This literary tour of Bath will take you through sites connected to Austen, Dickens, Mary Shelley and more. Most bookworms will be aware that Austen’s Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were both set in Bath but this literary city’s connection to Charles Dickens and Mary Shelley are less well known. This beautiful city inspired the writings of these three British literary giants though interestingly both Austen and Dickens began to dislike Bath as time went on.
This guide offers but a glimpse into the Jane Austen sites in Bath and an overview of other literary greats who found inspiration in the beautiful town of Bath. But never fear! A full guide to Jane Austen in Bath will be coming soon too.
So you arrive in Bath. Hopefully you are just as eager as Catherine Morland was. Let’s get going!
“They arrived at Bath. Catherine was all eager delight—her eyes were here, there, everywhere, as they approached its fine and striking environs, and afterwards drove through those streets which conducted them to the hotel. She was come to be happy, and she felt happy already.”
– Northanger Abbey, Chapter 2
9:15 am – 35 St James Square
35 St James Square is where Dickens dwelt according to the plaque outside the residence. This was the home of his friend Walter Savage Landor. However, it is thought that he never actually spent the night here so there is some confusion as to how and why this plaque was erected here. Worth walking past to check out the plaque in any case!
Address: 35 St James’s Square, Bath, BA1 2TT, UK
9:30 am – Royal Crescent
Bath is known for its gorgeous Georgian architecture so there is no stop more beautiful on this tour than the infamous Royal Crescent. This is possibly the most impressive road in all of Bath and is featured in Austen’s novels as well as Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers.
Stroll down this road imagining all the well-to-do people who would’ve lived and paraded down here in the times of Austen and Dickens. It’s not hard to imagine the sort of crowds that informed their social commentary of their times.
“after staying long enough in the pump–room to discover that the crowd was insupportable, and that there was not a genteel face to be seen, which everybody discovers every Sunday throughout the season, they hastened away to the Crescent, to breathe the fresh air of better company.”
– Northanger Abbey, Chapter 9
Address: Royal Crescent, Bath, BA1, UK
10:00 am – Bath Old Books
Bath Old Books specialises in second hand and antiquarian books that are all in marvellous condition. It’s a very small, two-storey bookshop but it features a whole shelf of various different editions of Jane Austen’s work, which you may well like to browse if you’re a book collector.
Address: Bath Old Books, 6A Margaret’s Buildings, Bath BA1 2LP, UK
10:30 am – Bath Assembly Rooms
On your way to the Jane Austen Centre, pop your head into the Assembly Rooms. These magnificent rooms would’ve held balls back in Jane Austen’s time and the rooms have been used in numerous film and television adaptations of her novels.
The rooms are free to enter when they are open and you can admire the original chandeliers in some of the rooms!
Address: Bath Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street, Bath BA1 2QH, UK
10:50 am – Jane Austen Centre
The Jane Austen Centre is usually the highlight for a bookworm on a literary tour of Bath. Here you can find out all about Jane Austen’s short time in Bath from 1801 to 1806. There’s plenty of information about all her previous residences in Bath as well as the notable Bath landmarks that appear in her writings. Both Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are set in Bath so the focus is on these two novels.
What’s great is that all the staff at the Jane Austen Centre are characters from Austen’s books and are dressed in regency costumes. Towards the end of the exhibit there’s even the opportunity to try on a costume yourself and pose next to the handsome Mr Darcy!
Take some time to browse the gift shop which is full of Jane Austen paraphernalia that I have never seen before! Teapots disguised as bookshelves, posters containing the entire text of a Jane Austen novel, special clothbound editions and more.
There’s also the possibility of a Jane Austen Afternoon Tea in Regency Room at the Jane Austen centre. There are numerous different options to choose from with varying prices. Choose from Tea with Mr. Darcy, Champagne Tea with Mr. Darcy, Lady Catherine’s Proper Cream Tea, Mrs Bennet’s Cake of the day, Crawford’s Crumpets and more!
