Beautiful Bath

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Last weekend, I set off on a day trip to Bath with my fellow Old Fashioned Girl Miranda, her lovely mum Donna and our mutual friend Rachel. I last visited Bath about four years ago, so it was high time for another visit in the city that is so well known for its beautiful Georgian architecture, and, for us literary types, its connection with Jane Austen. Just over an hour on the train from London, and you are in a different world entirely. From a distance, Bath unfolds before you as if in a fairytale; its streets are golden ribbons encircling the green hills on which they are perched, and the city sits enthroned above the surrounding countryside. When the sun strikes the buildings, they glow softly, adding to the sense of enchantment and ethereality that pervades this magical kingdom. I was wonderstruck as we pulled into the station, having forgotten just how beautiful it all was.

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Our first port of call was The Crescent, which sits at the top of the city and has a breathtaking view down into the valley below. This street, along with The Circus just behind it, are architectural marvels, their tall, perfectly proportioned terraces curving gently around to provide not only visual beauty but also a sense of whimsy in their playful challenge to the monotony of straight lines. We loved walking these wide and airy streets, our feet striking the worn pavements that hold the echoes of so much history. If you close your eyes, you can almost hear the swishing of dresses and the clicking of horses’ hooves as Regency men and women hurry from lodgings to assembly rooms, in pursuit of the next party. We wandered down from The Circus into the centre of town, bustling with shoppers. On our way to get lunch, we passed the Pump Rooms and the beautiful Abbey, and I also spotted a wonderful original painted sign for the Circulating Library; I wonder if Jane Austen was ever a customer?

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After a delicious three course lunch, which was at the outstanding Acorn Vegetarian Kitchen, we popped into the Abbey. I remembered from my last visit that it was quite unusual in my experience of such churches in that its walls are literally lined from floor to ceiling with memorial tablets, many of them very elaborate. I assume this is because so many people came to Bath for health reasons and unfortunately died during their stay. Alongside the memorials, which make for very interesting reading, there are many gorgeous stained glass windows to enjoy. Once we had looked around, we rushed off to the nearby bus stop to catch the American Museum in Britain’s free shuttle bus to its location just outside of the city, which gave us some lovely panoramic views of Bath on the way and took us past some seriously beautiful mansions built on the hillsides.

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The American Museum in Britain is one of my favourite small museums in the UK. Situated within a very pretty Georgian mansion, it has a range of historic rooms from American houses as well as a wonderful collection of textiles, particularly patchwork quilts. We were so keen to visit on our day trip mainly because of its current exhibition of Kaffe Fassett’s stunning textiles, which were imaginatively displayed, creating an absolute riot of colour inside the museum’s dedicated exhibition space. Looking at Kaffe’s beautiful designs and inventive colour combinations, I felt inspired to get my quilt back out and resume with my never ending hexagons…definitely a summer project! Outside, the huge tree by the entrance to the museum has been hung with fabric lanterns and blanketed with crochet, which is such a bright and fun sight to see on arriving, and is representative of the museum’s ethos of giving visitors an exciting and unique experience. Alongside the museum and the exhibition, there are also many acres of garden to enjoy, which offer astounding views across the surrounding countryside. It’s a truly wonderful place to visit, and a must-do if you are in the neighbourhood. Bath once again proved itself to be a remarkably fascinating, varied and beautiful city that has so much to offer. I’ll definitely be back again soon!

32 comments

  1. Thanks so much! I loved Bath and hope to get back there some day. I have some Bath stone, taken from a construction site. So lovely.

  2. Is Baynton’s antiquarian booksellers and bookbinders still there? I’ve spent hours there, got locked into the basement once when they shut up at lunchtime. Three floors of bliss. Behind the shop is the working area, you can catch a glimpse sometimes of people bowed over disembodied books. I had my copy of Hans Anderson rebound there.

  3. I’m lucky enough to live in Bath was delighted to see your post. I worked for ten years in Waterstones on Milsom Street pretty well opposite the Reading Room sign. It seems so familiar! You’ve also reminded me that it’s time for a visit to the American Museum, gorgeous both inside and out. If you’ve time on your next visit you might like to seek out Mr B’s Emporium – an excellent indie bookshop – and Bea’s Tea Rooms followed by a trip to the Fashion Museum.

