Saying hello to the world.

Martin Slater on duty as Mr Bennet outside the Jane Austen Centre in Gay Street.
Martin on duty as Mr Bennet outside the Jane Austen Centre in Gay Street.
Martin on duty as Mr Bennet outside the Jane Austen Centre in Gay Street.

He might be helping to celebrate the city’s links with the past but Martin Slater – the man who’s been greeting visitors to Bath’s Jane Austen Centre for the past eight years – has been making sure he’s bang-up-to-date when it comes to keeping up with tourism trends.

Martin greeting the late British novelist  PD James.
Martin greeting the late British novelist PD James.

Martin – who makes all his own costumes – is dressed as Mr Bennet – father of Elizabeth Bennet from Jane Austen’s popular novel Pride and Prejudice. It’s the one that features that dashing Mr Darcy.

Martin goes 'walkies' with comedian and impersonator Rory Bremner
Martin goes ‘walkies’ with comedian and impersonator Rory Bremner
Martin with writer and tv presenter Marcel Theroux
Martin with writer and tv presenter Marcel Theroux

Martin’s no stranger to dressing up and often on hand to greet celebrities to the Centre or help them with local events.

Sometimes that involves  appearing in television programmes about Bath too.

Whatever the weather, you’ll often see him on duty at the front of this Gay Street museum – dedicated to one of the most popular novelists in English literature.

Jane spent several years in Bath as she was still living with her parents when her father retired to the city.

Martin in disguise and helping out the Duchess of Cornwall at a Christmas light switch-on! Photo by Sam Farr
Martin in disguise and helping out the Duchess of Cornwall at a Christmas light switch-on! Photo © Sam Farr

Martin is there with a friendly welcome for Jane Austen fans. If he knows the tour operator on a coach outside – stuck in the traffic – he’ll even hop on board and ask for their passports!

Greeting such an international crowd of Austen fans means he’s had to pick up a little of many a foreign language and now – with visitors from much further afield  – his abilities are really being tested.

More on that in a moment but first – the Virtual Museum wanted to know how he came to end up on the doorstep of number 40 Gay Street.