Photo by Owen Benson, courtesy of Jane Austen Festival

Poets, Writers and Dreamers

A literary route in the footsteps of Jane Austen & the Romantics

Day 1

A day in Jane Austen's shadow

Austen lived in Bath from 1801 to 1806 and set two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, in the city.

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Courtesy of Jane Austen Centre

Jane Austen Centre

The first logical stop in this itinerary is the centre dedicated to Jane Austen. The exhibits and guides provide an excellent insight into the author and her works, it also details her family and the historical context in which she lived.

Venue information
  • Walk 5 mins
Courtesy of Visit Bath

En route

On leaving, cross the road to the Gravel Walk: a secluded, gently rising path that Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot took when they were finally reconciled in Austen's last novel, Persuasion.

Courtesy no.1 Royal Crescent

No. 1 Royal Crescent

Before entering the museum, take a moment to marvel at the sweeping elegance of the Royal Crescent, one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture anywhere in the world, which remains virtually unchanged since it was built in 1767.

Inside, explore the house which recreates in every detail how Georgian daily life was spent, both for the fashionable members of society upstairs and those toiling below stairs.

Venue information
  • Walk 5 mins
Photo by Lee Brady

En route

Head down Brock Street through the magnificent Circus, one of architect John Wood’s masterpieces.

Courtesy of Colin Hawkins

Assembly Rooms

These elegant rooms were at the heart of Regency social life - the place to dance, gossip, flirt, intrigue, gamble, and most importantly see and be seen. They remain just as Jane would have known them, complete with their magnificent chandeliers.

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Photo by Paolo Ferla

Fashion Museum

Also housed in the Assembly Rooms is the Fashion Museum, a world-class collection of historic and contemporary dress. The exhibits and tours give a wonderful insight into the history of the clothes and the people who wore them.

Venue information
  • Walk 15 mins
Photo by Paolo Ferla

En route

Promenade down Milsom Street, Bath’s fashionable shopping street. Look out for the faded original shop signs and ads, including one for a ‘Circulating Library and Reading Room'.

Day 2

Romantic Bristol

With its reputation for political and cultural dissent and debate, Georgian Bristol attracted key figures in the Romantic Movement, with the poets Thomas Chatterton, William Wordsworth, Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge living and working in the city.

Photo by Emily Whitfield-Wicks

St Mary Redcliffe

This magnificent church was built by rich Bristol merchants to house their tombs and memorials. It was here that both Southey and Coleridge were married; and where the boy poet, Thomas Chatterton, claimed to have discovered much praised medieval poems, later found to be written by Chatterton himself.

Venue information
  • Walk 10 mins
  • Cycle 5 mins
Courtesy of Visit England

En route

Head through Queen Square, now fully restored to its 1817 layout. This now tranquil square was once the centre of three days of rioting in 1831, by Bristolians in support of Parliamentary reform

Photo by Jon Craig

Bristol Old Vic

This theatre has been at the heart of Bristol’s lively cultural life since it opened (illegally) in 1766. Now the oldest working theatre in the English speaking world, its recent redevelopment has opened up the original Georgian frontage and tours are now available to take visitors backstage in the historic auditorium.

Venue information
  • Walk 10 mins
  • Cycle 5 mins
Wide shot of Bristol Cathedral with College Green in the foreground and people sat on the grass
Courtesy of Bristol Cathedral

Bristol Cathedral

Founded as an Augustinian abbey in 1140, the Cathedral, with its Chapter House and cloisters, has some of the most important medieval architecture in Britain. A bust of Poet Laureate Robert Southey is in the north aisle.

Venue information
  • Walk 10 mins
Courtesy of Destination Bristol

En route

A steep walk up Park Street deserves a pit stop for lunch or a caffeine fix - there are some fantastic cafes, eateries and even a specialist gelateria which is well worth a visit.

Photo by Eve Andreski

The Georgian House Museum

Built by sugar merchant and slave owner John Pinney, this house, now fully restored to its original Georgian condition, shows what life was like above, and below, stairs. It was here that William and Dorothy Wordsworth stayed in 1795, during which time they were introduced to Southey and Coleridge.

Venue information
  • Walk 3 mins
Courtesy of St George's Hall

St George's Bristol

Built as a Regency church by architect Robert Smirke, who also designed the British Museum and Covent Garden Opera House, it’s now a music venue renowned for its splendid acoustics. Recent redevelopment has seen the opening of a heritage interpretation space, telling the story of the building and the surrounding area, as well as a newly commissioned installation Apollo by Bristol-based artist Luke Jerram.

Venue information
  • Walk 10 mins
Courtesy of Creative Commons

En route

Continue your journey up Park Street and pause at No 60. Here lived Hannah Moore: poet, playwright, philanthropist, abolitionist and one of Georgian Britain’s most influential women.

Courtesy of RWA

RWA

Round off the walk with a visit to the only Royal Academy of Art outside London. This magnificent early Victorian building has had a chequered history, once housing the US Army in WWII, and has finally been fully restored to become, once again, one of the finest exhibition spaces in the country.

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