Regency Bath Part V -

I hope you all had a happy Valentines Day and are not suffering from chocolate withdrawal. Romance writers love chocolate, but I managed to escape eating more than a couple of pieces.

Last day we took a peek at the evirons for February, but now we are back to Bath. Of course, by now you will realize I am cheating. I use the tags on the blog to keep track of my research and my pictures, as well as pass along what I hope is interesting information. I decided to do Bath in depth as I am planning a story set there. So many stories to write, never enough hours in the day.

Assembly Rooms Cont'd
The rest of the Assembly Rooms, the basement, is =devoted to a fashion museum. On the occasion we visited, it was fashion through the ages, rather than a Regency display, but I did manage to take a couple of pictures you might find of interest.

As you can see, this picture was taken through glass. With permission, I might add. But it is an 1815 muslin gown, so typical of our period I just could not resist. While it has long sleeves it is very light and airy and would have been considered a morning gown. The male navy blue wool coat in the back ground is from the 1830's, so a little bit late, but men's fashions did not change much, except for the trousers, which you can see quite clearly. Men were wearing trousers in the Regency era, but by the 1830's they had replaced pantaloons and breeches almost entirely, except for formal wear.

This light green Woven silk pelisse is from 1807. The curator's notes indicates that a pelisse was the first "coat" and that during this period most people mostly still wore shawls. She also noted that cloaks, capes and mantles were also fashionable during this period. I love cloaks. I adore a man in a cloak, in my imagination, the way it swirls around his body, making him look tall and mysterious. Shiver.
What can I say, I am a romance writer!!

Anyway back to Bath!

The last terrible picture I want to show you is of a coin purse from the 18th century, that would also have been common during the Regency.
Now this is clearly a display of handbags down the ages, or purses or pocketbooks as they are called in North America. But the item that I was interested in was the long black thing hanging over the stand at the front with gold tassels. Sorry for the blurriness but conditions were less than ideal. Anyway how this worked was that there was a slit in the middle of the woven black fabric through which one would insert coins. Then, to stop them falling out one pushed the rings at each end together, so it pretty well looked like the coin rolls we use at the bank today.

Personally, it doesn't look terribly convenient, but with the lack of zippers and other fastenings, I am sure it was helpful in keeping one's change together and handy.
This one is 'very fancy', as my oldest daughter would say, and probably used for evening wear. I am sure there were more everyday types, but it is the fancy ones that are more likely to survive. I mean, my beaded evening bags are all wrapped and put away and dragged out for special occasions, my everyday purses are only fit for the dumpster when I am done with them. So you can imagine which ones will end up being around for future generations to look at. And they will think we all walked around clutching little tiny bags covered in glitter and beading with room for a lipstick and a comb.

Except of course we have so many more records of our day to day lives, they won't be fooled at all.

Well, that's it for the assembly rooms. Moving on to the pump room next time, if you can stand it. And I am going to try to scan a map of Georgian Bath for you. Oh, and by the way, my newsletter went out this week, with a story about Prinny. If you haven't signed up and want to do so, then do it in the next day or so and I will send you this last issue as a bonus.

Until next time, happy rambles.

Regency Bath Part IV - Assembly Rooms

First I want to announce that Brides of the West is now available through Amazon. I have lots of work to do to update the links, but you can find it here. Even more exciting!! One of my co-authors has produced a book trailer, which you can see on the sidebar of this blog. Now how cool is that.

As you know, my Mother passed away on Christmas Eve and she and I visited Bath earlier in December. It has taken me a while to go back to my planned blog on that city. Then I decided that since it was a wonderful Mother/Daughter visit and a very happy memory I would continue with the series.

So I hope you will join me as I continue my tour of Jane Austen's Bath.

