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The Jane Austen Festival, Bath

August 29, 2011

Royal Crescent

Browsing through a magazine website, a few years ago, I was delighted to discover Jane Austen’s Regency World.  I subscribed without hesitation!  On receiving my first copy, I read it from cover to cover then ordered back numbers.

It was in one of these magazines that I had discovered an advertisement for the Jane Austen Festival…my attention was grabbed!  When?  Where??  September…in Bath.  Great!  Bath wasn’t that far from my mother-in-law who lives in Trowbridge…I had to go! 

What's this??

It wasn’t until 2007 that we got to go to Bath for the Grand Regency Promenade, and what an awesome day we had…even Robert and his mum enjoyed it!  While we were there, they were filming for the Crazy About Jane DVD…

Crazy About Jane DVD

The first Jane Austen Festival was held in 2001 and, according to the Jane Austen Centre’s website, was held over a weekend.  A year later there are nine days packed with theatre, music, walks, tours, food, dance, lectures, and more, and the same again in 2003.

2004 saw the first Grand Regency Promenade, which started from the Jane Austen Centre in Gay Street, headed up to the Circus, and thence to the Royal Crescent where promenaders were treated to light refreshments at The Royal Crescent Hotel…

Festival highlights

Also, a special screening of the hit Bollywood film Bride and Prejudice, with an introduction from the director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham), who also answered questions afterwards.

In 2005 there were twice as many promenaders…over eighty.  Since then the festival has gone from strength to strength with a string of famous faces taking part:  Amanda Root (Anne Elliot in Persuasion), Ben Whitrow (Mr Bennet in Pride and Prejudice), Adrian Lukis (Wickham in Pride and Prejudice), Joanna David (Mrs Gardiner in Pride and Prejudice), Deborah Moggach (novelist and screenwriter), Leslie Carroll (actress and novelist). 

As I have previously mentioned, we got to see the 2007 promenade, take a lot of photos and meet some very interesting people…

Elegant ladies in The Circus

Steps in Time in The Circus

In 2008 the promenade culminated in a country fair that was held in Queen Square.  We didn’t go this year, for some reason.

Anyway, I finally got my costume made and joined the promenaders in 2009…

Rachel, Natalia, and the madwoman

That is one promenade that will always be special to me, as it was the day when four of us WLS friends met in person for the first time…Eileen, Rachel, Natalia, and myself.  A very special day indeed…and Rachel and I joined over four hundred other promenaders in setting a new Guinness world record, at the Assembly Rooms, for the largest number of people in one place in Regency costume…previously set at over two hundred. 

Outside the Pump Room

Queen Square

Last year, 2010, I spent so long over Robert’s costume, that I didn’t have enough time to work on my own, so I ended up looking like Worzelina Gummidge!!  As I was still trying to get costumes finished, we ended up leaving late, arriving after the promenaders had already set off, but we managed to join in as they filed past and ended up having a brilliant day anyway.

Mrs Gummidge and the elegant ladies

Robert, hiding a secret!

Mrs Gummidge and Rhiannon

Mingling in Royal Crescent

Adrian eats cake in the Guildhall

We still haven’t experienced any of the other delights that the festival has to offer, and I would love to go to a ball…Farthingales (fancy dress hire) holds a ball on the last weekend of the festival, and the Jane Austen Centre hold a ball during the summer…one day… 

4 Comments leave one →
  1. hilary donaldson permalink
    September 3, 2011 10:56 am

    will you be wearing your cream spencer, i think i will recognize you from the photos, i will be wearing a bronze coloured dress orange spencer if its finished or old brown and yellow one

  2. September 3, 2011 11:02 am

    Hi Hilary…new white spencer is under construction at the moment…will post a blog about it shortly. I am also hoping to add a new flounced hem to my maroon striped dress, as I don’t have time to make a new dress. 😦

    Two weeks and counting! Excitement is growing…as is the sense of panic. I will look out for you…!

  3. October 8, 2011 4:31 pm

    HI Sandi
    It is Ellen from Horncastle —did not know you had your own site WELL DONE

    • October 9, 2011 7:18 pm

      Hi Ellen
      I used to have a blog on Windows Live Spaces before they closed it all down. Now I have three…one on Blogger, and two on WordPress )(this one, and Diary of a Madwoman)

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