Hot on the heels of Bath Preservation Trust’s innovative visitor experience at No1. Royal Crescent – which allows visitors to see life as it was lived in a grand Georgian house – comes a specially- commissioned new interpretation to coincide with this autumn’s Jane Austen Festival (10 – 19 September 2021).
Opening on 11 September and running for the remainder of the Festival (and for selected sessions in the future), the Jane Austen-themed tour looks at life in Regency England, including the time she was writing and, for a time, resident in Bath.
Using passages and conversations from Austen’s novels, the activities that took place in the rooms of properties such as No.1 Royal Crescent have been brought to life by actors, who also give voice to the thoughts and feelings of the people who inhabited them. From social climbing to gender inequality, the new visitor attraction explores through Austen’s fiction, the facts of what life was like for many of those who would have been visiting, living or working in Georgian Bath as one century ended and new one began.
Although we may tend to view the Georgian era (1714-1830) through the prism of TV shows such as Bridgerton or film adaptations of Jane’s classic novels, including Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility or Emma, ‘The long 18th century’ as it is sometimes referred to, was a time of immense change; socially, politically, and economically. The Industrial Revolution was in its early stages, fomenting deeper class divisions, while ideologically opposed political parties, the Whigs and the Tories, were formed. It was also a time of continual warfare, with conflicts such as the American war of Independence, the Napoleonic Wars and the Irish rebellion of 1798, being fought at a time when Britain was expanding her colonial territories across Asia.
As the country’s fortunes and territories expanded, so the arts flourished also, with architecture, poetry and novels, painting and music all producing a plethora of stars, including Robert Adam and John Nash, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats and William Wordsworth, along with Henry Fielding, Mary Shelley and, of course Jane Austen. Painters such as Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Lawrence and Joshua Reynolds were highly sought after by wealthy patrons, while composers Handel, Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart enjoyed huge acclaim in the UK.
“As a Georgian house museum, we want to tell stories from throughout this long and fascinating period, from the highs of the mid-18th century to the shifts in society of the early 19th,” says Claire Dixon, Director of Museums for Bath Preservation Trust, “Using the writings of authors who lived through it is often the most evocative way of exploring such change, and when it comes to Georgian Bath there is one author whose name is always at the top of the list, Jane Austen. Our new Jane Austen tour looks at life in Britain in the 1790s – 1820, including the five years when she lived between 1801 and 1806, at a time when the city was a thriving spa resort and popular with fashionable society, providing her with a rich source of material for her novels.”
For more information about the for Jane Austen-themed experiences at No.1 Royal Crescent, plus other information visit www.no1royalcresecent.org.uk and follow @No1museum on Twitter, @no1royalcrescent on Instagram and @No1RoyalCrescent on Facebook.