Opening Hours: 9:30am – 6pm
Address: Jane Austen Centre, 40 Gay St, Bath BA1 2NT, UK
Price: £12 adults, £9.50 students
12:00 pm – Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights
After all that info about Jane Austen, it’s time for some book shopping! Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights has been named one of the top independent stores in the UK numerous times and its easy to see why.
It boasts several floors of books, covering each and every topic you can think of, in a stylish and cosy setting. The children’s setting features a bath overflowing with books and upstairs you’ll find some comfy armchairs in which you can settle down and read in. There’s even free hot drinks for customers on this level!
The shop also hosts “reading spas” and “bibliotherapy” sessions. Now that’s unique!
Opening Hours: 9:30AM–6:30PM
Address: Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights, 14-15 John St, Bath BA1 2JL, UK
1:00 pm – Lunch at The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
For a light lunch, head to The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party located just around the corner from Bath Abbey. This quirky cafe in Bath is a family run tea room offering a selection of cakes, teas and light bites. The outdoor seating is inspired by the Queen of Hearts deck of cards and the table design is inspired by the White Rabbit and his little pocket watch.
You can have afternoon tea here or stop for lunch. For afternoon tea, the scones and cream come with fresh strawberries, which is a nice touch (not for me, I’m allergic! 😞). Lunch options include: paninis for £4.95, jacket potatoes for £5.95 and sandwiches, baguettes and bagels for £3.75 each.
At the counter they also have home made cakes with little “Eat Me” and “Drink Me” labels on them. The hot chocolate is must!
If you’d prefer to have a Jane Austen afternoon tea instead of lunch then skip this step and head straight to the Roman Baths, which is the step below.
Opening Hours: 10am-6pm
Address: 5 Orange Grove, Bath, BA1 1LP, England
Price: less than £10
2:30 pm – Pump Room at Roman Baths
No tour of Bath is complete without a look into the infamous Roman Baths. Whilst the baths themselves have little literary significance, you’ll want to visit the Pump Room, which now serves as a restaurant and dining room. This magnificent room was built in 1795 and is a grade 1 listed building.
The Pump Room has been used as a filming location in several film and television adaptations of Jane Austen’s works but its literary significance goes deeper than that.
Whilst most literary travellers will be aware that Austen lived and wrote in Bath, few know that Mary Shelley did too. In fact, Mary Shelley occupied a house right where the Pump Room stands today. And it was in this house that she wrote her most famous piece of work: Frankenstein. Yes, Frankenstein was written in Bath too!
You can also take afternoon tea here so if you’re still hungry after lunch then this could be an option! Prices start from £19.50pp and it is supposedly second to the Jane Austen afternoon tea in the Regency Room at the Jane Austen centre but you do get to sit in this very impressive room that Austen herself would have sat in.
Opening Hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm
Price: Roman Baths: Adult: £16.50, Pump Room: Free
Address: The Pump Room, 13 Abbey Street, Bath BA1 1LY, UK
4:00 pm – Parade Gardens
Now we’re going to go for a walk through some streets than Jane Austen would’ve frequented every day during her time in bath. First we’ll pass by Parade Gardens, which is currently home to a huge grass feature in the shape of a book! You can view this for free from the bridge above as you walk pass or you can pay £1.50 to enter the gardens and spend a bit of time relaxing in here.
Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm
Price: Adult: £1.50
Address: Parade Gardens, Bath, UK
4:15 pm – Pass by Pulteney Bridge
Continue on towards Pulteney Bridge, another of Bath’s most famous landmarks. This bridge is actually the bridge used in the recent film adaptation of Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. It is the bridge from which Javert jumps, thus ending his life. Nope, that bridge is not in Paris!
Austen spent a great deal of time in Bath at 4 Sydney Place and in order to get into the centre of town she would’ve had to cross this bridge every day.
