The first Jane Austen Festival in Bath was held in September 2001 over the course of a weekend with events taking place at the Jane Austen Centre in Gay Street.
The first Promenade set out from the Jane Austen Centre in 2004 and had 30 people including most of the staff taking part. In 2009 the promenade had over 450, all in costume with drummers, dancers, military and naval men. All ages, male and female had the most wonderful time in fantastic weather.
Outstanding memories of previous festivals for us are the Film Premiere in Bath of the ‘Bollywood’ film Bride & Prejudice, the wonderful readings given by Ben Whitrow (the best ever Mr Bennet) partnered by Amanda Root (Anne Elliot) and then Joanna David (Mrs Gardiner). Superb food cooked and presented by Fiona Ravenscroft (A South West Cook of the Year) and eaten by us! 2008’s fantastic theatrical production by the Dorset Corset Theatre Company of Northanger Abbey. Plus of course the History Wardrobe with their ‘Undressing Mr Darcy’ always a hit!
2009 Festival Review
Saturday 19th September was the most magical start to any celebration ever! From the old to the very young everyone thoroughly enjoyed the opening day. At 11am sharp the Grand Regency Promenade began; well over 400 people dressed in glorious costumes took part, led by our Town Crier and escorted through the streets by the Navy and the 32nd Cornwall Regiment.
During the Promenade a stop was made at the Assembly Rooms where the promenaders gathered in the Ballroom for ten minutes to attempt to break the record for ‘The Largest gathering of people dressed in Regency costumes’. The number to beat was 200 – the final count, 412.
After the record attempt the next stop was at the Royal Crescent to ‘breathe the air of better company’ and also pose for a gigapan! This exciting piece of technology is basically a very large panoramic photograph that you can zoom in to see the finer details.
Later in the afternoon Kelly Walpole and Ian Charlesworth became husband and wife, exchanging their vows in the splendour of the old courtroom of the Guildhall with everyone, including the Registrar, dressed in Regency costumes. After the wedding the happy couple, with their military escort and followed by their guests, strolled back to the Royal Crescent where shots were fired in salute.
…and that was just the first day! Other highlights included the wonderful trip to Chawton, Dinner with Mr Jolly and a very special Country Dance.