September 17, 2010 Jennie Chancey

Friday in Bath

Our faithful driver, Jon, waits for us as we make a quick stop on a street in Bath. We have come to love our blue coach!

We didn’t have to get such an early start today, as Bath is only 30-40 minutes away from us, so we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and sauntered down the drive to meet our coach. To our surprise, our driver and everyone else from Lacock were already there. They beat us this morning and seemed very proud of having done so (they have to get going 15 minutes earlier than the rest of us!). We made it to Bath in record time and were a tad early for our appointment at the Jane Austen Centre. We listened to the introductory talk about Jane in Bath, then browsed through the exhibit downstairs. Here are some highlights:

Lovely silhouettes like these grace the walls of the waiting room outside the exhibition and contain witty sayings about Jane Austen.

A jaunty naval officer on display with some military paraphernalia.

My daughter admires the doll in the “Dressing Elizabeth Bennet” display, which you can enjoy at http://www.janeausten.co.uk/magazine/page.ihtml?pid=170&step=4!

Our ladies begin to settle in for the delightful “Tea with Mr. Darcy” in the Jane Austen Centre’s Tea Rooms.

A happy quartet of ladies awaits the delicious repast…

Here I am with my younger daughter, who was very excited about “high” tea–three storeys up!

Beautiful Claverton Hall…

After tea, we boarded our coach for the short drive to Claverton Hall, which is home to the American Museum in Britain. This museum was designed by two American businessmen in the 1950s who wanted to provide a true history of the Colonies for Brits. 😉 The museum is made up of rooms set up to replicate American homes from the 1690s through 1860s and has thousands of artifacts, including furniture, silverware, historical clothing, and one of the premier collections of American quilts in the world. Many of the quilts are displayed in the rooms as they would have been used during the time. There is also a second building with quilts hanging on all the walls (art gallery style!), plus a quilted 18th-century petticoat and quilted 19th-century stays. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to photograph anything inside the museum buildings, but I took a lot of pictures outside, as the grounds are simply breathtaking. Our ladies enjoyed wandering through the perfectly manicured “Mount Vernon” garden, exploring the walking trail, and just sitting on the terrace to take in the incredible view:

My girls especially appreciated the children’s play area and all the wonderful overhanging trees and secret nooks just begging to be explored. This is an ideal outing for families, and I have to say the museum displays were just as authentic as anything I’ve seen in Massachusetts, Colonial Williamsburg, or the Smithsonian. The docents very obviously enjoy talking about American history and showing off what each room holds. It was such fun to walk through. I wish I could have photographed an 18th-century gown on display, as it was nearly identical to my new Ladies’ 1780s’ Portrait Dress pattern (coming soon!), down to the armholes, seam lines and neckline. I was tickled pink to see it!

Here is a little visual tour of our afternoon:

Plenty of space for little folks to run!

Another view of the mansion, this one from the side facing the garden…

Miss Elisabeth takes in the gorgeous scenery…

The “Mount Vernon” Garden

The adorable summer house. If you look hard, you can see an English robin perched on the top corner of the left door. He sang his heart out to us!

My oldest daughter enjoyed the allee of trees above the garden…

Roses climbed the wall next to the Orangery…

Herbs and flowers for sale at the Claverton Herb shop…

We had such a lovely, leisurely afternoon at Claverton–a nice break from the pace we’ve been keeping all week! We made our way back to our B&Bs around 4:30, and lots of us spent our afternoon trying to finish up trimming bonnets or ironing things for tomorrow’s Regency Promenade to kick off the Jane Austen Festival. I couldn’t resist taking a few more shots of our lovely inn, Rudloe Hall:

This is the back of the inn, covered in ivy….

Looking out from beneath the grape arbor next to the dining room…

Peeking in at the dining room window — looks like everything’s laid out for supper!

I can’t resist hydrangeas! These are massed beneath the dining room windows. Ahhh!

Walking back into the Lounge, I found my mother playing marbles with my daughter. Fun!

My other daughter decided to cut out paper dolls Suzi gave her today….

A drowsy corner of the lounge, just begging for someone to come and sit…

It’s now bedtime, so I’ll sign off. We start for Bath around 9:15 in the morning, all dressed up for the Grand Costumed Promenade and hoping there’s no morning frost! I’ll report back tomorrow evening if all goes well. Cheers!

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About the Author

Jennie Chancey I launched Sense & Sensibility Patterns in 1998 with my original Regency Gown pattern. I never dreamed I'd one day have over two dozen patterns on the market and would be leading tours yearly in the UK! Enjoy my blog, and let me know if you'd like to travel with us!

Comments (8)

  1. Oh LOVE LOVE!!! This sounds like the *perfect* day – I’m a bit of a wanderer, terrible on tours because I want to explore every minute detail! This would have been so my speed. And your inn – IVY!! OOOohh! I have such a *thing* for ivy-covered stone/stucco walls!

  2. Elisabeth's mum

    Simply divine!
    I know in my heart that Miss Elisabeth is eternally grateful for you and for you arranging this tour.
    Thank you so much for posting pictures and commentary!

  3. Jackie Henderson

    Bath – one of my favourite cities. All your photos are beautiful. Thanks for sharing them. I only live about 2 hours on the train away from Bath but very rarely get chance to go the last time must have been sometime in the 90s!. Loved seeing the Jane Austen Centre again.

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