2014 Jane Austen Festival in Bath (probably the best in the world!)
So many wonderful memories it is difficult to put just a few together. The weather was good to us throughout the entire ten days. Our official opening day with the Grand Regency Costumed Promenade which included the attempt at the Guinness World Record for ‘The largest gathering of people dressed in Regency costume’, went off without a hitch! 550 people all in stunning Regency costume what a record. Thank-you to everyone who took part you all looked wonderful. The event was overseen by two official witnesses, eight stewards, two film crews, assorted cameramen and Adrian Lukis (Mr Wickham) and Caroline Langrishe.
Local professional orchestra Bath Philharmonia were joined by internationally renowned Male Soprano, Robert Crowe for an evening of fabulous music in Bath Abbey. Exsultate, Jubilate – An evening with Rauzzini, was simply stunning and what an amazing sound.
The good music continued with a lunchtime recital by the talented David Wright on harpsichord who delighted us with a selection that would have been heard in the pleasure gardens.
and also Husband and wife team Sarah Deere-Jones and Phil Williams returned to the Festival and performed their ‘Thy Trembling Strings’ concert on guitar and harp.
There were many theatricals during the week, with Lovers Vows, Austen the Musical, Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Presents and Love & Friendship. We were also delighted to welcome New Zealander Penny Ashton to the Festival who introduced us to Miss Elspeth Slowtree and friends in two very energetic, hilarious and entertaining performances of her own composition Promise and Promiscuity with characters straight out of Austen!
Of course there was dancing, dancing and more dancing; lessons on how to play the harp, use a fan, take snuff, use a cane, bow and curtsey as well as walking tours and mini-bus tours. Food and talks were provided by Jane Tapley in her Regency town house whilst Gillian Dooley came all the way from Australia to talk about music and education in Mansfield Park. Austen author Maggie Lane along with Angela Barlow performed snippets and discussed Austen’s attention to Widows.
We read Mansfield Park throughout the week in Bath Central Library (Festival Director, Jackie Herring, reading Mrs Norris!)
and discussed the novel with Professor John Mullan. Volunteer’s Amy and Charlotte showed their intimate knowledge of the book having recently read quite a lot of it!
Austen’s Women by Rebecca Vaughan (shown out of costume) was held in the magnificent portrait gallery of the Holburne Museum.
Other venues used were the Assembly Rooms, The Guildhall, No. 1 Royal Crescent, Building of Bath Collection, Herschel Museum of Astronomy, BRLSI, The Royal Mineral Water Hospital, The Mission Theatre and of course the Roman Baths and Pump Room.
The drinks reception held around the Roman Baths prior to the start of the Masked Ball is a unique experience which is why this event is so popular and tickets sell so quickly. This image is of soprano Louise singing by the Kings Bath.
Our finale was the superb 100% improvised performance by Austentatious.
Friends are made for life here in Bath, it doesn’t matter if you come by yourself you will not be on your own for long.
This image is of an impromptu game held at Sydney Gardens on the final Sunday where we got together for a walk and a picnic.
The Jane Austen Festival is lovingly put together by a very small team who are joined during the week by volunteer stewards who give up their time to help out. Thank-you to everyone for making 2014 the best Festival yet and particularly to the wonderful volunteers, it would not have happened without you.
With very best wishes
Jackie Herring – Festival Director
The 14th Jane Austen Festival, Bath, UK