    1. How lucky you are! When I was there, I thought Bath is definitely a place where I could live. I am jealous! I went to Mr B’s and The Fashion Museum the first time I visited Bath – no time for them this time but I should love to visit them again, so thanks for reminding me. Bea’s Tea Rooms I have not come across – on the list for the next visit!

  4. Aww, I had so much fun with you three! The weather could have been less grey and windy, but was pretty good for April! I came home and read Bath Tangle (which isn’t actually set in Bath, but nevertheless a very good read and it’s never a bad time for GH). We’ll have to go back and re-visit all the other must sees we missed this time – then perhaps Lyme Regis? Miranda picked up the Tracy Chevalier book set there, and I’m really enjoying it. Plus no doubt JA preferred it! xx

    1. It was such a lovely day, Donna! Oh yes – Lyme Regis would be lovely – I haven’t been in years and I’d love to walk in Anne’s footsteps again!🙂 I shall look for those books as well – you always find the most interesting ones! xx

  5. Such a wonderful day out! Did you ladies buy your tickets ahead of time? I remember wanting to book tickets during a trip to London in 2007 and if memory serves me correctly the train fare was ridiculously more money than other hour-long rides to various cities. Is there a premium on visits to Bawth! In any case, I need to see that stunning crescent for myself and will just have to pay up.
    Here’s to a wonderful Easter holiday, Rachel, and some well-deserved time off!

    1. Yes we did but they were still very expensive, Darlene! Nearly £50 for a round trip for me, which makes it a treat rather than something I could do often. Train travel in this country is insanely expensive but the best prices are normally 12 weeks before your travel time so you need to book 3 months or so in advance. You would love Bath though – it is worth the money! Thank you – I had a lovely couple of weeks to relax but back at the grindstone now!

  6. What gorgeous description and photos. I love that tree so much. I have always loved Kaffe Fassett. My sister and i did a Bath trip and loved it. We actually enjoyed a bus tour with marvellous guide. Did you know that a Bath journalist wrote an unflattering report on Queen Victoria and she was so offended that when she travelled through Bath she had to have the curtains drawn so that she couldn’t see it. She doesn’t know what she missed.

  7. Your gorgeous pictures -and the evocative, lovely descriptions accompanying them- almost made me feel i was in Bath myself❤. Thanks for sharing your trip😀.

  8. Thanks for this lovely post, Rachel. It has me tripping down memory lane… I haven’t been to Bath for a few years now and you have transported me right back to the Royal Crescent in all its’ beauty, the Pump Rooms, The baths themselves, pretty tea rooms and side streets, the stunning Bath stone architecture, the view from the station…the list goes on! Best of all though is your recount of the amazing American Museum, which, if it had not been for my husband, I might never have heard of, let alone visited. What a hidden gem of a place! The quilt exhibition is indeed fantastic and I would love to witness the riot of colour that would be the Kaffe Fassett exhibition! Thanks for the heads up on that! As ever, a splendid post, many thanks.

    1. I’m glad to bring back so many happy memories! It truly is a lovely city and such a range of things to do and see. I am looking forward to returning already!

  9. If most of your knowledge of England comes from pre-railroad era fiction, it is almost impossible to fathom that you can still visit the pump rooms AND that Bath is an hour from London by train. You mean I don’t have to wait until an acquaintance or member of my family is taking his/her carriage? That if I’m going to be in London I can take in Bath as a day trip? Mind boggling!

  10. What a timely post, my mother and I are going to Bath for a few days this Summer. Thanks for mentioning the free shuttle to the American Museum, it’s on my to-see list and I was wondering how to get there. And I love your pictures, as always.

    1. Oh how lovely! Yes you must go to the American museum but give yourself a good half a day to enjoy it properly. The cafe does lovely food! I hope you’ll have a brilliant time when you visit.

  11. I have enjoyed all your posts. I have had the pleasure of visiting beautiful Bath in England. I have saved most of your wonderful comments about books that you enjoy. I am reading Crossing to Safety on your recommendation. I cannot locate the post about this book. Is it possible to send the post again to trudydavidson@verizon.net I would really appreciate it . Thank you, Trudy Davids

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