Museums of Bath

A young woman on the train to Bath, asked us why we needed a week here. There are so many museums and the whole town is a ‘living’ Georgian architectural museum so you need plenty of time to take it all in. There are many directories and tourist brochures on all these museums and of course websites to direct you without needing mine but this my personal overview based on one visit to each in the time frame of one week in Bath.

Jane Austen Centre

We duly visited the Jane Austen Centre. Not because we are Austen acolytes but because we thought we should see the home where she resided for a short time and where she wrote Bath into the settings of some of her books.

On the whole I was disappointed. The museum is in the basement and on display is a series of dioramas culled from whatever bits and pieces they could find. One of the rooms has some of the film footage being projected of the movies or TV series. Time is precious and I did not come to sit and watch those but wanted more insights into the way of life she led in this house. We saw nothing other than the basement and the gift shop. Its saving grace was the lively guide who gave us a lecture in the first floor lecture room. How she does this over and over and manages to convey such enthusiasm for her subject is beyond me. The Centre has a range of programs to promote and educate Austen lovers and judging their work on this display is unfair I know.

Just to add a 21st century post script, I have downloaded the App function – iBooks on my iPad and the Austen books are for free, amazing age we live in now. I have a few hard copies in my library also but this is such a convenient way to carry your library with you on travels. I also find sitting in bed at night the iPad is illuminated enough to save putting on a bed light and waking my husband.

The Building of Bath Collection
A must visit since it charts the building of today’s Bath. This is a well curated permanent exhibit of how Bath grew and changed to the heritage listed city it is today. Very good examples of the inspiration and design accompanied with actual processes employed by the craftsmen and artisans of the period that is the prevailing style that dominates today. We had this museum to ourselves and since the audio-visual introduction was not in working order we had a personal intro from the on duty manager.
Bath is so very easy on the eye, all that soft colored stone everywhere. It allows you to appreciate the creative flourishes of the individual owners in the door knockers, flower boxes and the wrought iron balustrades and entries. This museum is housed in a deconsecrated chapel built by the Countess of Huntingdon worth a look also is the interactive large model of the city.

No 1 The Royal Crescent

We are fortunate to be staying in one of the most significant landmark buildings of Bath. At No 1 The Royal Crescent there is a house that was purchased by a philanthropist so it could be restored for sharing with the public. Voluntary guides are in each room and hand you information sheets so you can read in your own time the details of the contents of each room. We found every guide helpful and willing to engage in a discussion or illuminate a particular work of art or decoration.

No photos allowed inside so I bought the small publication from where this photo is taken. For further information visit the http://www.bath-preservation-trust.org.uk

Fashion Museum and Assembly Rooms

I enjoyed this museum, the collection includes clothing from various periods and the special exhibition when I visited was a collection of dresses worn by Princess Diana. The entry cost included the special exhibition. I was also able to buy a double entry ticket here to the Roman Baths museum and saved some money.So disappointed I could not take photos to show you of the Diane Dresses. I will do another post just on the Fashion Museum so keep your email address in my subscription field.

The Assembly Rooms in the same building are used for a range of functions, weddings, exhibitions and the chandeliers in these rooms are among the brightest and best I have ever seen.

One of the rooms, in the centre room had several fireplaces, one in the centre of each wall. There are some lovely old Bath chairs on display here, the Bath chairs were used to convey the well off around town. When not in use they were stored inside the hall and looked quite grand.

Roman Baths Museum

Thermal waters are the main reason Bath was a centre of relaxation and rejuvenation. An ancient spa built by the Romans right in the middle of Georgian Bath. A communal bath house that was in full use by the Romans around 2,000 years ago. Even though we have seen many Roman remains, old bathhouses etc, we enjoyed this museum and it really is a must on a first visit to Bath. There are a few actors playing the parts of craftsmen and other actors were employed for the films they project on the walls to help you imagine the activities of the Romans in the bath houses.

The Museum of East Asian Art

A private collection that is worth seeing for the snuff bottles and carved ivory figurines alone. Also on show were black and white photographs taken in Vietnam by one of its Trustees. Worthy of the museum not nepotism.

I have hundreds more photos but I hate getting very long posts on blogs myself so will add more visuals on separate posts. Roz


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  1. #1 by Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial on September 8, 2010 - 7:52 pm

    I’m really enjoying this series of posts – thanks Roz! Fascinating stuff and the photos are wonderful!

  2. #2 by Anna Johnston on September 9, 2010 - 1:09 am

    Ditto to Celia above. Loving your adventures in Bath.

  3. #3 by Debra Kolkka on September 9, 2010 - 10:05 am

    Thanks for the info. I have been to a couple of these places,but it was a while ago.

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