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A museum looking at Bath's most well-known resident

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At the age of 25, Jane Austen and her family moved away from their familiar home in Steventon, Hampshire. Their destination was Bath, a big and fashionable city. The switch from small village to huge town had a dramatic effect on the entire family. All of a sudden, Jane found herself thrust into a world of stylish parties and dances, surrounded by the cream of English society.
This significant change in the author's life was to have a similarly large effect on her writing. She grew to know the city intimately, and began to write stories here. Two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, were set almost entirely within the city.
Jane Austen is now considered to be Bath's most famous resident. She lived here between 1801 and 1806 and, in recognition of this time, a museum was created. Appropriately enough, it's situated in the very same street that the Austen family once lived in.
The museum will teach you about the events of Jane's life, both within and outside of the city. You'll also discover what society was like back then, in the Regency period of British history. However, the major focus is on Bath, and the years Jane spent here. More specifically, the museum looks at the dramatic effect that the city had on her, and her writing.

Inside the Jane Austen Centre
Photo Ben Sutherland
The Centre tells its tales using a variety of media, including films, maps, and costumes. Upstairs there's a Regency-themed tearoom that could've been taken straight out of the 1800s. It serves a traditional English high tea, just like Jane and her characters often enjoyed.
If you want to dive even deeper into 19th century English life, then make sure to visit at the end of September. You'll find hundreds of people dressing up in period costume, as part of the annual Jane Austen Festival. The event was started by the museum in the year 2000, and since then it has grown and grown. The week-long celebrations include theatre, dancing and a country fair. It's officially the planet's largest gathering of people in Regency attire, as certified by the Guinness Book of World Records. In 2009, one couple liked their period clothing so much that they got married in it!
Being in a room filled with hundreds of costumed people can really make you feel like you've stepped back in time. On the other hand, Bath is a place that hasn't really changed all that much in the last 200 years. If Jane Austen paid a visit here today, she'd probably find much of it to be extremely familiar.
Visitor Information
The Jane Austen Centre is open daily, 9.45am to 5.30pm (11am to 4.30pm winter weekdays). Entry costs around £7 for adults, £4 child. Tel: 01225 443018

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