letters,
walking, riding, dancing, playing cards, listening to music and enjoying the art
of conversation. Their conversation speaks of their own safe and comfortable
society. They talk about fashion and taste, about acceptable manners and
unacceptable behaviour. Above all else, their conversation concentrates on
thoughts of love and marriage. Their mothers despair for the lack of suitable
Surprisingly Regency women of this era have opinions and a knowledge
of the facts of life that were denied to later Victorian women. It would be
wrong to suggest that all people enjoyed the kind of lifestyle of Jane Austen's
characters. Possibly well over half of Europe still lived in discomfort, working
hard, living poorly, outside of fashionable clothing and often going to bed
To learn more about Jane Austen when in Bath you may enjoy a to visit the
Jane Austen Centre, see the small museum, browse the book shop and also take
tea and light refreshments at the centre.
Fashionable young ladies were the core ingredients of Jane
Austen's world. When Jane Austen wrote her novels, Bath Spa town was still
Britain's most fashionable health resort. Today it is considered a beautiful
city, but in the time of Regency England it must have seemed the finest city of
the world and an example of refined taste.
Bath town had and still has,
colonnaded crescents of immaculate proportions, squares and streets. During the
Regency Bath Spa
oozed classical grace and proportion, then and now. Right - Architecture in Bath
Earlier in 1705 Beau Nash had become Master of Ceremonies at the Assembly
Rooms in Bath. He laid down rules of etiquette relating to behaviour and
acceptable dress. By 1730 Bath was the most fashionable city in England. It held
this position until the Regency Era, by which time it was highly established as
the place to be seen.
In the name of refinement restraint was more evident than ever before.
Fashionable women shed their hoop skirts and their high wigs.
Make up usually
made of lethal ingredients was discarded. Hair powder was abandoned for fresh
clean washed cropped hairstyles. Blatant use of jewellery was soon seen as vulgar
Soon much simpler styles of dress in plain cotton fabrics resulted in a
fresher less artificial look and became quite usual. The simple clothes worn by
fashionable women and men were in perfect parallel with the classical mood of
the Regency era homes and the delightful streets Austen’s characters occupied.
Left - A part of the curved circus area.
Earlier in the late 18th century, a similar move to
an uncomplicated taste had taken place in other things including furniture,
ceramics and silver. Previously heavily decorated objects had dominated rooms.
These were called 'Rococo', a taste that sprang from the French word 'Rocaille'
which literally meant rocky or shell encrusted and which flourished between 1730
Adam’s influence meant that Rococo waned and was replaced by
more delicately balanced items, so that the house and the objects were
harmonious. The Age of Adam coincided with the early stages of industrialization
so that people like Hepplewhite, Wedgwood and Boulton were greatly influenced by
the spirit of Adam.
By the early 1800s even Adam was thought too fanciful and
Connoisseurs began to look to Greece rather than Rome for inspiration. Greek
design was thought purer and simpler than Roman sources. The Greek revival was
boosted in 1806 when Lord Elgin brought pieces of the Parthenon from Athens to
London. Suddenly the vogue was for every item in interiors to be Classically
Greek. There had to be Greek styled tables, chairs, coaches, wall hangings,
pottery and silver all following the clean simplicity of pure Greek palaces.
Most of the classical buildings erected during this time culminated in John
Nash's improvements in Central London which began in 1811. They included 'The
Royal Mile' that cut through London town in an uninterrupted sweep. The central
section of the sweep was called 'Regent Street' and this ended in a spacious
park called Regent's Park. Much of this still survives as a monument to the last
great attempt at classicism and is known as The Regency after the era lasting
The period 1800-1837 is part of the Georgian era. George III was
insane after 1811, but lived on until 1820. His son the Prince Regent,
George, acted as Regent for nine years of the King's madness, then reigned
1820-1830. Because of the influence of the Georgian Prince Regent,
this is known as The Regency Period, or the Regency fashion era.
Bath is a beautiful city and well worth a visit. It has a great architecture
and attractive half circular streets. Bath has a good selection of shops and
antique shops and you are sure to find a great restaurant.
We always like to
take lunch or afternoon tea in the atmospheric Pump Room - if you are lucky
classical music may be played on the piano or a little trio may entertain you
with music. All the buildings around the Pump room area have history. You can
buy a glass of pumped mineral spring water at the Pump room right. You will
never forget that strange volcanic smell not unlike famous French drinking
Or try the food and wine at one of the many restaurants such as The
Beaujolais. There are many many fine restaurants in Bath. There are
also various tea rooms such as the famous Sally Lunn where you can enjoy a
light as air Sally Lunn cake in the 3 restaurant rooms in this house shown
You can easily pick
up a restaurant guide on arrival and soon be spoilt for dining choice. Tourists will find ample
information available to them to enable them to enjoy many activities within
and outside of the city.
The Roman Baths
you have never visited The Roman Baths do visit this ancient site which was
at a peak of popularity in the Regency era. If you
can get hold of a BBC video of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey you will view
the wonderful Roman Baths scene in context and see Regency England in all
This photograph was taken on a visit in the early millennium and shows the
Roman Baths. At the Baths you will have the chance to see computer
enhanced depictions of the layout of the bath house as it would have
been for the Romans who visited it.
The main tourist attractions in Bath such as the Costume Museum all present you with individual audio sound
receivers. The sound receivers help you gain a greater understanding of the venue and its
contents. This is a particularly useful facility at the Costume Museum.
In addition to absorbing the feel of Bath when you have the opportunity to
visit the Costume Museum also look out for the antiques shops nearby. If you are
a serious student of costume you can, by pre arranged appointment visit the
Costume Research Centre which is open for student study at specific times.
If you have two or three hours to spare, drive or take a short taxi ride for
a few pounds to the American Museum for several interesting hours. View the
historic quilts and artefacts, stroll in the lovely grounds and get a coffee and cake at
the Orangery. Then try to tear yourself away from the wonderful selection of
costume and textile books.
Re-enactors and Bath Jane Austen Festival 17th to 25th September 2010
The Bath Jane Austen Festival draws attention to the author with an
annual celebration held in Bath. Austen fans dress up in Regency costume
every September. At forums months are spent discussing costumes and outfits
suitable for the occasion.
Jane Austen devotees can acquire tickets from Bath
Festivals Box Office a few months before September, but I suggest you also
check out the Jane Austen
Centre for practical details and an enthusiastic look at the Miss
Austen. The festival opens with a Regency Costumed Promenade through Bath
streets on a Saturday. Lots of opportunities exist for minor related
events, but dancing devotees can buy tickets for the costumed Ball at the
You'll have a grand day time in Bath whatever time of
year you visit.
Fashion-Era.com looks at women's costume and fashion history and analyses the mood of an era. Changes in technology, leisure, work, cultural and moral values. Homelife and politics also
contribute to lifestyle trends, which in turn influence the clothes we wear. These are the changes that make any era of society special in relation to the study of the costume of a period.
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