There is something so old-school and warm about the “old school romance”, and nothing describes it more eloquently than the regency and historical romances. And the only person, according to me, who can truly transport you to that world is one of the greatest female novelist of regency era – Jane Austen. Despite writing 6 novels in her lifetime, the legions of fans across the world can verify what Austenland means for them. And I am very proud to be associated with that crowd! While I live for the moments where I can check-off “strange pipedreams” from my list of Things to do, I will definitely admit that this pipedream was not as exhaustive as the one I uncovered with Harry Potter. Mostly because, Austenland is very difficult to cover in middle of student life, not to mention the fact that it requires me to look into possiblities of trekking. Hopefully, I will get a chance to write an exhaustive Austenland post in the near future. In the meantime, hope you enjoy this mini tour of Austenland.
‘Pemberley’, the lavish estate of Mr Darcy himself, is largely Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, estate homes of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire. Not only the exterior, here you can see the grand staircase and painted ceiling which so overwhelm Elizabeth, as well as the Sculpture Court, with the intriguing veiled figure, and the bust of Mr Darcy hidden in the gift shop. Since we made the visit during Christmas time, lot of the decorations of the interiors has been set-up to suit the theme of festivities.
With over 25 rooms to discover, these include a grand Painted Hall, State Rooms and Sculpture Gallery, Chatsworth House also contains works of art spanning over 4000 years, from ancient Roman sculpture to work by modern artists such as David Nash. If it wasn’t for Darcy, this would have been totally a missed opportunity!!
Chatsworth has a 105 acre garden which was created over the course of 500 years. You can find many ponds, unique water features and gardens, sculptures and even a maze as you stroll through the garden.
When the celebrated author Jane Austen made Bath her home, from 1801 to 1806, the city was a thriving spa resort, popular with fashionable society. It is no wonder that the vibrant and yet elegant city provided inspiration for two of her six published novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. Stepping into the city of Bath feels like you have slipped into the world of regency where every cure in the world can be attributed to the Bath waters, as recounted by numerous regency writers. According to Michael Raffael’s book “The Curiosities of Bath” [Birlinn 2006]; “Bath buns don’t slip into the English language until a young Jane Austen writes a typically mischievous letter about ‘disordering my stomach with Bath bunns.‘ The extra letter ‘n’ may not be an accidental slip, and may have been in reference to Sally Lunn’s House, which is incidentally also the oldest house in Bath. The quintessential afternoon tea at The Pump Room, once described by Austen as the place where ‘every creature in Bath was to be seen in the room at different periods of the fashionable hours‘, also adds another feather on the cap for the Austen fans.
There are plenty of ways to discover Jane Austen’s Bath. Plan a visit to the Jane Austen Centre during your trip, or join in the Jane Austen Festival for a more immersive experience. The Jane Austen Centre on Gay street in Bath focuses on the life and works of Jane Austen, her time in Bath and the effect that it had on her writing, as well as the Regency period in which she lived.
The Jane Austen Festival in Bath, has been denoted with the title of ‘Largest Gathering of People Dressed in Regency Costumes‘. The Guinness World Record was originally set in 2009, and reclaimed again in 2014, by the festival itself has been recognised as the biggest of its kind in the world, when 409 people gathered in the famous Assembly Rooms in the city. The festival takes place over ten days in September and welcomes everyone from faithful fans to fair-weather friends. Oh how I wish I can do this someday!!!
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