It is the bleak midwinter, cold and dark, and, siting here in Darkest Lincolnshire what I am really desiring is a little quiet cheerfulness. I could do worse than to emulate Lady Russell of Persuasion and take a little sojourn in Bath:
When Lady Russell, not long afterwards, was entering Bath on a wet afternoon, and driving through the long course of streets from the Old Bridge to Camden Place, amidst the dash of other carriages, the heavy rumble of carts and drays, the bawling of newsmen, muffin-men, and milk-men, and the ceaseless clink of pattens, she made no complaint. No, these were noises which belonged to the winter pleasures: her spirits rose under their influence; and like Mrs. Musgrove, she was feeling, though not saying, that after being long in the country, nothing could be so good for her as a little quiet cheerfulness.
However, I can’t to do this in reality as I have duties to fulfill,and so do you, I suspect. So, shall we shall visit Lady Russell’s (and Anne Elliot’s ) winter pleasures in Bath digitally. Shall we? Yes, let’s…
Lady Russell and Anne Elliot travelled to Bath from Kellynch Lodge which was probably near to the market town of Crewkherne in Somersetshire from the evidence in the text of Persuasion .Here, below, is their most likely route, delineated in red, and which would have taken them from Crewkherne (1) to Bath (2) via Glastonbury and Wells. This map of Somerset by John Cary is taken from my copy of his Travellers Companion of 1812: (Do note you can enlarge all the illustrations here by simply clicking on them)
The market town of Crewkherne was probably the first place where Lady Russell’s carriage horses were changed on the journey. This would allow her groom or other servant to take her horses back to her stables at Kellynch Lodge. Horses could be hired at inns along the route,and were probably changed every 20 or so miles. The next change would probably take place at Glastonbury, famed now for rock concerts, but then for its fine ruined abbey. Here it is below,taken from my copy of the Somerset volume of The Beauties of England and Wales by the Reverend J Nightingale (1813):
According to Cary’s Travellers Companion(1812) there were two inns at Glastonbury : the White Hart, opposite the Abbey, which dated from the 15th century and still exists, and the George Inn in the High Street. This is a view of the centre of the town also from The Beauties of England and Wales. It shows the George Inn, which also still exists( it is the building with the sign hanging from it, on the left.
I wonder which inn Lady Russell chose ? I should imagine Anne Elliot liked the antiquity of the place…
This is a description of the town from the same volume:
THis town is situated in the Isle of Avalon so called from its apples or from Avallac a British chief said to have first pitched his residence here..Like Wells Glastonbury is indebted for its origin to its monastic institutions which claim the hour of having existed from a period nearly coeval with Christianity. According to the monkish annuals Glastonbury was first instituted by St Joseph of Arimathea who buried the body of our Saviour, and whom Phillip the apostle of Gaul sent to preach the gospel in Britain….
The next interesting place on their route would have been Wells, again the home of a famous abbey
The town of Wells situated in the hundred of Well’s-Forum, is said to have been at one time the first city in the county of Somerset. Even at this day though far inferior to Bath in splendour of appearance and fashionable elegance, it has considerable claims to the attention of the topographer and possesses many charms for the lover of social retirement…Wells is very pleasantly situated under the Mendip Hills which recede from it in the form of an amphitheatre sheltering it to the north, while fertile and extensive meadows range themselves to the south…the Cathedral is in the form of a cross…
Leaving Wells, the journey to Bath would be a distance of about 20 miles. Anne Elliot and Lady Russell would approach the city from the south, having the upper town before them as in this view taken from my copy of A Guide to all the Watering and Sea-Bathing Places by R. Phillips (1803).
They crossed the Old Bridge, the old medieval bridge shown below (as opposed to the new Pulteney Bridge which gave access to the new developments in Bathwick).
This is the immediate view of the bridge that they may have seen from their carriage:
Here you can se the bridge crossing the River Avon on this section of the map of Bath dating from 1803
They then made their way through the noisy lower reaches of Bath till they reached the elegant Upper Town,
where Anne Elliot was deposited at Camden Crescent , that place that held the cold welcome of her odious father, sister and the foul Mrs Clay…..
while the luckier Lady Russell went back downhill to her solitary but elegant lodgings in Rivers Street, shown here looking towards the Upper Rooms in Bennet Street.
And when we and they are rested, we will visit some of the places that constituted their Winter Pleasures in Bath.