Strictly Jane Austen

December in Bath with Jane


In December 1801 Jane’s father rented a gracious modern home opposite Bath’s Sydney Hotel, a popular venue for balls, displays and illuminations. Here, Jane would have enjoyed a quieter Christmas as her father was retired from his Ministry, but the city offered wonderful entertainment. There were two sets of Assembly rooms for Jane to dance in, as well as the Guildhall, where the beautiful banqueting room with its fabulous chandeliers, would have played host to an elegant company.

jane Austen Christmas

As well as balls there was the theatre and music to enjoy. Jane and her family were keen theatregoers and Bath’s historic theatre offered Shakespeare, pantomimes and farces. The famous musician Rauzzini with his concerts and singers was here, and in the magnificent Upper Rooms, Mr. King was there to see all the young ladies had partners.

Sydney Gardens was a favourite haunt of Jane’s and she might well have been tempted by the pastries on offer at the Garden’s public breakfasts – sugar buns, rich, continental Sally Lunn buns, sugared almonds, pastries, minced pies, cremes and, occasionally, even ice creations. We like to picture her, warmly wrapped against the cold and wearing stout boots, walking in a wintry wonderland of frosty trees and bushes decorated with glittering cobwebs. As she watches skaters glide over the frozen canal, her head is filled with words…. the words of her next novel. 

Christmas iceskating

Discover more about Jane Austen’s Bath on one of our fascinating guided walking tours.