A new addition to my library is a copy of Bath and Bristol with the Counties of Somerset and Gloucester displayed in a Series of Views etc with original drawings by Thomas Shepherd and Historical and Descriptive Illustrations by John Britton.(1829) (Do note that you can enlarge all the illustrations here by clicking on them)
I shall be posting a series of posts inspired by this book, for though it is dated 1829 it contains much material of interest for students of Jane Austen, and has copious amounts of information on Bath, Bristol and the surrounding districts
Today I thought you might care to see the entry for Beechen Cliff, which was, of course, referred to in Northanger Abbey:
They determined on walking round Beechen Cliff, that noble hill whose beautiful verdure and hanging coppice render it so striking an object from almost every opening in Bath.
and of course was known well by Jane Austen ( or indeed any inhabitant of Bath) especially when she lived within view of it at Green Park Buildings.
This map shows the position of Beechen Cliff ,(marked by the blue arrow) as delineated in a section taken from my copy of John Cary’s map of the Environs of Bath taken from the map included in his
Traveller’s Companion or a Delineation of the Turnpike Roads of England and Wales etc. (1812)
This is the engraving by Thomas Shepherd which shows the cliff looming over Bath and the river Avon: virtually the view Jane Austen would have had of it from Green Park Buildings:
And here is John Britton’s description of it:
The area enclosing the Hot Springs of Bath is surrounded by Stupendous Hills of a much quicker ascent to the south and to the east,than to the west and north; and the surface of the river Avon is, at this place, at least forty feet above that of the Severn sea towards which as it flows numerous streams are carried off to mills of various kinds. Beachen Cliff rises upwards of 360 feet above this river, on the southern side of Bath. This hiill appears from the city like a vast heap of earth, whose northern side has been undermined, and made to slip down, leaving a semicircular cliff above it; which is covered with wood. Its original name was Blake Leigh and this name is yet retained by the upper part of it. The ancient names of places were always significant; which is evinced by this instance , the name denoting fertile or cultivated land, in a bleak and exposed situation.