After the circus, the next place on our itinerary was the Assembly Rooms on Bennett Street, just east of the circus. Designed by John Wood the Younger in 1769. Known as the Upper Rooms they opened in 1771. I was pleased with this picture, because it shows the columned entrance in beautiful bath stone and to the right the outside of "the rooms" themselves. Hallowed halls. Actual rooms where Jane Austen danced. I took some very nice pictures inside too. the first is of the board which shows the layout. Not great quality, but should give you a sense of the organization.

I took a series of pictures of the octagonal card room, just outside the ballroom, but here I show only one. I asked about the chandeliers in the building and they are all originals, except one that had to be replaced, because it fell. I thought this shot, with the chandelier and the balcony above gave a good impression of this room. In this view you can see two window frames, but they are dark. However on each of the sides there are
windows, which do let in daylight, since they have external exposure. And of course you will notice the fireplaces. Essential, to have several for such a large room.

The Assembly Rooms are still used for functions, even though the building is National Trust. I expect it helps with the upkeep. And I should mention that the people looking after it were incredibly friendly and quite happy for me to take all of these pictures.

This picture of the ballroom I took from the web, because it is a lovely professional picture. The columned end of the room would have served a couple of purposes, first the orchestra would have been located on the balcony. Second, the serving rooms were hidden behind the columns on the main floor. My picture is of a peak through that door. Not that I assume that anything behind it is as original, but the space certainly was.
I also took a picture along the side wall and guess what, more fireplaces and more windows. I thought you might like to see it.

Turning back to look at the door through which we entered I discovered yet another balcony. would a young Prince have stood here watching the company? One can only imagine.

I discover that while I have more to show you, I have run out of room for today's blog and so we will have to ramble through more of the Assembly Rooms next time.
Until then, Happy Rambles.

Regency Bath - Part III - The Circus

Before we get started on our topic for today, I just want to remind you that my newsletter will be going out this week, so if you would like to sign up you can find it on the sidebar to this blog.

Now, where were we. Ah yes, we left the Jane Austen Center and walked up Gay Street, an exceedingly steep hill, to the Circus. I paused here and took several pictures from all kinds of angles.
I particularly liked this one because of the sun reflecting off the windows and the gold toned stone. The circus, is a circle, and the townhouse curve around it in the most elegant way, broken only by the roads.

The next picture shows the top of the circle and the island of green in the center and after that the matching wing to the first picture completes the circle and you get a little glimpse of mother patiently waiting for the photographer to finish.

The Circus, originally called King's Circus, was designed by the architect John Wood the Elder, who died less than three months after the first stone was laid. His son, John Wood the Younger completed the scheme to his father's design between 1755 and 1766.

Wood's inspiration was the Roman Colosseum, but whereas the Colosseum was designed to be seen from the outside, the Circus faces inwardly. Three classical Orders, (Greek Doric, Roman/Composite and Corinthian) are used, one above the other, in the elegant curved facades. The frieze of the Doric entablature is decorated with alternating triglyphs and 525 pictorial emblems, including serpents, nautical symbols, devices representing the arts and sciences, and masonic symbols. The parapet is adorned with stone acorn finials. When viewed from the air the Circus along with Queens Square and the adjoining Gay Street form a key shape which is a masonic symbol.

The central area was originally paved with stone setts, covering a reservoir in the centre which supplied water to the houses. In 1800 the Circus residents enclosed the central part of the open space as a garden. Now, the central area is grassed over and is home to a group of venerable plane trees planted in the 1820's, so they could well a have been there at the end of the Regency. You can see those plane trees in my first picture. Here are a couple of views of the Circus, from 1773 and 1829 respectively. You can clearly see the open piazza in the first one.

