No 4, Sydney House
No 4, Sydney House was a good, well proportoned newly built terraces house. It was well placed outside the crowded centre of Bath, but within walking distance over Pulteney bridge.
From its talldrawing room windows it looked across the road to the newly laid-out and very agreeable Sydney Gardens at the front
The father of Jane died in 1805 in a house in Green park Building East to which they had moved not many weeks after the lease on Sydney Place ran out.
An old photograph of Green Park Buildings from The Buildings of Georgian Bath by Walter Ison,looking towards Seymour Street)
Jane, her mother and Cassandra had to move again to No 25 Gay Street. We know very little about the house as it was at the time when Jane Austen lived in it. Gay Street was a very busy street, full of chairs carrying people from the Upper to the Lower town, and would have been noisy. It was firmly set into the centre of town with very little chance of good views of the surrounding countryside.
No 25 Gay Street
The Austen ladies were of course at this time beginning to find that their financial position was not particularly secure. By his will Mr Austen left everything to Mrs Austen. But his main source of income was the money from his livings of Deane and Steventon and any entitlement to that money ceased at the moment of his death. Mrs Austen had a little independent income and Cassandra had the interest on the £1000 left to her by her late finance Tom Fowle, but Jane Austen had nothing whatsoever in the way of income.
The letters sent between the Austen brothers at this time indicate quite interesting attitudes to the economic and social fate of the Austen ladies. Frank had just been appointed to the 80-gun HMS Canopus. He generously offered £100 per annum towards the upkeep of Mrs Austen and his sisters, and did so in a letter to Henry Austen requesting that he keep this offer secret from the ladies.
Here is part of Henry’s illuminating reply to him:
With the proudest exultations of maternal tenderness the Excellent Parent has exclaimed that never were Children so good as hers. She feels the magnificence of your offer, and accepts of half. I shall therefore honor her demands for 50 pounds annually on your account. James had the day before yesterday communicated to me & Her his desire to be her Banker for the same annual assistance, & l as long as I am an Agent shall do as he does. – If Edward does the least he ought, he will certainly insist on her receiving a £100 from him. So you see My Dear E, that with her own assured property, & Cassandra’s, both producing about £250 per ann., She will be in the receipt of a clear £450 pounds per Ann.
They only remained in Gay Street for six months before moving once again, this time to Trim Street, a narrow lane in the darker and cheaper part of town.
The Jane Austen centre in Bath, provides us with an insight into Jane's life in the city and the life that was going on around her at that time, as illustrated in some of her novels. The centre is housed in No 40 Gay Street, in a Georgian town house, similar to the type that Jane would have lived in during her time at No25 Gay Street.
tea antiques and Jane Austen