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One of the greatest things about setting out to travel the same roads that belonged to Jane Austen’s characters is that, even though her books were written almost two centuries ago, the settings of each are almost totally unchanged. This is partly thanks to the UK’s strictly enforced listed building regulations and partly because her settings were, remarkably, mostly untouched by bombs during the war. Because of these two factors, Jane Austen pilgrims can acquaint themselves, in detail, with the pleasures of Regency life and Georgian architecture.

I only had a short period of time on my hands to explore her world whilst I was in England. So I had to think long and hard about what would be the best travel experience using Miss Austen’s work as inspiration. I ended up deciding to cover two of her novels – Northanger Abbey and Pride and Prejudice and I specifically covered the places that Catherine Morland and Elizabeth Bennet experienced whilst travelling themselves. The first stop on the agenda was Bath.
“I have hitherto been very remiss, madam, in the proper attentions of a partner here; I have not yet asked you how long you have been in Bath; whether you were ever here before; whether you have been at the Upper Rooms, the theatre, and the concert; and how you like the place altogether. I have been very negligent – but are you now at leisure to satisfy me in these particulars? If you are I will begin directly.”
Bath is a UNESCO world heritage site and is steeped in a rich history that extends beyond Regency England. Bath was originally founded by the Romans in the 1st century AD, who used the natural hot springs as a thermal spa. The city has a network of complexes which collaborates Roman and Georgian history together, and is so architecturally intact that it has long been a popular destination in England for travellers the world over.    
Adding to the above, not only is it the predominant setting for Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, it also holds value as a place that once was Jane Austen’s home. 

Near Bath, UK


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Getting there
They arrived in 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.”-
 Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, 1817

As I was currently living in Bristol at the time I set out by train from Bristol Temple Meads station, only a 15-20 min journey. For those of you wanting to plan a trip similar to this, you will most likely head to Bath from London (2 hours by coach). Either way, it will probably cost you anywhere between 5 and 20 pounds using National Express or Mega Bus.

 It will be a lovely surprise when you arrive, to see a city totally untouched by modern architecture, and any updates or modifications are strictly regulated so that everything is fit to meet the Georgian style. When I had arrived I headed out of the station and was immediately transported. Twists and turns of cobbled streets and miles of Georgian terraces. If the scenery wasn’t enough to make you feel like you had taken a step back in time, the scents that came with it certainly did. The whole city smelled like an old library, mixed with the perfumes of moss, ivy, oak and apple blossom. It was late spring, which is the best time to visit bath, so the sun was shining bright, the flowers were in bloom and the sky was a clear periwinkle blue. 

The Jane Austen Centre
The best introduction to the Bath itinerary is the Jane Austen Centre. They run tours every 30 minutes and a guide takes you through the exhibits from inside a regency period house. They talk about Jane’s daily life, Bath’s inspiration of some of her novels and the comparison between her characters and her own experiences here. Each of the rooms showcases a collection of period furniture, wardrobe items and some of Jane Austen’s personal affects. I had the pleasure of reading countless letters, from behind the glass, of personal correspondences between Jane and her family and her publishers. 

Now, I am not really one to be into museum gift shops, but as I am fairly obsessed with the works of Miss Austen, I was delighted to find special edition publications of her work and a whole range of Jane Austen memorabilia.   There is also a tea room where you can sit and enjoy a tête-à-tête upstairs. 

Admission to the center costs 11 pounds per adult. Opening times and calendar events are listed on the Jane Austen Center website
The Pump Room and Roman Baths

“With more than usual eagerness did Catherine hasten to the pump-room the next day, secure within herself of seeing Mr. Tilney…”

I adored my time at the Jane Austen Centre, but I was most excited to head to the Pump Room, where Catherine Morland would often hope to find Mr. Tilney, whilst she was accompanied by Mrs. Allen or Miss Isabella Thorpe.  It is also ideally situated overlooking the Roman Baths. 

At the top of this article, I touched on the collaboration of Roman and Georgian history, and it is predominantly here where the two cultures collide in such a bizarre and impressive way. The Pump Room has rows of double glazed windows that are almost floor to ceiling, with an incredible view of the baths. The Pump Room restaurant, which keeps a traditional regency style, was very busy, and the crisp uniformed waiters that were walking amongst the crowded tables were a sight to behold. Here we were in the present, with people texting at the table, eating in Regency England and overlooking ancient Roman baths.

You can buy tickets to see the Roman Baths next door, which are fairly expensive at 18-22 pounds, but it also allows you to visit the fashion museum (Assembly Rooms) - which was next on my list of Jane Austen sites to see.  

