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Archive for the ‘Beechen Cliff’ Category

Summer has arrived in England – I’ve been to Bath a the weekend and couldn’t resist taking some photos for my Bath album. The ones here show Henrietta Park and a walk I took up to Beechen Cliff. I hope you enjoy them!
Cherry tree in flower in Henrietta Park
A pigeon enjoys the sun
The magnolias are out!
Henrietta Park
House at the foot of Lyncombe Hill
View looking back to Bath from Jacob’s Ladder
Looking through trees on Beechen Cliff
Dappled light through the trees
Wild garlic on the slopes of Beechen Cliff
Views from the top
Looking towards the Royal Crescent
Bath Abbey from Beechen Cliff
Bath from Beechen Cliff
Northanger Abbey – My illustration showing the Abbey from Beechen Cliff. Catherine Morland is taking a walk with Isabella and Henry Tilney.

 

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Here we are at the top of Beechen Cliff at last!
My own painting of the scene at Beechen Cliff shows Catherine Morland, Henry Tilney and his sister Eleanor admiring the view from the top. Henry is pointing to a view in the distance and probably using terms like ‘backgrounds’ and ‘foregrounds’, ‘middle distances’ and ‘picturesque’ etc. about which, Catherine doesn’t know very much. Picturesque, meaning literally ‘fit to be made into a picture’ was a popular term and pursuit in Jane Austen’s day as her contemporaries roamed the countryside in search of ‘beautiful and sublime’ scenery. Jane Austen is having her own little bit of fun here when she describes how eagerly Catherine latches onto these new ideas, so much so, that she dismisses the whole of Bath as being unworthy of a decent view. There’s more on this further down the post.
Well, here are some of the photos that we took after we got to the top of Jacob’s ladder. The views over Bath are spectacular and well worth the climb. In the first photo you can see the Royal Crescent, that elegant curve of houses in front of which the Crescent fields provided a popular promenade in Jane’s day. The second photo shows a glimpse down onto the Kennet and Avon canal, the third photo shows Camden Place where Sir Walter Elliot in Persuasion took a house, and photo four shows a view over Bath with the Abbey still prominent but perhaps not looking quite so majestic as in earlier scenes. Click here for an old print showing the view of Bath from Beechen Cliff in times gone by.
Here’s a little more of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. Catherine Morland is a little out of her depth when Henry and his sister start talking about the principles of the picturesque and which views would be suitable for drawing. They were viewing the country with the eyes of persons accustomed to drawing, and decided on its capability of being formed into pictures, with all the eagerness of real taste. Here Catherine was quite lost. She knew nothing of drawing — nothing of taste: and she listened to them with an attention which brought her little profit, for they talked in phrases which conveyed scarcely any idea to her. The little which she could understand, however, appeared to contradict the very few notions she had entertained on the matter before. It seemed as if a good view were no longer to be taken from the top of an high hill, and that a clear blue sky was no longer a proof of a fine day. She was heartily ashamed of her ignorance. A misplaced shame. Where people wish to attach, they should always be ignorant. To come with a well–informed mind is to come with an inability of administering to the vanity of others, which a sensible person would always wish to avoid. A woman especially, if she have the misfortune of knowing anything, should conceal it as well as she can.

The advantages of natural folly in a beautiful girl have been already set forth by the capital pen of a sister author; and to her treatment of the subject I will only add, in justice to men, that though to the larger and more trifling part of the sex, imbecility in females is a great enhancement of their personal charms, there is a portion of them too reasonable and too well informed themselves to desire anything more in woman than ignorance. But Catherine did not know her own advantages — did not know that a good–looking girl, with an affectionate heart and a very ignorant mind, cannot fail of attracting a clever young man, unless circumstances are particularly untoward. In the present instance, she confessed and lamented her want of knowledge, declared that she would give anything in the world to be able to draw; and a lecture on the picturesque immediately followed, in which his instructions were so clear that she soon began to see beauty in everything admired by him, and her attention was so earnest that he became perfectly satisfied of her having a great deal of natural taste. He talked of foregrounds, distances, and second distances — side–screens and perspectives — lights and shades; and Catherine was so hopeful a scholar that when they gained the top of Beechen Cliff, she voluntarily rejected the whole city of Bath as unworthy to make part of a landscape. Delighted with her progress, and fearful of wearying her with too much wisdom at once, Henry suffered the subject to decline, and by an easy transition from a piece of rocky fragment and the withered oak which he had placed near its summit, to oaks in general, to forests, the enclosure of them, waste lands, crown lands and government, he shortly found himself arrived at politics; and from politics, it was an easy step to silence.

