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Jane Austen’s Bath Home Restored With Sense & Sensibility

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!

Jane Austen, Pride & Prejudice

In 1801, George Austen retired as rector of Steventon in Hampshire and relocated to Bath. The couple had married there nearly forty years previously and had family in the area. In tow were their two unmarried daughters, Cassandra Elizabeth and Jane; being an affluent and fashionable city, the Austens may have also been hoping to find a couple of single men in possession of good fortunes for their daughters.

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The search for a suitable property was long and arduous – Westgate Buildings was ‘in the lower part of the town’, Laura Place was ‘above our price’ and of Axford’s Buildings Jane wrote, ‘we all unite in particular dislike of that part of the town’. Eventually the family found a townhouse on Sydney Place which suited their requirements. For a family used to the natural landscapes of rural Hampshire, it offered views of the surrounding countryside and was positioned opposite Sydney Gardens, with its labyrinth of which Jane was particularly fond.

Some two hundred or so years later, Sydney Place still retains the period charm and splendour that would have been present in the Austen family home, as well as many original features such as fireplaces and cornices. In the ground floor room which would once have served as George Austen’s study, recent building work uncovered a cast iron safe set into the wall which would have certainly housed family documents and perhaps even the odd early Austen manuscript.

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Every floor of the house from the ground floor up has now been tastefully refurbished to include modern comforts whilst acknowledging its Georgian heritage. The ground floor, once a stately dining room and study, now forms an elegant one bedroom apartment with access to a private garden. The first floor, originally a magnificent drawing room spanning the entire width of the building, now also houses a handsome one bedroom apartment with tall sash windows which overlook the Holburne Museum and still provide glimpses of the open countryside which once would have been so apparent. The second floor would have consisted of the Austens’ bedrooms, whilst the top floor housed the servants’ sleeping quarters; both levels now comprise generously sized apartments.

All of the apartments have been beautifully furnished by Bath Boutique Stays and include artwork and literature about Jane Austen herself. If you would like to experience the Austen’s house for yourself, you can arrange a stay with Bath Boutique Stays. More information about this can be found by clicking the Bath Boutique Stays logo below.

Bath Boutique StaysFor further information about Jane Austen and her time in Bath, we heartily recommend the Austenonly blog which contains a stunning wealth of information. If you have stayed at Jane Austen’s Bath home, or are interested in her life in the city, please do get in touch with us either on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

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Pétanque: Bath’s Incredi-boules Second Sport

Image credit: flickr.com/bathintime

Anyone trying to argue that rugby is not Bath’s sport of choice can expect to incur the wrath of a city proud of a heritage that will be 150 years old next year. However, within drop-kicking distance of The Rec, a second ‘sport’ grips the residents of Bath to such extents that its players can often be seen plying the gravelled playing areas until the dark hours of most summer evenings.

Rather less physical and more well-mannered than its oval-ball counterpart, pétanque has long since been established as a popular pastime for the Bathonian who would rather choose gin over gym. The game is enduringly sociable, affably competitive and is often played with an eye on closing time at the nearest hostelry. The only scrum is the knot of furrowed foreheads knitted together over a cluster of tightly grouped boules, desperately trying to fathom which sphere has crept closest to the tiny coche.

Across Bath, several gravel pistes host competitive matches throughout the summer. Serene Alexandra Park, on Bear Flat, is known as a luscious deep playing area with spectacular views over the city, whilst the sparse and unreliable surfaces within busy Queen Square often draw intrigued spectators, many of whom are foreign to the city and are captivated by this quintessentially French yet somehow very English game. A new floodlit terrain is currently being developed at Larkhall Sports Club, with the help of a £23,185 grant from Sport England. Such luxuries will be warmly welcomed by anyone who has ever relied on passing car headlights when completing a closely-fought game in the dark.

As well as summer-long leagues which often provoke Bath vs. Gloucester levels of rivalry and sportsmanship, a two day affair in the midst of summer has become a popular tradition and a raging success. Bath Boules is a non-profit event that raises money for local charities; it has become so popular with local boules teams and businesses that online registration for this year’s competition was open for just one hour before all of the places had been snapped up. Based in Queen Square, the games spill over onto the rugged footpaths and mossy arteries which sprawl around the bustling arena. Pleasingly sponsored by, amongst others, Champagne Jacquart, the weekend represents all that is brilliantly social, fun and slightly eccentric about the game.

As for Reside, we have a band of five fearless, if rather erratic, boules joueurs who compete in Bath’s Thursday League. We are also proud to be a sponsor of Bath Boules 2014, and look forward to being involved in this fantastic tradition for the first time this year.

Those wishing to investigate this genteel, good-natured and entertaining recreation can visit The City of Bath Pétanque Club’s website where more information can be found about how to join in.

If you happen to see our fleet of five pétanque pros gathered in Queen Square, trying to claw their way back from the brink of another defeat against one of the seasoned campaigners who we often find ourselves up against, please do pop by to watch and say hello. We also post weekly updates on our progress on Twitter because this is Bath’s second sport, after all.

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