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Saturday, 01 July 2006

What Would Jane Do? A Literary Pilgrimage - Page 3

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I’ve been to England twice before, to the beautiful Georgian city of Bath in particular, because as a Jane Austen aficionado, a “Jane-ite,” if you will, that’s what we do. We follow in her footsteps, we look for the Jane connection, and we read each of her six novels (and the juvenilia, the marginalia, and the letters) as if they were travelogues.

My last stop was a far walking distance away: all the way back toward the Abbey and the River Avon, across the Pultney Bridge and beyond. The Bridge is one of the few in the world that has little shops and an office built right into the bridge itself. It was built in 1769-1774 and if I hadn’t been on such an urgent mission to see one last Austen house before departing, I might have paused in some of the many charming shops. However, this is Jane we’re talking about, so souvenirs and tea cups had to wait.

I walked up Argyle Street and through Laura Place, where the Austen’s aspired to live but couldn’t quite afford, and then down Great Pultney Street to the end, where it meets Sidney Gardens and Sidney Place. The Austen’s eventually took a house at 4 Sidney Place, which pleased Jane and her sister Cassandra mightily: “It will be very pleasant to be near Sidney Gardens! -- we might go into the Labyrinth every day.” In Austen’s day, there were concerts, strolls and other entertainment in the public gardens, and it is a pleasure to read of her joy and contentment in the house.

Number 4 is the only house I saw that commemorates Jane’s dwelling with a plaque. 4 sydneyAs for my own commemoration, I took a weed from a crevice in the front fence. Pathetic, I know, but it was Jane’s house, I say. What would Jane have done? Enough said.


The day I went to
Bath to see all-things-Jane was the one day the Jane Austen Centre was closed. If you go, which is recommended, do stop in and have tea with Mr. Darcy -- a portrait of Colin Firth in the Pride and Prejudice role gazes down from the wall and you can enjoy tea and scones as Jane would have. The Centre is located back on Gay Street (40 Gay St, tel +44 [0] 1225 443000).


bath abbeyOnce I reached the end of
Pultney Street, with no concerts or labyrinth to be found, I returned to the Abbey and finished my sojourn in search of Jane with a small repast at the oldest house in Bath, the famous Sally Lunn’s. There, your dinner is served on trenchers of bread, known as Bath buns or Sally Lunn buns.


Sally Lunn, as the story goes, was a young refugee from the French Revolution who began to bake a rich, round bread now known as the Sally Lunn Bun. The “
Bath bun” became a popular delicacy in Georgian England and was enjoyed with either sweet or savory accompaniments. To our modern taste, a Bath bun is like a large non-descript hamburger bun, not quite the culinary thrill it once must have been. It’ll fill you up, or possibly give you a bellyache, as it did Jane, who wrote to her sister that she planned to “disorder my stomach with Bath buns” upon her arrival. A bellyful of Bath buns, a cup of tea, and a pocketful of treasures seemed an appropriately English was to say farewell to Jane and the beautiful city of Bath. I think it’s what Jane would have done, too.

Julia Park is a California writer and editor, and, of course, Jane Austen admirer.

©Julia Park

(Page 3 of 3)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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