The Jane Austen Centre is situated in the beautiful city of Bath.
its location in Gay Street is close to where the Austen ladies moved to after the death of the Rev George Austen in 1805. Jane Austen herself would have passed number 40 Gay Street every day and possibly paid morning visits to its occupants. Jane Austen’s novels Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are set in the city and many of the characters’ ‘lodgings’ still exist today.
40 Gay Street
Did Admiral and Mrs Croft lodge in this house?
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The heroine Anne Elliot’s father is Sir Walter Elliot
Sir Walter Elliot rents his estate Kellynch Hall to Admiral Croft.
Admiral Croft’s wife Sophy is sister to the hero Captain Frederick Wentworth.
“…The Crofts had placed themselves in lodgings in Gay Street, perfectly to Sir Walter’s satisfaction. He was not at all ashamed of the acquaintance…” Ch18
“…They [the Crofts] come [to Bath] on the Admiral’s account. He is thought to be gouty…” [explains Anne Elliot]Ch18
“…The Crofts knew quite as many people in Bath as they wished for…” Ch18
In the cancelled chapter of Persuasion the couple (Anne and Wentworth) are reunited again in Gay Street;
“…and Bath could scarcely contain any other two Beings at once so rationally and so rapturously happy as during that evening occupied the Sofa of Mrs Croft’s Drawing room in Gay Street…”
Jane Austen knew Gay Street very well it was a popular place to live in the city and besides visiting friends and family in the street, she lived at 25 for a brief period in 1805. Between 1797 and 1806, her cousin Edward Cooper’s mother-in-law, Mrs Caroline Powys stayed regularly at number 34. Charles Fowle (brother of Tom who was engaged to Cassandra) lodged at number 22. Dr Gibbes Physician who attended Rev George Austen on the day he died lived at number 28. When looking for lodgings Jane mentions in a letter to her sister in 1801 that, “…The Houses in the Streets near Laura Place I should expect to be above our price. – Gay Street would be too high, except only the lower house on the left hand side as you ascend; towards that my Mother has no disinclination; it used to be lower rented than any other house in the row, from some inferiority in the apartments…”
With its more superior apartments, Number 40 would have been an ideal location for the Crofts and not too far up the street for those of his senior friends with walking difficulties. In 1799 Fanny Sparrow the housekeeper was paying 18/6d in rates per quarter. Mrs Bromley at 13 Queen Square was paying £1-11-6d a quarter, however it is a slightly larger house and in a grander location! 40 Gay Street would have been good value for money.
Researched by J Herring.