The Jane Austen Centre is a permanent exhibition. Situated in an original Georgian townhouse, it tells the story of Jane’s time in Bath, including the effect that living here had on her and her writing. Jane paid two long visits to Bath towards the end of the eighteenth century, and from 1801 to 1806 Bath was her home. Go and meet the costumed ‘character’ guides, and enjoy being shown Bath’s fascinating history and its associations with Jane Austen and her family. The Centre also now features a specially commissioned waxwork of Jane. The only verifiable image of her is a small watercolour painted by her sister Cassandra. This, however, has been acknowledged by experts as a ‘poor attempt’ and was described by her niece as ‘hideously unlike’ her aunt Jane. At the same time though, there exists many contemporary descriptions of her by friends and it was in this fact that the origin of the sculpture lies. They also have an extensive Group Visits programme, including walking tours of Georgian and Regency Bath.
In 2002, David Baldock, Director of the Jane Austen Centre, commissioned forensic artist Melissa Dring to create a new portrait of Austen, after reading about her work creating a likeness of Vivaldi for a film company, from eye-witness accounts. As David Baldock said: “We were always asked what Jane Austen looked like and in a way the only reference point we had was Jane Austen’s sister, Cassandra’s, very poor watercolour and we didn’t feel it did her justice.” The portrait was unveiled in December 2002. The process was taken a step further in 2011, when the Jane Austen Centre commissioned a three-dimensional, life-size wax figure. Based upon the 2002 portrait, the wax figure’s creation was undertaken by the portrait sculptor Mark Richards. During the three year process it took to create the Jane Austen figure, Richards worked closely with Melissa Dring, along with hair and color artist Nell Clarke, and designer Andrea Galer. The latter, dressing the completed figure in authentic period costume. The completed figure was unveiled to the world media on Wednesday 9 July 2014, at the Jane Austen Centre; the figure being displayed in a specially created space within the Centre.
The Centre produces an excellent online magazine on Jane Austen and her Regency environment. Bath provides the backdrop to 2 of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion and features in her other novels and in the collection of letters to her sister Cassandra. The main entrance and ticket area is situated on the ground floor with step free, level access, throughout. The floor surface is vinyl mock wood. The area is evenly and well lit with overhead lighting from fluorescent lights. There are two step at the entrance but ramps can be provided. There is only wheelchair access to the ground floor.
Location : 40 Gay Street, Queen Square, Bath BA1 2NT
Transport: Bath Spa (National Rail) 1 mile or bus. Bus Routes : 716 stops closeby the Centre.
Opening Times : Daily 09:45 - 17:30
Tickets : Adults £11.00; Senior £9.50; Children £5.50
Tel: 01225 443000