This month hubby and I flew to London to attend the wedding of 2 of my best friends. The wedding was very special and took place in a beautiful house in St. James Square where I had one of the best nights of the last few months. My friends were incredibly happy and we had an amazing time with them and all the other guests, but obviously a trip to London means an Austenesque escape for me so after discovering Lyme Park was closed until March, I decided to visit Chawton and Bath one more time… After all, it is impossible for one to grow tired of Bath 🙂
This is the type of trip a girl doesn’t do alone, so I invited a few friends to join Rui Pedro (who was practically dragged) and me in this adventure, and that is how I ended up visiting Chawton and Alton with Joana Starnes and Ana from My Vices and Weaknesses on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, and Bath and Lacock the following day with Joana and Mira from Obsessed with Mr. Darcy.
This small road trip started in London with Rui doing his best to drive on the “right” side of the road, changing the gear with his left hand and understanding the priorities in roundabouts, thankfully Ana was there to give him a hand because I just kept thinking we were going to crash. We were still in the highway when we got a call from Joana saying she was already in Chawton and Jane Austen’s House was closed. Can you believe it? I took a 2h30 min flight, rented a car, drove for 2 hours, but didn’t check if the house was open before doing all that. The truth is, I never expected it to be closed! But it looks good from the outside doesn’t it?
I’ll have to post another chapter of My Jane Austen Road Trip anytime soon with pictures of the inside as well, luckily I had been there in 2015 and will be able to show you all the rooms next time 🙂
People say we have to look at the bright side of life, and in fact, this little lapse was the perfect opportunity to spend hours and hours talking about Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion and JAFF with Joana and Ana 🙂 Rui just listened and waited with a patience of a saint 🙂 It also gave us some time to go to Alton and see some of the places Jane visited and it ended up being a perfect day!
Below you can see The Swan which was a coaching inn during Jane Austen’s life. She used the coach that stopped at this coaching inn when she travelled to London and I marvelled to think I was at another place she visited when she was alive. You can also see the site of the Bank of (Henry) Austen, Gray & Vincent between 1806 and 1812. Henry Austen was Jane’s brother and the bank handled some of her correspondence between Alton and London. It is not very impressive, but it has its significance for a Janeite like me 🙂
I truly did not want it to end! These ladies are amazing and I could talk and talk with them for ages! We hadn’t parted yet and I already wanted to repeat the experience…hopefully we will be able to meet once more this year, if not in the UK, maybe in Portugal 🙂 Seeing the places that marked Jane Austen’s life with these ladies was amazing, but the best part of the day was talking to them, and we can do that in any country :))
I was sad when we parted but also expectante for the following day which I hoped would be equally good 🙂
Monday morning I woke up in this beautiful but freezing scenery thinking that Elizabeth Bennet had to be nuts to regularly go on morning walks with the british weather, but I definitely recommend the hotel where we stayed (The Old Mill) for those visiting Bath with a vehicle. It is located in the countryside, 3 miles from Bath, and the peace and quiet we can feel there is enough to transport us back to the 19th century.
After a delicious english breakfast (I even had beans), I soon found myself in the center of Bath where I finally met Mira.
I have visited many places but none is like Bath, I absolutely love Bath!!! I loved it as much this time as the first time I was there and had the advantage of visiting it this time with true connoisseurs of Bath’s filming locations 🙂 We had not walked 500 meters when Joana pointed me the store where Anne and Captain Wentworth first see each other in Bath (swoon…), it looks very different and I didn’t go inside but it was nice to know that was the place. Now my imagination may drift to that store when I re-read Persuasion.
After a stop to take several pictures we headed out to the Royal Crescent were numerous more photos were taken and I imagined myself running towards Wentworth 🙂
This is probably one of the most known places in Bath, and I can see why. It is just astonishing! Pictures do not do it justice and they can only give a small idea of how beautiful and well kept this place is.
It was also one of the sites used for the filming of the 2007 Persuasion film, and even if I am on Ciaran Hinds team, and definitely prefer the 1995 version, everytime I see the Royal Crescent I think of this adaptation. Do you think there is a lot of discussion regarding favorite adaptations for Persuasion as well? I know there is a lot of talk regarding the favorite Pride and Prejudice adaptation, but what about Persuasion? Which is your favourite?
When I visited Bath in 2014 I didn’t enter the Assembly Rooms, so this time it was mandatory to see them. They were designed by John Wood the Younger in 1769 with the purpose of being a place for dancing and music. When they were completed in 1771 they were described as ‘the most noble and elegant of any in the kingdom’.
During our guided tour I learnt they were bombed and burnt out during the Second World War and due to budget constraints the place was very close to become a parking lot! Luckily the funds were obtained in time and Sir Albert Richardson undertook the restoration of the building before it’s reopening in 1963.
The building has rooms arranged in a U shape and there are four main function rooms in the complex: the ballroom; the tea room; the card room; and the octagon, all of them absolutely stunning, don’t you think?
After a lot of time looking at the goodies in the shop and buying several things, we went to the Jane Austen Center. I had also been there in 2014, so we didn’t get inside the museum itself, we just stayed almost an hour in the shop buying more things and went upstairs for tea with Mr. Darcy 🙂
As I had been in Bath before and Joana and Mira visit it often, we accepted Joana’s suggestion to visit Lacock. I confess I didn’t know what Lacock was until she explained to me that it was Meryton!!! This was the village that BBC chose to portray the village of Meryton in the 1995 Pride & Prejudice adaptation, and where the Bennet sisters visited aunt Phillips, sought the latest gossip, the latest fashions and the latest dose of attention from the officers.
The village is owned almost in its entirety by the National Trust and it felt like we were entering the 19th century due to picturesque streets and historic cottages untouched by modern alterations. How I wish we had preserved more places like this one!!! I spent a lot of time staring at the Red Lion and even made my own Mr. Darcy walk away towards it…he was just missing the Horse.
The Abbey in Lacock Village was also used for some of interior scenes, but we didn’t get a chance to visit it, which means there is a reason to go back 🙂
We were about to leave but Mira insisted we visited a bridge she spent 3 years looking for! Yes, 3 years, that is how much she loves Pride and Prejudice.
The landscape is beautiful isn’t it? But do you recognise it?
It was another location used in the 1995 P&P adaptation. In it Elizabeth is forced to tolerate Mr. Collins ramblins on their way to Meryton…Poor girl 🙂
Looking at the size of this post, and the amount of pictures I shared, it may look like we did a lot of things, but in the end it felt that the time was not enough to talk about all the things we wanted to talk about, and it was very hard to say goodbye to these wonderful ladies!! Now we only have the internet to keep in touch and the hope of meeting again soon!
But I can not end this post without sharing all the goodies I got from this trip :))) I hardly have a chance to buy these kind of things, so I tried to bring as many items as possible.
I hope you have enjoyed this long post and that you found these places interesting. If it has enticed you to see our favourite characters in all these places, there are plenty ways of doing so, not only you can buy the DVD’s of Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion and watch them a dozen times a year (if you don’t have them and don’t do that already!), but you can also watch them through Amazon Prime Video. This is an option I don’t have in Portugal, but I think it is just awesome!
Until my next Jane Austen Road trip, happy reading everyone! Or should I say enjoy your tv adaptations?