I hope you're not offended by bonnets. As an Austen fan who'd lived in Bath for six years, not taking part in the Jane Austen Festival's Grand Regency Promenade suddenly seemed much sillier than actually dressing up and joining in, so this year we did just that. And it turns out I took loads of pictures of people's backs. But these are Regency-garbed, bonnet-topped backs, so I thought share them anyway.
The Promenade is a costumed event where over 500 Austen enthusiasts (see also: literature nerds, historical costume lovers, folks who like to do quaint things in pretty English cities etc) take a turn around the city of Bath. I attended with some wonderful fellow knitters and Mr P, who was somehow persuaded and looked unnervingly at home in his get-up.
It's certainly a bizarre world to enter. You do feel as if you've stepped back in time and ordinary things such as visiting a cash point or using your phone become strangely novel. You find yourself filled with bonnet admiration, pelisse envy, surrounded by people twirling parasols and quoting Pride and Prejudice. The latter was fairly excusable as, due to the inclement weather, our hems were indeed "six inches deep in mud".
Another discovery was that knitters love Jane Austen, or at least Austen fans love knitting. I was sporting my newly-finished Pebble Beach Shawl and I saw a fair few stunning handmade shawls. There was a Regency market (but of course) after the Promenade and I spotted a whole host of incredible knitted reticules and miser's purses. These pineapples were my absolute favourite and seemed to be selling like hot cakes. Talk about trends coming full circle. I found a knitting pattern for one on Ravelry here - an awesome reworking of a pattern from 1840.
As first-timers, we thoroughly enjoyed the promenade. Everybody we chatted to on the day was lovely. My personal highlights were: a little girl on the train to Bath asking if I was Cinderella, helping Mr P fix buckles to his shoes with kirby grips, eating a slice of apple cake roughly the size of my own head with the lovely knitters and shamelessly strolling around The Circus and along the Gravel Walk in a Empire line gown, lace fan fluttering.
If you've ever thought about going, I'd recommend it. There are all kinds of other events in the festival, but this one's a real spectacle. My frock was from this lovely Etsy seller and we hired Mr P's outfit from here.