A day out at Sydney Pleasure Gardens, Bath

17 March 2022

On paper, Sydney Gardens is simply a lovely park in the heart of the Roman Spa town of Bath. Once you are there however, you can discover many other facets to this park with plenty of history all around.

Literature and Screen links

Not long after the garden was opened in 1795, Jane Austen, the writer who set so any novels in Bath, and who is the adopted literary heroine of the city, moved to No. 4 Sydney Place, just opposite the entrance to the Holburne Museum. She had visited the gardens on many occasions, for walks, concerts, even firework displays, and loved the area, which hasn’t changed much over the years. Just imagine the parked cars being carriages, and you’ll enjoy a perfect time travel opportunity.

The Holburne Museum, set in the grounds of Sydney Gardens is the stately building you can see when approaching from Pulteney Bridge, walking down Great Pulteney Street. Originally built as the Sydney Hotel, the Grade 1 listed building was transformed into a museum in 1916 today exhibiting a super collection of fine and decorative arts. Viewers of the Netflix series Bridgerton will recognize the building as the stately home of Lady Danbury, and the museum has embraced its fame by offering Bridgerton Afternoon Teas in the beautiful café located in the new side wing, as well as offering the building and the grounds as a wedding venue.

The Pleasure Gardens

As Jane Austen already had found out, Sydney Gardens truly are a pleasure to explore. The Gardens’ scenic walks, such as the self-guided Jane Austen Trail and the Heritage Trail lead past ancient trees, a Greek-inspired temple, a Loggia, bridges across the tracks of the Great Western Railways, and various more modern sports venues such as tennis and even a petanque court, perfect for when you want to extend that lazy picnic on the lawn.  

Access to the Canal

As an added bonus, there is direct access from Sydney Gardens onto the Kennet and Avon Canal, the canal which connects the river Kennet which in turn joins the Thames in the east, with the River Avon I the west, and meanders through the gorgeous south-west English countryside following the rough route of the Great West Way. The canal starts in Bath, and from Sydney Garden, you can embark on a scenic walk to the not-too-far The George pub in Bathampton, or the three-hours walk away Bradford upon Avon.