I was recently lucky enough to go to the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, where we took part in the world record attempt to gather the highest number of people in Regency dress in one place. I will attempt to share the experience through an authentic letter…
My Dear Sister,
What an excellent few days we have enjoyed in Bath! I declare I am quite exhausted from the unrelenting gaiety. This time passed in a whirl of parties and engagements, so many interesting people met and acquaintances made. I will try to faithfully set down all the events as they occurred, forgive my interjections of delight when I lapse into hyperbole.
Friday 12th September
As you know, I had an engagement in Bristol early on Friday, which included an introduction to delightful Miss T, an extremely capable young lady who appears to be in charge of a large number of gentlemen merchants in that fine city. Some women were also in attendance, presumably representing their husbands’ interests, although they spoke with great authority and conviction, so perhaps they are permitted to attend such gatherings in the West Country as merchants themselves?
Unbeknownst to me, the appalling Mr W had also been invited, but I was fortunately seated far from his reptilian advances. I exchanged a few pleasantries with him at the close of the event, but I remained safe from molestation on this occasion. I bid adieu to Bristol, and set forth to Bath, my spirits in a state of growing anticipation.
On arrival in Bath, I was struck by a ravening hunger, so stopped at a roadside establishment for a burger of cheese, accompanied by fried potatoes sliced into batons in the French style. Proceeding to the inn of Mr and Mrs Premier was fatiguing, as a local institution for the education of youth was concluding its studies for the day, and the pavements were thronged with gaily dressed individuals, cheerily pushing each other into the paths of oncoming vehicles.
The Premiers’ inn proved to be as delightful as we have come to expect, clean, quiet, and staffed by respectful young folk. I must confess that, at this point, I retired for a few hours, in order to restore my senses for the evening’s activities. Mr Frocksandbikes (hereafter Mr F) was arriving on a later railed carriage, so I was able to gather my strength and issue forth into Bath to meet him. We returned to the inn, and dressed for our late supper engagement.
We proceeded to Sydney Gardens, whereupon we were delighted to meet with several fashionable members of the Carlton Set. We made the acquaintance of several fine members of Napoleonic Association, in their most marvellous civilian attire. We were made to feel very welcome, despite Mr F’s representation of the common soldiery. The supper of pie, dessert, and champagne was so very agreeable, enjoyed by candlelight in a small structure in the Gardens. We were clearly not the first to use the folly, as others had inscribed their thoughts on the wall. However, one struggles to comprehend the meaning of ‘Mike Big Paedo’ and ‘I love ukuleles’ out of context of the relevant occasion. At ten, we said our goodbyes and strolled back to the inn, stopping only for a couple to take our photograph, and comment in a broad Irish accent, “Nice hat Mister Darcy” to Mr F.
To be continued…