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.
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.
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.
For 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+.