Jane Austen’s England

Aug 14, 2019

by McKenzie Bengry '20
Edited for content and length.

Have you ever been so excited for a trip that you can’t sleep the night before? Well, that was me… and I’m assuming everyone else on the trip, as well. 

From October 13th to the 21st, I would be with 9 other people as we journeyed around Jane Austen’s England. We of course hit all the touristy spots, but we also visited places that can’t be ignored – like Stonehenge!

Stonehenge.
Stonehenge.

There are plenty of spots in Bath and London that the United States of America doesn’t have, things such as: The Roman Baths, active abbeys and cathedrals, and Parliament – just to name a few. I had the privilege last year to have gone to London with my family, so coming back was a refresher of the environment. I know that a good portion of the students on my trip had not been out of the country, so they were excited to visit places that they thought they’d only see in pictures.

Keep reading to find out some of the highlights that we got to experience on our trip!

Bath, England

Last year, when I traveled to England, I only visited London. Traveling to Bath was new for me and I was anxious to go. We definitely spent a lot of time as a group while we were here because it was unfamiliar territory for everyone – even those who have traveled to Europe! Our group walks around Bath to explore Jane Austen sites was under gloomy, rainy skies – a perfect England day. The shops in Bath were very similar to ones you would see at outdoor malls or outlets in the United States; there was an afternoon where we had free time, and everyone was taking advantage of scoping out the fashion scene! We walked quite a lot in Bath and London. So, if you intend on going to either of these cities, bring sensible shoes!

My favorite part about Bath was seeing the Roman Baths and the Royal Crescent. The Roman Baths had an audio guided walking tour, and although it was super busy, it was really interesting to walk through. Of course, you can’t get into the baths themselves, but the steam rising off of the water was tempting! The Royal Crescent is a setting that is popular in Jane Austen novels. It’s a large residential area that is, in fact, in the shape of a crescent. These two places were the ones I looked forward to most, but we also hit a lot of small places that I didn’t expect to see!

McKenzie '20 (left) and Peter '20 (right) during one of their museum trips.
McKenzie '20 (left) and Peter '20 (right) during one of their museum trips.

London, England

It still blows my mind that people drive on the opposite side of the road. I can remember learning how to drive and thinking about how difficult it was, but watching the people in England drive is terrifying. Of course, there are also the obvious things: schooling is different, public transportation is very popular, they don’t really put ice in your drinks, they do put a lemon in your Coca-Cola, and fish and chips is a very big commodity. In some ways, the culture is exactly what you would expect from a European country, but because there is no language barrier, it’s a comforting place to be.

During our time in London, we had a tour guide, Gary, who gave us all the good details on the culture of London that the information in museums can’t give you. Gary, like every other person we talked to while in London, loved their country. And when they found out we were from North America they were very welcoming and excited to share their lives with us!

Traveling In-Between

Outside of our two main locations, Bath and London, we visited other small towns that were both part of Jane Austen’s experience, but also something fun for all of us!

Our group had a bus driver during our time in Bath, so our traveling to different excursions was comfortable! Once we made it to London, our main source of transportation was the tube. If you’ve ever been to Washington, D.C. or New York, it’s quite similar. Everything is color coded, though, so it’s a little bit easier to understand where you’re trying to get to. Being in small groups also helped, just in case you get separated!

Dr. Huneycutt going into Persephone Books.
Dr. Huneycutt going into Persephone Books.

A few of the places we visited that weren’t in Bath or London, were: Chawton, Winchester, Salisbury, and Stonehenge. A few of these places were on the itinerary, but we found that we had some extra time to spare, so we made a little side trip.

On Tuesday morning, we took a trip to Stonehenge. This is one of those places that I never thought I’d see in person, and that it was only something I’d see in pictures. I felt overwhelmed by the stones and the area that this was located. It seems so far away from civilization, but on the opposite side of the stones, sits the highway. It was very surreal.