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Festival Review 2017

The first major event of 2017 was our Summer Ball, held just a few weeks before the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. We took the opportunity to hold a joyous event, celebrating everything about Austen’s life and the works that she left behind. As well as dinner, dancing and cards our guests enjoyed reading snippets of Austen’s works, and learning about the houses where she lived here in England. We were joined by Giles Coren (looking a little bemused in our photograph) who had been persuaded to dance the Cotillion by our expert teacher Diana Campbell. Giles was filming for a SkyArts programme 'Passions - I hate Jane Austen' which aired on 12th December 2017. The programme also featured our good friend and Festival regular Professor John Mullan.

Our theme book for the Festival in September was Northanger Abbey. We were lucky enough to read and explore the novel while walking the same streets (and dancing in the same rooms!) as Austen’s heroine Catherine Morland, starting with a rain-free promenade from the Royal Crescent!

The Festival had a touch of the gothic about it; we had fantastic fun with talks on some spooky subjects including grave-robbers, gothic literature and gothic clothing, which we had a wonderful time wearing…
 The theatrical big hit in 2017 was Northanger Abbey by Heartbreak Productions with sell out  performances at The Mission Theatre.

Dancing is a very important part of the Festival and The Jane Austen Dancers day of dance at the Assembly Rooms with classes and a performance was a delight. The Country Dance held in the Guildhall was an opportunity for those with no Regency Dance experience to 'have a go' without the need for a Regency Costume.

Our guests had a chance to enjoy some of the most spectacular parts of Bath, with Twilight Tours of No 1 Royal Crescent, a musical tribute to Austen in the Assembly rooms with the Austen Trio and our fabulous Masked Ball at the Pump Rooms, with drinks  reception by the torch-lit Roman Baths.

There were also intriguing, unusual and light-hearted events -  Graham Short, the artist who caused such a stir with his tiny engravings of Jane Austen on the five pound notes, gave a talk on his work. The Natural Theatre Company were back with their fantastic <i>Austen Undone</i>, a very silly and very funny tour round Bath, following a dramatic love story unfold, with some unexpected twists and turns in the middle!

Actor Hayley Mills added a celebrity sparkle to The Story of Pride &amp; Prejudice whilst Matthew Trusler and Ashley Wass added the musical prowess.

There was plenty for the many fans of the BBC Pride and Prejudice, with talks from the director, Simon Langton, and a sell-out evening by Adrian Lukis, aka Mr Wickham with a surprise performance from the Mr Bennett, Benjamin Whitrow in what was to be possibly his last role.There were a lot of very special moments during the bicentenary Festival, the making of new and meeting up with old friends amongst the best.

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