Address: Bridge Street, Bath BA2 4AT, UK
4:25pm – Wander up Milsom Street
Continue on past the bridge and up Milsom Street, which used to be the very heart of Bath. It still is a street where you can do lots of shopping and it features in Austen’s novels. Meander up this road and imagine what it would’ve looked like during Jane Austen’s life. This road is actually largely unchanged so it shouldn’t be too difficult!
Address: Milsom Street, Bath, BA1, UK
5:00pm – Topping & Company Booksellers of Bath
Topping & Company is another fabulous bookstore in Bath that you simply can’t miss. It’s a very large store with rows and rows (and rows) of books. The layout and design of the store reminds me a lot of Daunt Books in London and there are even wooden ladders leaning on the shelves to help you reach the higher shelves.
Opening Hours: 8:30am – 7:30pm
Address: Topping & Company, The Paragon, Bath BA1 5LS, UK
5:30pm – 1 The Paragon
Before heading back down for dinner, walk a few steps further up The Paragon to 1 The Paragon. Jane Austen stayed here whilst her family looked for a more permanent place to stay in Bath. This road boasts typical Georgian architecture and the sweeping curve of sandy brick is a beautiful sight to behold (when there’s not too much traffic roaring up this road!).
Address: 1 The Paragon, Bath BA1 5LS, UK
6:00 pm – Dinner at Saracens Head Pub
Now unlike 35 St James Square, we can be certain that Dickens actually dwelt at the Saracens Head Pub in Bath. It’s the oldest pub in bath and where Dickens would stay on his visits to the city. You can no longer stay here but it still functions as a typical British pub so you can enjoy a nice meal here, a beer or two and some fun pub games!
Opening Hours: 11am – 12am
Address: Saracens Head, Bath BA1 5LP, UK
7:30 pm – The Canary Gin Bar
Finish off the night at The Canary Gin Bar by The Bath Gin Company. They offer a whopping 230 gins but book lovers will be most interested in the Cocktails of Gin Austen menu. All cocktails cost £9.
Fun Fact: This bar was once used as a filming location for Sherlock too.
Opening Hours: 3:00pm – 12:00am
Address: The Canary Gin Bar, 3 Queen Street, Bath BA1 1HE, UK
After a full day of exploring, it’s time for some rest! If you’re staying in bath for the night then head back to your hotel where you can curl up with your new read from Mr B’s Emporium and get some shut eye.
“Oh! Who could ever be tired of Bath?”
– Northanger Abbey
Where to Stay in Bath:
If you’re looking for some literary places to stay in Bath, here are some options:
Three Abbey Green in Bath has an entire floor dedicated to Austen and you can stay in the Jane Austen Wing from £110 per night. The room is white and minimalist with tall windows allowing for lots of light. It’s a bright and airy room that is perfect for a stay in bath.
Each apartment at Bath Boutique Stays is named after a character in Jane Austen’s novels, they stock Jane Austen tea and there’s a whole bookshelf filled with Austen’s works to boot. Perfect for an avid Austen fan.
Tasburgh House is one of Bath’s hidden gems. There are 17 unique rooms here named after 17 different authors. You’ll find a Dickens room, an Austen room and a Shelley room, and one of those would be absolutely perfect for a stay in Bath.
Lansdown Grove Hotel is based a little outside the centre of Bath but you can get gorgeous sweeping views of the city on your walk down each morning. There’s an excellent continental breakfast, which you can supplement with a typical hot English breakfast and you can also add on a delicious set dinner to your booking.
The hotel is absolutely gorgeous with lots of spaces for you to relax and curl up with a book, including an outdoor terrace area. Book lovers will be interested in the beautiful library in which there are newspapers, magazines and lots of comfortable chairs.
Remember, this literary tour offers but a glimpse into the Jane Austen places in Bath so keep your eyes peeled for a post all about Austen in Bath coming very soon!
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