Among the lessees of the south western segment, which was completed first, were the eminent politician William Pitt and his cousin Lady Lucy Stanhope, who took adjoining plots. On 18 November Lady Stanhope moved into her new-built house - the first in the Circus to be inhabited. Pitt's house was reported to be almost fit for his reception and he arrived in Bath around Christmas time. The most desirable houses were those on the north side, with their sunny south-facing fronts. William Pitt, by then Earl of Chatham and in his second term as Prime Minister, moved from his double-sized house in the south-western segment to one almost as large at no.11, while the spacious central house at no.14 was taken by John, 4th Duke of Bedford. The close proximity was convenient in October 1766 as Chatham and Bedford pounded between each other's houses in a round of political bargaining. For men such as these the Circus provided a second or third home. They were seasonal visitors, part of the ebb and flow of the haute monde between London, country estates and Bath. Permanent residents included those who catered to the seasonal flow, such as the artist Thomas Gainsborough at no. 17 and his sister Mary Gibbon, who became the chief lodging-house keeper in the Circus, running three houses there.

While small, this image gives an overview of the Circus, originally called King's circus by the way. You can see how each of the three roads intering the Circus are all confronted by a grand arc of building, just like the one in my picture of the north section.
This is an end of one of the crescents, you clearly see the columns, the acorns at the edge of the roof and the style of each town house, not to mention the blocked in windows, likely filled in to avoid paying window tax.

This last is typical me, a peek over the wrought iron railings, which would have been painted green or blue in Georgian times, into the area. The floor below street level, which usually contained the kitchen and cellars where the servants worked. Accessed by outside steps, tradesmen would have delivered through door from the street. Sometime there was a manhole in the street down which the coalman would deliver coal.

Well, there is lots more to show you about Bath, but I think this is enough for today. Until next time: Happy Rambles.

Regency Bath - Part I

I promised you some blogs on my visit to Jane Austen's Bath last month. In reality Jane Austen's Bath is a little earlier than the Regency. Both her visit to Bath as a young woman, after which she wrote Northanger Abbey, and the period during which she lived in Bath 1804 - 1806 were in advance of the time during which Prinny was Prince Regent in 1811.

Given that at this time of year, mornings and early evenings are gloomy in England, we set off about nine-thirty so as to have good light, and less traffic. We decided to take the A36 since it joins the A303 from Andover in Hampshire which is a nice quiet road out of that runs past Stonehenge. We are now in Wiltshire on the magnificent expanse of Salisbury Plain. Nothing quiet like Stonehenge in the pale light of a winter's day to set the imagination wheeling back in time, I can tell you.

Mother and I reminisced about bygone family picnics, the stones as our backrest, on our annual trips to the coast. There was a real sense of human history to those moments. We were saddened to think that these days, because people cannot be trusted to respect such ancient monuments, there is a fence between the henge and the visitor. However, as a side note, if you want to have that tactile connection to the past I highly recommend the Avebury henge, but only if you promise to be kind to these stone warriors of time. But more about that on another occasion.

Our journey took about an hour and a half and we enjoyed some magnificent countryside, the open vistas of Salisbury Plains, and the rolling hills of Somerset, the county in which Bath is located. Bath sits on the River Avon. As we drove down the hill via what would have been the approach to Bath from London in the old days, the wonderful bath-stone terraced houses clung to the hillside opposite. Mother, who had not been to Bath before was impressed. A major achievement, if I may so so. lol. This image gives you a sense of it, but is from Wiki, since driving and photographing do not make a good combination.

Our route took us past the Jane Austen Center, through Queens Square and to our final destination, alack not a Regency house, but a Victorian B & B.

Once we settled into our digs, which would make a story in itself, including me pinching my finger in mother's wheelchair, we began our rambles. And I look forward to telling you all about them and sharing my photos next time. I believe long blogs tend to lose the interest of readers, so I prefer to give you smaller chunks. But I am happy to taken any feedback on this format.

And don't forget, if you enjoy a quick read with characters set in Regency times, my short story, Christmas Masquerade is now in e-book format for the low price of $1.60 and for those who like to settle beside the fire with a long story, No Regrets is in a store near you. Ok so shameless self-promotion, but if I don't do it, who will.

Until Monday and Regency Bath- Part II, Happy rambles.