Persuasions #7, 1985 Pages 55-57
Jane Austen’s Bath
IDENTIFIED BY MAGGIE LANE
A. Pulteney Street, where Mr. and Mrs. Allen and Catherine Morland had lodgings.
B. Edgar’s Buildings (a terrace of houses on the north side of George Street where the Thorpes lodged.
C. The Tilney’s lodgings in Milsom Street.
D. The archway leading between shops from the Abbey Churchyard, or Pump-yard, opposite Union Passage.
E. “Everybody acquainted with Bath may remember the difficulties of crossing Cheap Street at this point.” Union Street was not constructed until 1807, so to reach Edgar’s Buildings from the Pump Room, Catherine and Isabella had to use Union Passage—now for pedestrians only.
F. Walcott Church, mentioned by John Thorpe who has just passed it on his way into the city from Oxford, and chiefly interesting to us because Jane’s parents were married there in 1764, and her father buried there in 1805.
G. The point where Thorpe, turning from Edgar’s buildings down Broad Street on his way to Pulteney Street, claims to have seen the Tilneys turning up Lansdown Road. Broad Street, which is in fact one of the narrowest streets in Bath, is now one-way, so Thorpe’s route would today be impossible. Lansdown Road is also the hill which Anne Elliot has to toil up to reach her father’s lodgings in Camden Place (now Camden Crescent).
H. The first part of the route taken by John Thorpe and Catherine on their journey towards Bristol. “They passed briskly down Pulteney Stree and through Laura Place . . . As they entered Argyle Buildings, however,” they see the Tilneys waking towards Pulteney Street to meet Catherine, who begs Thorpe to stop. “But to what purpose did she speak?—Thorpe only lashed his horse into a brisker trot; the Tilneys, who had soon ceased to look after her, were in a moment out of sight round the corner of Laura Place, and in another moment she was herself whisked into the Market Place” (now occupied by the Guildhall and covered market).
I. Site of the old theatre in Orchard Street, where Henry Tilney paid his respects to Catherine in her box, and she disarmed him with her naiveté The Lower Rooms, where she first met Henry, were situated where the figure 6 is shown (long since demolished) and the Upper Rooms, where she suffered such a crush on her first venture into public, and where on a second occasion the Thorpes and the Tilneys arranged to meet in the Octagon Room (the ante-room, sometimes used for cards) are now known simply as the Assembly Rooms and are shown at No. 10.
J. The Royal Crescent, where it was the custom to stroll about on Sunday afternoons. Here Thorpe tells the Tilneys that Catherine must break her second engagement to walk with them; she resolves to run after them to undo this piece of rudeness. “Thorpe told her it would be in vain to go after the Tilneys; they were turning the corner into Brock Street, where he had overtaken them, and were at home by this time.” Catherine persists, however, “quickening her pace when she got clear of the Crescent, she almost ran over the remaining ground till she gained the top of Milsom Street” (at least it’s downhill all the way).
K. The walk eventually accomplished by Catherine and the Tilneys to Beechen Cliff. “They walked along the side of the river,” still a lovely walk today, and the steepness of the final stretch up to Beechen Cliff is a small price to pay for the magnificent view of the honey-coloured city in its cradle—even though Catherine, “when they gained the top of Beechen Cliff . . . voluntarily rejected the whole city of Bath, as unworthy to make a part of the landscape.”
L. Bond Street, where Catherine, shopping for lace, “overtook the second Miss Thorpe, as she was loitering towards Edgar’s Buildings.”
M. And finally, Jane Austen’s own home, from 1801 to 1804, at No. 4 Sydney Place, opposite Sydney Gardens. The stonework of Sydney Place has recently been cleaned and it now appears as Jane would have known it, having lain under a thick coating of soot for most of this century. Between 1804 and 1806 the Austens rented a series of houses in Green Park Buildings, Gay Street and Trim Street, all of which are named on the map. Earlier, Jane had stayed in a house on the southwest corner of Queen Square, on holiday with her brother Edward, and had often visited her Uncle and Aunt Leigh Perrot in their home at No. 1, The Paragon.