We followed the canal on our way home and so I’ve included a couple more photos to show you. I love to see the backs of the houses and their beautiful gardens almost tumbling down into the water itself. Halfway along we found a little kiosk serving tea and ice cream, but after a short stop, the clouds were gathering and rain threatened. We just got to the Pulteney Arms in time for a wonderful Sunday lunch as the heavens opened. There cannot be many nicer ways to spend a Sunday in Bath!

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Well, I’ve rested long enough and will continue my walk up Beechen cliff, which, if you remember, features so delightfully in Northanger Abbey. I’ve included photos of the steps known as Jacob’s ladder and the wonderful views over Bath as you climb to the top. I had to include some of Jane Austen’s wonderful novel where Catherine, Henry, and his sister take a walk up to that noble hill. I thought it quite interesting that Catherine compares it to the scenery of the south of France even if the irony is that she’s never been abroad – but, I think these photos show something of the views she would have observed, and it does have an exotic flavour, not to mention the gorgeous scent of wild garlic growing on either side!

The next morning was fair, and Catherine almost expected another attack from the assembled party. With Mr. Allen to support her, she felt no dread of the event: but she would gladly be spared a contest, where victory itself was painful, and was heartily rejoiced therefore at neither seeing nor hearing anything of them. The Tilneys called for her at the appointed time; and no new difficulty arising, no sudden recollection, no unexpected summons, no impertinent intrusion to disconcert their measures, my heroine was most unnaturally able to fulfil her engagement, though it was made with the hero himself. They determined on walking round Beechen Cliff, that noble hill whose beautiful verdure and hanging coppice render it so striking an object from almost every opening in Bath.

“I never look at it,” said Catherine, as they walked along the side of the river, “without thinking of the south of France.”

“You have been abroad then?” said Henry, a little surprised.

“Oh! No, I only mean what I have read about. It always puts me in mind of the country that Emily and her father travelled through, in The Mysteries of Udolpho. But you never read novels, I dare say?”

“Why not?”

“Because they are not clever enough for you — gentlemen read better books.”

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. I have read all Mrs. Radcliffe’s works, and most of them with great pleasure. The Mysteries of Udolpho, when I had once begun it, I could not lay down again; I remember finishing it in two days — my hair standing on end the whole time.”

“Yes,” added Miss Tilney, “and I remember that you undertook to read it aloud to me, and that when I was called away for only five minutes to answer a note, instead of waiting for me, you took the volume into the Hermitage Walk, and I was obliged to stay till you had finished it.”

“Thank you, Eleanor — a most honourable testimony. You see, Miss Morland, the injustice of your suspicions. Here was I, in my eagerness to get on, refusing to wait only five minutes for my sister, breaking the promise I had made of reading it aloud, and keeping her in suspense at a most interesting part, by running away with the volume, which, you are to observe, was her own, particularly her own. I am proud when I reflect on it, and I think it must establish me in your good opinion.”

“I am very glad to hear it indeed, and now I shall never be ashamed of liking Udolpho myself. But I really thought before, young men despised novels amazingly.”

Next time, the views from the very top! Yes, there will be Part Three!

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We’ve had some gorgeous weather here in England over the last few weeks so it’s been lovely to get out and about in the sunshine. I thought I’d post some of the photos we took on a walk, or rather, a climb up to Beechen Cliff.
In Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen has her heroine, Catherine Morland, go to Beechen Cliff with our hero, Mr Tilney and his sister.
The Tilneys called for her at the appointed time; and no new difficulty arising, no sudden recollection, no unexpected summons, no impertinent intrusion to disconcert their measures, my heroine was most unnaturally able to fulfil her engagement, though it was made with the hero himself. They determined on walking round Beechen Cliff, that noble hill whose beautiful verdure and hanging coppice render it so striking an object from almost every opening in Bath.

We took a route from the bottom of Lyncombe Hill and turned onto Calton Gardens to find the steps which take you to the very top of Beechen Cliff. I’ve just posted the first few pictures as I wanted to show you how the path just gets higher and higher, and there were so many stunning views I haven’t room to include them all today. It is one of those walks where we did find it necessary to keep stopping to enjoy the scenery as well as catch our breath. I remember it not being quite so difficult the last time I did it, but still, I got there in the end! Go to the bottom of the post and scroll up as if you are going up the hill! The first two photos show some of the pretty florals to be seen in the gardens of the houses roundabout the bottom of Lyncombe Hill and Calton Gardens. Photos of the steps with views of Bath follow on.




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