Sunday, 8 March 2009

The city of Bath

'Mr Allen...was ordered to Bath for the benefit of a gouty constitution.' Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. And so begin the adventures of Catherine Morland in the delightful, smart and lively city of Bath

Bath is a beautiful city, thanks to the harmony of the architecture and the honey coloured local stone. It was always an important place, due to the healing powers of its hot springs, first developed by the Romans. In the Georgian period there was a massive development programme to provide elegant and comfortable public and private buildings.
For Georgian society Bath was THE place to spend several weeks or months in the winter.They came to take the waters for their health but also to enjoy showing off their fine clothes as they walked along the wide pavements or in the Parade Gardens below the Abbey. There were coffee houses, circulating libraries, pleasure gardens and of course the Assembly Rooms, where they could dance, gamble and drink tea.
The truly sick were taken from their beds straight into a sedan chair [the staircases and doorways in Bath are all made wide enough for this service] and taken to the hot bath, which gave relief from rheumatic pain.

The Sedan Chair
[Image courtesy of ]

Other complaints were treated by drinking a pint of the warm spring water three times a day. No wonder they sought out the amusements and entertainments to have something they could enjoy!

You can view many old scenes, etchings and paintings of Bath in the Georgian period at 
 Several of the characters of In All Honour are in Bath for their health. Another family is there because it was a useful way to prepare the young daughter, Lavinia, for her come-out in London. In Bath she can learn to dance without being too shy, she can join in the morning promenades, the tea parties, the concerts and gain poise and the necessary social skills of polite conversation and exquisite manners so that she will not be mauled in the tougher world of London society.
In addition, there were a number of schools or seminaries in Bath, for the education of young ladies. Sarah and her friend Lizzie spent several years in Miss Howard's Academy in Queen Square. Then as now, the shops were full of smart and enticing goods and the girls enjoyed their Sunday afternoon walk around the town, when they could get a glimpse of these tempting things.

1 comment:

  1. This is the city I fell in love with!
    Nice picture Beth.