As you are all aware, Jane Austen lived in Bath from 1801-1806. Her first home in the city was one she shared with her parents, the Reverend and Mrs Austen and her sister, Cassandra. It was a fine house, Number 4 Sydney Place, which was then on the outskirts of Bath. You may recall that last year I wrote about an apartment in this house that had come onto the market.
The Austens favoured living here for the situation not only had the advantage of being near to the open countryside, so necessary to such a desperate walker as Jane Austen avowedly was, but the house also overlooked the Sydney Gardens, shown below in a view from the first floor apartment :
The Sydney Gardens were a Vauxhall or pleasure garden where Jane Austen thought
It would be very pleasant to be near Sidney Gardens-we might go into the Labrinth every day…
(See: Letter to Cassandra Austen,dated 21st January 1801)
and they are now a very pleasant open air space. What was the Sydney Hotel is now the fabulous and vibrant Holburne Museum, which has recently re-opened after a marvellous programme of refurbishment and extension. The apartment on sale has now been purchased and has become available to all to rent as a holiday let from the holiday let company,Bath Boutique Stays.
It has been substantially modernised but the original feature have been kept. It sleeps four people , and has two bedrooms.
The owners have added some amusing “Austen” touches, as you can see from the photographs they have provided for me:
As you may recall from her description in her book, Jane Austen, Her Homes and Her Friends (1923), Constance Hill liked the first floor of the house very much. There was a beautiful drawing-room, which was sunny, airy and light:
4 Sydney Place has four stories plus a basement The ground floor has an entrance hall and two rooms: the front room would have been the parlour and dining room used for everyday entertainment and the rear room would most likely have been Mr Austen’s study. On the first floor there is a magnificent drawing room covering the full area of the house which looks south over Sydney Gardens; the windows are large and it is a very sunny room.
This is incorporated into the new apartment to let, and, as you can see from the photographs, it still enjoys that sunny aspect overlooking the gardens. I must admit, I’m considering re-jigging my travel plans for next year, as I would love the opportunity to actually stay, for however short a time, in a house where Jane Austen actually lived.
Racking my memory, it would appear to be an almost unique prospect…..Steventon Rectory is now demolished, Chawton Cottage is now a museum, her home in Southampton no longer exists; Stoneleigh Abbey is a now series of private homes and Godmersham is the home of the Association of British Dispensing Opticians College…I don’t think any of the places she stayed in London apart from Henry’ Austens home in Upper Berkeley Street (which is now an hotel) are available for use as lets. And as for Bath, well, you can stay in a holiday let in Trim Street, but we do not know exactly where in Trim Street Jane Austen actually lived. Her home in Gay Street is a private house, and her home in Green Park West -where her father died in January 1805- was destroyed during bombing in World War II, though it has been rebuilt. So, this really is a fabulous opportunity to live for a short while in a place where Jane Austen spent nearly four years of her life.