The Assembly Rooms and Fashion Museum 
“They made their appearance in the Lower Rooms; and here fortune was more favourable to our heroine. The master of the ceremonies introduced to her a very gentlemanlike young man as a partner; his name was Tilney. He seemed to be about four or five and twenty, was rather tall, had a pleasing countenance, a very intelligent and lively eye, and, if not quite handsome, was very near it. His address was good, and Catherine felt herself in high luck.”

So much of our Heroine Catherine Morland’s visit to Bath was spent in the Assembly Rooms and it was an incredibly strange feeling to enter here, a very real place, and take on memories from a fictional book. I enjoyed being able to compare my imagination with the real life thing. I then considered how Jane Austen herself would have enjoyed it, and I’m sure just like her characters she experienced both joy and disappointment here. I don’t want to describe the assembly rooms to much as it really came alive for me when I visited and is best left as a surprise.  Fun fact – the rooms are still available to hire for balls, concerts and private events! The basement houses the fashion museum, a historical collection of gowns and outfits from history, displayed beautifully. I headed straight to regency England, and stood fascinated there for a long time.

Parade Gardens
My last and most favorite place in Bath was the Parade Garden just off the town center. The park has a beautiful aspect of the river, which was lined with little boats and rows of flowering hedges. The road that surrounded the park sparked my imagination of stage coaches and barouche boxes that would have arrived here during Jane’s time. After peering over the banister and spotting the little tents offering cream teas by the river I decided to head down the curling Georgian steps into it. It costs money to get in, and if I recall correctly, it was 3 or 5 pounds. My accuracy on this may be a bit off, as I must admit, that I snuck in when the ticket officer wasn’t looking… It is well worth the price though if you are a more honest person.  
Getting around

You can walk almost everywhere in Bath, and definitely everywhere of note. The City can be a bit disorientating in the maze of alley’s and passages, which can make it difficult to find where you are you going. But ensuring you keep an eye out for signs and keeping a central meeting point if, you are with friends - Milsom Street is good suggestion as it’s a larger shopping street and very identifiable for Jane Austen fans from Northanger Abbey

Bath is not a cheap place, and budgeting in for activities, I would say 50-60 pounds per day is reasonable. If you plan on spending more than 1 day here, you can reduce that budget to 15 pounds. Do this by grabbing food at a Tesco’s or M&S, the Market can be a cheap option for food as well. 

Calendar Events
In September Bath hosts a 10 day Jane Austen festival, where they have workshops, readings and dances. 
There is also the Jane Austen’s Bath exhibition in October.

More Jane Austen sites 
Georgian Garden        Pultney Bridge        Milsom Street
The Royal Crescent    Blaise Castle (Between Bath and Bristol)

As I lived in Bristol, only a stone’s throw away from Bath and was on a small budget - I didn’t actually stay anywhere in Bath, however, if I could of stayed somewhere I would have stayed at Bath Boutique Stays
This was the place where Jane Austen lived when she was in Bath. If you are willing to splash out, it is the best place to reside whilst you’re stay in Bath during a Jane Austen vacation. 
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The Peak District, Derbyshire

“It is not the object of this work to give a description of Derbyshire, nor of any of the remarkable places through which their route thither lay...”

It may not have been the object of Miss Austen’s work to give a description, but it is certainly the object of this one. The countryside of Derbyshire and the Peak district is incredibly beautiful and alongside the Lake District and the Jurassic Coast in Southern England I would list it as one of my favorite places in the UK. Located at the southern end of the Pennines, the park has been used as a getaway for Northern residents of England for hundreds of years. The Peak District became the first National Park in England, which comes as no surprise as the clean air of rocky hills and moors covered in heather offered a reprieve for residents of Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham and Sheffield. Stories of dense woodland, picturesque dales and roaming herds of stags and does, made their way to London from visitors and residents much like Mrs. Gardiner and Mr. Darcy.
Like Bath, it was the Romans who first developed the area by building roads and creating a network the linked various settlements through the Peak. 
“What are men to rocks and mountains?”

Getting there 
 I once again started my journey from Bristol by train. Normally I take the Coach when travelling through the UK as it is almost always cheaper than the train with prices starting from as low as a quid – but book early enough in advance, and the train will offer brilliant views of the surrounding scenery.  I booked my train ride 3 months ahead and managed to secure my ticket to Derby for 18 pound. I would imagine it would be a relatively similar price from London with an off-peak ticket. You would depart London from St. Pancras station, and the ride takes around 1 h 30 m. If you can’t secure a cheap train ticket, I would suggest buying a coach ticket with National Express or Mega Bus for around 5 pounds one way. 

Looking out the windows, the train weaved its way around small hills and passed by frozen black lakes (it was November). The sky was a wave of contrasting greys which rather added to the charms of the surrounding scenery, making the colors of the moor and autumn leaves look vivid.  

