Thursday, 28 August 2008

Regency Bath

( The Royal Crescent - 7.00 am )

Straight after we had finished our tour of the museum we went for afternoon tea at The Pump Room , which is next door . This venue has an illustrious history as the grand "see and be seen", promenading point of the Georgian period . Having envisaged The Pump Room on numerous occasions whilst reading Miss Austen's works (notably Northanger Abbey) I felt excited to queue up for half an hour to get a seat in the genteel and charmingly time-warped restaurant .

From the photo above you can see that even the waiting-vestibule has a treat in store for those who look up !
We gratefully took our seats - good grief my legs ached ! - and studied the menu , noting that a whole-works tea (sandwiches , savoury tarts , scones and cream , sliced cake , petit fours and bottom-less tea pot ) were £17.50 for one ! We didn't turn a hair though ! (wouldn't be very Bath m'dears ) but all came to the conclusion we could never squash that much down anyway !! Whilst we delicately snaffled our fresh cream strawberry gateau slices we listened to the trio of musicians playing in the alcove - to our delight we were slap bang in front of them . Yes, "madam" very much enjoyed her slice of history with her cake !

(Spectacular Pump Room chandelier )

The Georgians would spend the winter season in Bath , ostensibly "taking the waters" ; drinking and bathing in them , and you can still have a glass from the Pumper who stands in the circular window (visible from the baths )

If you click on this picture you should be able to see the fishy water deliverers .

Such a beau-monde of residents required plenty of classy housing and amusements - in fact one architect and his son were responsible for all the major architecture , including The Royal Crescent , The Assembly Rooms , and The Circus ; a giant assemblage of Bath stone terraces which has the shape of a key when viewed from the air . We visited no.1 Royal Crescent , which is an elegantly recreated Regency home of grandeur . I particularly loved seeing the Sedan chair in the back hall - every wealthy person either hired or owned them to get to and from The Baths . Apparently the staircases were all designed with a turning point in them to make the bearers job a little easier !

(The Circus )

(Royal Crescent )

(Pulteney Bridge - weir in front)

Jane Austen was actually a resident of Bath for five years , and you can take a walking tour of all the addresses she lived at , and places directly mentioned in the novels - like Pulteney Street, with its bridge of little shops . From the road side we went in the Antique Map shop to buy collectible stamps for Brett , and it was only when we looked through the tiny window we realised we were on the bridge ! It is said to be the only one , apart from the Ponte Vecchio , which has these inset shops - and what a fantastic view through that window !

I'm not sure that Jane Austen totally approved of the superficiality at the heart of Bath society and its fashionable gatherings , but I was thrilled to enter The Assembly Rooms ; which were known as "The Upper Rooms" and were the place to attend balls . The building has become a Fashion Museum ...... of course I loved it ! Not to mention the strange frisson I got peering in to the main ball-room ; another frequent scene of the narratives .

(The Upper Rooms)

(Upper Room ceiling detail)

I shall save the Fashion Museum details for my next post .... with the exhibition of Marilyn Monroe's dresses !

Ruth x

1 comment:

TinyBear said...

Oh - how wonderful.
I´ll never get my husband with me for tea in The Pump room. I´ll just have to take a peak in the doorway :o).
Can´t wait for the next report - thanks a lot for sharing Ruth.
See you - hugs Tina