Frankenstein and Bridgerton at the Bath Festival

Lady Danbury’s house (also known as the Holborn Museum) and Frankenstein’s Monster – an unlikely pair.

What do Frankenstein and Bridgerton (the Netflix series) have in common? It’s the city of Bath, of course: Mary Shelley wrote most of Frankenstein while living in Bath, and a lot of the filming for the Bridgerton series was filmed here as well.

These two very different literary creations (the Bridgerton series was based on a series of books) came together for me during the Bath Festival. The festival ran 17-24 May, and it was a program of various events taking place around the city. There were lots of authors talking about their books, musical events and guided walks.

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t very good. It rained a lot so I didn’t make it to two of the talks that I had scheduled. One reason I opted not to don my welly boots and rain slicker and go slogging up the slippery hill was that I knew the talks would be online later.

From 28 May through 11 June, many of the festival events will be online to watch for free in my nice, dry living room. And you can watch them too. Have a look and see if you are tempted by any of the offerings. You can see them at Bath Festival at Home

But my husband and I did manage to go on two of the guided walking tours…

Frankenstein in Bath Walking Tour

We went on the Frankenstein in Bath tour with Show of Strength Theatre Walks. Our guide, Sheila Hannon, was part actress, part historian. She kept us entertained as we walked in the footsteps of Mary Shelley who lived in Bath when she wrote most of Frankenstein.

The city of Bath almost forgot the part it played in the writing of Frankenstein. Then in 2018, two hundred years after the publication of the book, Mary Shelley and Frankenstein were recognized with a plaque. The house where Mary Shelley lived while writing the book is long gone, so the plaque has been placed where the house once stood, between the entrance to the Pump Room and the Roman Baths. In a quirky coincidence, the plaque commemorating the monster who was brought to life by electricity, stands over an electricity sub-station which delivers thousands of volts to the city of Bath.

Sheila Hannon, our performer/tour leader

As we walked through the city, we visited the various places associated with Mary Shelley’s stay in Bath and heard the, often tragic, story of her life. Even though the story is a sad one, Sheila’s lively presentation made us laugh as she revealed the sordid secrets and scandals that the Shelleys wanted to keep quiet.

The tour was really enjoyable, and I would recommend it if you’re in Bath. Show of Strenght Theatre Walks also has walking tours in Bristol. If you’re in the area, be sure to check them out.

Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein

At the end of the tour we met one of the men behind the soon-to-be-opened Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein. When I wrote about Frankenstein in Bath last October, it hadn’t yet opened. But we don’t have long to wait now. The opening is planned for 30 June and it looks to be very spooky.

One floor is dedicated to the life of Mary Shelley. And an eight-foot replica of Frankenstein’s monster has been recreated exactly as described by Mary Shelley in her book. It’s to be an interactive, multi-sensory experience for those who dare to enter.

Some parts may not be suitable for young children (or even sensitive adults). If you’re in a group and some of you like spooky and others don’t, the more sensitive folks can visit the milder Jane Austen Centre just a few doors down. You’ll find Mary Shelley’s House of Frankenstein at 37 Gay Street, Bath  BA1 2NT

If the House of Frankenstein is too scary, visit the more sedate Jane Austen Centre just a few doors down.

Bridgerton Walking Tour

We also went on a Bridgerton walking tour. It was pouring rain all morning and we hoped it would stop before our afternoon tour. But it didn’t. So we put on our boots, rain hats and coats and went anyway. We were glad we did.

If you’re a fan of the successful Netflix period drama, Bridgerton, you won’t want to miss this tour. The Bridgerton story is set in London, but many scenes – 70 of them in all – were shot in Bath which stood in for London. Bath is the perfect place to film period dramas because most of the buildings here were built in the 1700s and haven’t changed since. It makes a very authentic background. You can see some of the Bridgerton sites toward the bottom of this post

Our tour was led by the wonderful professional Blue Badge guide Fred Mawer.   We met outside the Featherington’s home (No. 1 Royal Crescent), passed several filming locations, including the lovely modiste shop (in Abbey Green), and ended up in front of Lady Danbury’s home (Holborn Museum). We saw how some places had been modified with computer generated changes and learned how others were actually changed. It was interesting to get a bit of behind-the-scenes insight into the filming of the series. If you’re in Bath and interested in Bridgerton, I would recommend this tour. You can also watch it on Bath Festival at Home.

Bath’s Royal Crescent in Bath stands in for Grosvener Square, London in Bridgerton

Bath Festival at Home

The Bath Festival has recorded many of its events which will be available online from 28 May through 11 June. It’s free to watch anywhere in the world. They do ask if you would like to make a donation, but it’s not mandatory. Have a look and see if there is anything you would like to see. Bath Festival at Home.  I hope you find something you like and hopefully you’ll visit the lovely city of Bath soon.

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Margo Lestz

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