Once I had arrived in Derby I took a connecting train to Matlock a town on the outskirts of the Peak District. This short half hour train journey cost around 6 pounds. 

 Matlock was a former Spa town, and just south of here is a place called Matlock Spa. This was the first place I wanted to visit as it connected my spring Austen journey in Bath to my autumn wanderings here.  The area also contains thermal springs and beautiful bend of terraced houses nestled underneath a woody hill which edged a watercourse of the River Derwent. The town itself is a delightful mixture of Tudor, Victorian and Georgian buildings with a splash of color here and there and Riber Castle overlooks the village. 

I spent one night here before Departing to the town of Bakewell near Chatsworth House. Accommodation is not very cheap, but you can find a B&B for around 30-50 pounds per night. If I could do this trip over I think I would have rented a campervan for the weekend from Derby. 

“He then asked her to walk into the house; but she declared herself not tired, and they stood together on the lawn. At such a time much might have been said, and silence was very awkward. She wanted to talk, but there seemed an embargo on every subject. At last she recollected that she had been travelling, and they talked of Matlock and Dovedale with great perseverance…”

Chatsworth House
Chatsworth has long been considered the real life Pemberly from Pride and Prejudice. Miss Austen wrote the book whilst she was staying in Bakewell – the village in which Chatsworth is located. But the reason Chatsworth is a particularly important site for me was inspired by film.  

My favorite Jane Austen motion picture adaptation was Pride and Prejudice (2005) with Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennet. What made me love the version so much was aside from the astounding performances by the cast, the shots and settings the director chose, really gave me a new appreciation for the beauty of England. 

The most memorable moment in the film for me, was when Elizabeth accompanied by Mr. and Mrs. Gardiner arrived at Pemberly. The books speak so fondly of the grounds at Pemberly (Chatsworth) and this was so beautifully portrayed in 2005 movie. The cool grey-blue sky, golden light, emerald green dales,  the glimmering lake reflecting the house, herds of deer galloping down the hill, flocks of birds majestically flying, lush tree lined roads and then Elizabeth’s astonishment at the sight of it all, which in true Bennet fashion, was accompanied by a short laugh.  The whole scene was breathtaking and I was so close to seeing the real thing. There is so much history, nostalgia and magnificence that comes with this house, that even if you are not a Jane Austen fan, you couldn’t fail to fall in love with it here. I will further add that I believe it is one of the most beautiful estates in all of England. 

“The park was very large, and contained great variety of ground. They entered it in one of its lowest points, and drove for some time through a beautiful wood, stretching over a wide extent. Elizabeth's mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and admired every remarkable spot and point of view. They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road, with some abruptness, wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; -- and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!”

Onward to Pemberly 
From Matlock there are regular buses running to the small market town of Bakewell. From here it is only a short journey to Goose Green in Baslow Village where you would walk for about about 10 minutes to the house. If you are driving, there is good signage to follow on the roads from Matlock that will direct you to Chatsworth.  

When I arrived at Chatsworth, I was even more enamored than I could ever believe was possible. In the early morning light, once the house was open for visitors, I happily explored the gardens. It was everything described in the books and more. The autumn colors here were astonishing, and some of nicest colors I had ever seen in England. It was beautifully complemented by rich green lawns that were glimmering in the morning light and it smelled of early morning dew. 

Once I wound my way up the stairwell from the gardens I started my tour of the house. I wouldn’t say the house is as magnificent as the grounds it stands on, but it certainly is charming. The incredible artwork and craftsmanship is apparent in every facet of the interior design. The distinct changes in style, from the furniture to the rooms, display the personal touches of 16 generations of Cavendish family.  The library and gallery are everything you would expect it to be, as was touched on in the novel. Some of the rooms, like the dining hall is rich and opulent where as other rooms are light, feminine and airy. Even if the rooms where underwhelming the views would be compensation enough. If you are musically inclined, you are offered an opportunity to play on one of the magnificent pianos, which reminds you of Georgiana Darcy. From start to finish the experience was absolutely astonishing. 

A complete adult ticket costs 23 pounds. Including the cost of transport from Matlock, the day should cost you roughly 30-35 pounds. 

Opening times 
Chatsworth house and Gardens are open from 11:00am and closes at around 06:00pm. During the winter Chatsworth house is closed - starting in January and ending in March. 

Where to eat
There are a couple of restaurants and café’s on the estate. You can buy a tea or coffee and a bite to eat for around 10 pounds at either of cafes, which is more budget friendly alternative than dining at the restaurant. 

For added authenticity to this journey you can stay at one of Chatsworth’s cottages and hotel, they are priced individually. You can find out about this accommodation at the Chatsworth accomodation page. 

chatsworth.org     megabus.com     nationalexpress.com    
janeausten.co.uk     visitbath.co.uk     visitpeakdistrict.com

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire