Oct 02

Friday Trip to Bath – Part I

by in 2009 Tour, Jane Austen, museum

Getting settled in our coach...

Getting settled in our coach...

Friday morning we all gathered bright and early in the hotel lobby with our luggage in tow, ready to board our private coach. Unfortunately, our driver got hung up in West London traffic and didn’t make it to the hotel until nearly an hour later, so, after loading all the bags and settling in, we were already an hour and a half behind schedule. I called Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton as we drove away to let them know we’d be running late, and we bade a fond farewell to South Kensington and London. It had been a marvelous week, and we all looked forward to the delights of the English Countryside, traveling through beautiful Surrey, Hampshire, and Wiltshire on our way to Bath in Somerset.

The day was overcast and rather gloomy looking, and when we pulled into Chawton, the temperature was decidedly chilly. Most everyone pulled on sweaters and jackets, and I hoped this wasn’t a prediction of the weather for our weekend in Bath! But the grey skies couldn’t dampen our spirits, and we eagerly made our way to the lovely little cottage Jane Austen called home for eight years.

We're here! Calling on Miss Austen...

We're here! Calling on Miss Austen...

My sweet mother-in-law, overseas for the first time, is thrilled to visit Jane Austen's house!

My sweet mother-in-law, overseas for the first time, is thrilled to visit Jane Austen's house!

A glimpse of the garden behind the house with its ivy-covered wall...

A glimpse of the garden behind the house with its ivy-covered wall...

Miss Molly stands in the gateway of the garden wall...

Miss Molly stands in the gateway of the garden wall...

img_2002Since the last time my husband and I visited Chawton in 2007, some amazing improvements have been made. The museum foundation has built a beautiful new visitor’s center in the back garden, using period architecture to make it blend in to the whole. The stables have been remodeled to house the new and vastly improved gift shop, which overflows with all things Austen. And the house itself has undergone some very tasteful renovations, using period wallpapers and paint colors to brighten the rooms and make them more like they would have looked in Jane’s day. The only unfortunate “update” is the addition of several inauthentic costumes sprinkled throughout the house. Our dear Suzi walked through the house grimacing and pointing out errors — such as the Tudor lace over modern chiffon on the “1820s” ballgown reproduction you see at right. Another mannequin boasted an empire-waist “work dress” with a modern kitchen apron tied around its natural waistline, a full foot below the waist of the gown itself! Much muttering and shaking of heads…. Happily, there were several authentic pieces on display as well, plus a couple of movie costumes, which I’ll share below.

The kitchen, which is at the back of the house.

The kitchen, which is at the back of the house.

The reception room, which includes a secretary filled with books from Rev. Austen's library and many first-edition volumes of Jane's.

The reception room, which includes a secretary filled with books from Rev. Austen's library and many first-edition volumes of Jane's.

The dining room/front room, which has the china set used by the Austen family. Jane's writing desk is tiny and tucked over in the corner next to the window, where she could observe village life.

The dining room/front room, which has the china set used by the Austen family. Jane's writing desk is tiny and tucked over in the corner next to the window, where she could observe village life.

One of the upstairs bedrooms with a costume from "Becoming Jane" (a film I do NOT recommend, by the way!)

One of the upstairs bedrooms with a costume from "Becoming Jane" (a film I do NOT recommend, by the way!)

Detail of Tom LeFroy's costume from "Becoming Jane"

Detail of Tom LeFroy's costume from "Becoming Jane"

The quilt hand-stitched by Jane, her sister Cassandra, and Mrs. Austen.

The quilt hand-stitched by Jane, her sister Cassandra, and Mrs. Austen.

A very pretty dotted Swiss bib-front gown in the back hallway upstairs.

A very pretty dotted Swiss bib-front gown in the back hallway upstairs.

Okay, and now for some garden shots for all of you who love English gardens as much as I do!

Okay, and now for some garden shots for all of you who love English gardens as much as I do!

Beautiful blooms even in September!

Beautiful blooms, even in September!

Still more blooms...

Still more blooms...

Stopping to smell the roses climbing next to the back door...

Stopping to smell the roses climbing next to the back door...

And, finally, Lindsay had to capture a shot of Cassandra across the street at the tea room named after Jane’s sister. It’s an absolutely wonderful place to eat, but they don’t do large groups (sigh), so we had to push on to Winchester…

She's right at home!

She's right at home!

Next time: Winchester Cathedral and Bath!

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11 Responses to “Friday Trip to Bath – Part I”

  1. From Tiffany Keller:

    It looks like you had a wonderful time! Hopefully one day I’ll get to visit Jane’s house! It looks so charming! Yeah, I’ve heard some of my friends say that they didn’t like “Becoming Jane” either.

    Posted on October 2, 2009 at 10:55 pm #
  2. From Diane:

    Sigh…. oh how dearly I wish I could have been there. The pictures are all just so scrumptious, though. It’s *almost* as wonderful as being there☺

    Posted on October 3, 2009 at 3:07 am #
  3. From Rebecca:

    oh my! What a lot of fun!

    Posted on October 3, 2009 at 8:52 am #
  4. From Ashley:

    *sighs* Looks like you all had a lovely time! I can’t wait to see all the pictures from Bath!

    Posted on October 3, 2009 at 11:03 am #
  5. From Lisateresa:

    This is lovely, Jennie! I so enjoyed seeing the garden photos!! And am pleased to see pictures of the inside of the house, which I didn’t know would be allowed. Thank you.

    Posted on October 3, 2009 at 12:26 pm #
  6. From Shelli Bennett:

    I want to go there! That’s all I have to say. My husband already knows it’s a prerequisite. ;)

    Shelli

    Posted on October 3, 2009 at 6:06 pm #
  7. From Sarah E.:

    Love the pictures!

    Jennie, your blue blouse is beautiful. Is it over a regular skirt, or is it part of a Regency ensemble? I can’t tell from the garden pic! Anyway, I’m interested in the blouse (if that’s what it is) and what pattern you may have used. Always looking out for good mommy clothes!

    Blessings, Sarah

    Posted on October 4, 2009 at 10:18 am #
    • From admin:

      Hi, Sarah! The blouse is actually the drawstring dress option from my Elegant Lady’s Closet pattern–only cut to hip-length instead of ankle-length. For maternity, I added three more inches of width (1.5 inches on the fold) to the center front of both the bodice and “skirt.” Since I didn’t plan to wear the blouse over stays, I also cut the bodice an inch and a half longer so I could wear it over regular underthings. These go together so quickly; I have another one in fall colors out of rayon-cotton blend–very comfy! I wore the one you see in the photos over a white knit skirt. It’s one of my favorite maternity shirts! :) Blessings, Jennie

      Posted on October 4, 2009 at 5:22 pm #
  8. From Chelsea A.:

    Thank you for the info on the blouse (I was going to ask the very same question)! I have bought some fabric and have been trying to figure out how to alter your patterns for maternity. This will make it easy to start – maybe even this afternoon!!
    ~Chelsea

    Posted on October 5, 2009 at 10:56 am #
  9. From Kathryn:

    How charming! I just love the climbing roses by the door…

    Posted on October 5, 2009 at 8:12 pm #

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  1. − Friday Trip to Bath - Part II - October 8, 2009

    [...] our delightful tour of Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, we boarded our coach for the short drive to Winchester, where Jane is buried in the cathedral. The [...]

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