Wednesday, May 11, 2011

From William Shakespeare to Jane Austin

Today was a special day in part because our coach arrived. We get to spend the next two and a half days not worrying about train schedules or lugging our luggage around.

We started out the day at Anne Hathaway's cottage. This is the childhood home of Anne who married Shakespeare. It was a bit overcast but the gardens were still beautiful. Unfortunately, we arrived just after a large group of French school kids so we had quite a long wait.

Anne married (actually, had to marry since she was pregnant) Shakespeare when she was 26 and he was 18. Most people in the middle and lower class married in their late 20s, so Anne was the correct age to marry, but Shakespeare would have been considered very young. The rule of thumb was that a person should not marry until they had saved enough money or moved into a job where they could afford to start a household. Shakespeare and Anne actually had to live with his family when they were first married --- very scandalous.

After leaving the cottage, we headed to Bath and Jane Austin country. We started by visiting the Roman baths. The city was actually founded by the Romans in the first century AD, but the Roman city is now 12 feet below the present city. One of the major archeological sites is the main public baths complex. This is a huge site since Romans of all classes not only bathed every day, but those with the time would have also gone to work out, get a massage, etc. This site was also a major temple complex dedicated to the god Minerva. Much of the waterworks, including the lead lining of the main pool, is still fully functional.

A few of the students were brave enough to test the warm mineral water that became so famous in the 18th century for its supposed healing powers and the reason the regency lords and ladies, including Jane Austin, flocked to the city.

For the last part of the afternoon, many of the students visited the Jane Austin Centre or the costume museum and took the opportunity to visit the Royal Crescent.

On our coach

Arriving at Anne Hathaway's cottage


The gardens at Anna Hathaway's

Let's hear it for Cornish Pasties

The Roman baths with the medieval Bath Abbey in the background

standing at street level looking down at the main pool

Part of the main temple complex

Part of a mosaic floor

Main pool at the Roman baths

Roman lead pipes

Drinking the warm mineral water at the Royal Pump Room. It was all the fashion in the 18th century

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