If you are a Jane Austen fan and have visited the city of Bath, then it is highly likely you own a photo similar to this one (in fact, if you were there with friends or family, you are probably standing in the photo as well, beside this very well-known door!)
Now you can do something more than this, something I have always wished to do – you can open the door and cross the threshold! Even more exciting, you can stay at 4 Sydney Place! Yes – you can live in Jane Austen’s Bath home, as it has been beautifully renovated and is now available all year round as a holiday let!
The house can be hired either as one (for larger groups of friends or families) or you can just take one of the four lovely apartments instead (one per floor).
Last week, I had the chance to do just that, spending two days and nights in the ground floor garden apartment (yes – you can sit in Jane Austen’s garden too!!)
The house has been brought fully up to date with all the conveniences you would want in a holiday rental: well-equipped kitchens with built-in appliances, up to date and immaculate shower rooms and a large comfortable bed in which to lie back and dream of Mr Darcy! However, this has been a truly sympathetic updating.
The house retains many original features, including the wooden shutters on the windows, ceiling roses and cornices, bell pulls and beautiful etched glass panels in the hallway.
Not only are the furnishings of a high quality, but there are some lovely touches too, such as the old-fashioned tea set in the kitchen cupboard (and yes, there is a teapot, so you can make a proper cup of tea and enjoy it in the garden surrounded by rambling roses!) and beautiful bits and pieces dotted here and there, all enhancing the feeling of staying amidst a real piece of history.
Bath Boutique Stays, the company responsible for the renovation of the property (which has formerly been offices and student flats in recent years), manages the house/apartments, all of which are maintained to a very high standard.
Fellow Austen Variations author, Jane Odiwe, and I had the opportunity to sit down with Marcus Whittington, one of the Directors of Bath Boutique Stays, last week. He and his wife, Hana – also a Director – consider themselves ‘guardians’ of the house, and they are keen to welcome as many Jane Austen fans as possible to share in this incredibly atmospheric experience.
During our chat, Marcus also shared some tales of discovery from the renovation of 4 Sydney Place! When they first went up into the attic, the roof void was piled high with rubble – two tonnes of it! Why, during some earlier work on the property, these waste materials were taken upstairs rather than out of the front door and disposed of, no one knows, but in the attic there was also a surprising find – an old pot, blackened with age.
The pot was meticulously cleaned and turned out to be a beautiful and elegant silver coffee pot. It now has pride of place on the lovely large wooden table in the drawing room of Emma’s Garden Apartment. I like to think it once belonged to the Austen family, don’t you?
On one of the walls of the bedroom in the same apartment there is a heavy black metal door with a brass knob. What is it, Jane and I had wondered? Was it an old bread oven? Was this room, to the rear of the former parlour, once a kitchen? Marcus had the answer, and another tale to share about it!
The safe was discovered concealed behind a false wall, and no matter what they tried, the door would not yield; even the locksmith who was eventually called in to try and break into it struggled to open it. However, at some extensive cost the door was finally breached, only to reveal one solitary treasure lurking inside. Was it a lost manuscript? Was it a piece of jewellery? A pile of coins? No – it was a monkey nut, perfectly preserved in its shell! As Marcus pointed out, Jane Austen would no doubt love the irony of spending so much money for ‘peanuts’! And who knows – perhaps it was a member of the Austen family who planted it there!
So there you have it! If you want to live for a while in Jane Austen’s home, follow this link, where you will find lots of photographs and information on how to book your stay, along with the chance to take up the Jane Austen ‘package’ which includes chilled Prosecco and bespoke cupcakes freshly made for your arrival, entry into the world-renowned Jane Austen Centre, a 90-minute walking tour of Jane Austen’s Bath with a local guide, a traditional Somerset afternoon cream tea in the Regency tea rooms and a locally-made, hand-poured, organic Jane Austen candle to take home!
Grab your chance for a truly Austen-inspired experience!!
(All photos are my own, other than the really good ones which were taken by the lovely Mr Romanus Odiwe!)