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Jane Austen Festival 2014

Hundreds of people will be dusting off their corsets and grabbing their breeches this weekend for Bath’s 14th Jane Austen Festival.

Jackie Herring, the director of the Jane Austen Festival in Bath says that fancy dress isn’t just for children – far from it. Instead, she says it’s an escape for all ages and offers a fascinating glimpse into the past.

 And Jackie has her fingers crossed that the well-dressed group will win back the title of Guinness World Record for the Largest Gathering of People Dressed in Regency Costumes. They won it in 2009, were over taken by an American festival this year, and are now eager to win back their title.

“The city of Bath lends itself to costume events, particularly Georgian and Regency costumes which look so beautiful against the glorious Bath stonework,” she says. “The Regency period was a time of manners and etiquette. Dressing in costume helps us to escape from the frenetic pace of modern life; we become ladies and gentlemen and have time to converse with our fellow man in person, not at the end of the mobile phone.”

 

“There is something rather wonderful about walking through the city dressed in Regency clothing with a bonnet, Spencer jacket, long high-waisted dress, gloves, a parasol and low heeled shoes; particularly on a sunny day, you feel part of the city,” she says. “The style is very comfortable, with just a small corset and is very flattering. Many who come to the festival wear Regency costume the entire time they are in Bath.”

The Festival not only celebrates a much-loved writer and her writing but it’s also set in an historic and glorious architectural gem, Bath. It attracts people from all over the world and one of the many highlights, the Masked Ball, takes place in the totally unique setting of the Roman Baths and Pump Rooms.

“For the space of 10 days, we catch a small glimpse of what life was like in Bath when Jane Austen lived here, but only the good bits,” she says. “We experience it with modern conveniences like electricity and hot and cold running water instead.”

“I think it’s so popular due to the because of the international popularity of Jane Austen,” says Jackie. “Jane Austen’s writing has been translated worldwide. The stunning setting and architecture of Bath is one that writer would have recognised due to the fact that she actually walked the streets, that her parents were married in the city, her grandfather and father were buried at St Swithin’s Church at Walcot and two of her novels – Northanger Abbey and Persuasion – were set in the city.”

Jane Austen was an English novelist whose books, set among the English middle and upper classes, are notable for their wit, social observation and insights into the lives of early 19th century women.