I join with you in wishing for the environs of Laura Place, but do not venture to expect it. My mother hankers after the Square dreadfully, and it is but natural to suppose that my uncle will take her part. It would be very pleasant to be near Sydney Gardens; we might go into the labyrinth every day.
Jane Austen to Cassandra
Wednesday, January 21, 1801
Sydney Gardens is the oldest park in the City of Bath. Planned and laid out by the architect Harcourt Masters in 1795, it quickly became a popular place to see and be seen by the ever arriving crowds of fashionable people freqenting the city. In 1909 the gardens were purchased by the city and in the same year a replica of the Temple of Minerva was built to commemorate the Bath Historical Pageant.
The Gardens were reached via the Sydney Hotel, in Sydney Place, at the end of Great Pultney Street. In 1801, the Austens, newly arrived in Bath, took lodgings at Number 4, Sydney Place, directly opposite the gardens. In describing their location to her sister, Jane Austen jokingly wrote, ‘There is a public breakfast in Sydney Gardens every morning, so we shall not be wholly starved.’ The public breakfast was only one of the many attractions the Gardens had to offer. Small orchestras performed on the balcony overlooking the grounds, and dining boxes, “a series of little shelters where private groups could take refreshments throughout the