watering-place,

Category: Places | Type: Glossary Word | Title: Emma (in Context) | Author: Jane Austen | Vol: Volume II | Ch: Chapter II

Such as Bath, which offers mineral waters thought to be healthy. From the earlier 18th c., as marriages especially among the gentry became less a matter of parental fiat and more an expression of the young people's wishes, watering-places provided a venue for singles coming from all over England to meet.

For those gentry who had or rented London townhouses, the "season" afforded another opportunity to expand the marriage market. The season lasted from around Christmas, when there was nothing left to hunt, and continued while Parliament was in session and might end in June with the Henley Regatta, the Derby, and Ascot.

More than the waters the young people came for Bath's famous assembly rooms. While parents or chaperones played cards, shopped, and took the waters, the unmarried gazed, preened, and mingled. Northanger Abbey perfectly catches the routine and the ploys and affections. Austen's preferred place was Lyme Regis, which figures in Persuasion, as well as does Bath, which she disliked and made the setting for Northanger Abbey.

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