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HISTORY OF GEORGIAN BATH, BATH HISTORY, HISTORY OF BATH
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Pictures, both old and modern, of all these streets, crescents and buildings can be found here
Tobias Smollett 1721-1771
Humphry Clinker is an epistolary novel, a collection of letters, that charts the adventures of a family group traveling through Britain. The head of the family is Matthew Bramble, a gouty old man, who is constantly writing his doctor with his complaints and visiting areas supposed to be good for his condition.The group travels to Bath, London, Edinburgh, and the Scottish Highlands. Along the way, they meet Humphry Clinker, a dull-headed creature who becomes devoted to Matthew Bramble, even saving his life.Humphry Clinker contains very concrete details about the social and material world of eighteenth century Britain. Most pertinently, it is pervaded with references to health, sickness, and healing. As the family moves from one place of healing to the next, Bramble tries a wide range of cures and meets numerous people suffering from different ailments.
The Terrors of Bathing - Humphry Clinker 1771
I have done with the waters; therefore your advice comes a day too late. Two days ago I went into the King's Bath by the advice of our friend in order to clear the strainer of the skin, for the benefit of a free perspiration; and the first object that saluted my eye, was a child full of scrophulous ulcers, carried on the arms of one of the guides, under the very noses of the bathers. I was so shocked at the sight that I retired immediately with indignation and disgust - Suppose the matter of those ulcers, floating on the water, comes in contact with my skin, when the pores are all open, I would ask you what must be the consequence? - Good Heaven, the very thought makes my blood run cold!
But I am now as much afraid of drinking, as of bathing; for after a long conversation with the doctor, about the construction of the Pump and the cistern, it is very far from being clear to me, that the patients in the Pump Room don't swallow the scourings of the bathers. I can't help suspecting, that there is, or may be, some regurgitation from the bath into the cistern of the pump. In that case, what a delicate beveridge is every day quaffed by the drinkers; medicated with the sweat and dirt, and dandriff; and the abominable discharges of various kinds, from twenty different diseased bodies, parboiling in the kettle below. In order to avoid this filthy composition, I had recourse to the spring that supplies the private baths on the Abbey Green; but I at once perceived something extraordinary in the taste and smell; and, upon inquiry, I find that the Roman baths in this quarter, were found covered by an old burying ground, belonging to the Abbey; through which, in all probability, the water drains in its passage: so that as we drink the decoction of living bodies at the Pump Room, we swallow the strainings of rotten bones and carcasses at the private bath - I vow to God, the very idea turns my stomach!
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Bath, April 23, Mathew Bramble, p. 63
I was impatient to see the boasted improvements in architecture, for which the upper parts of the town have been so much celebrated and t'other day I made a circuit of the new buildings. The Square, though irregular, is, on the whole, pretty well laid out, spacious, open and airy; and, in my opinion, by far the most wholesome and agreeable situation in Bath, especially the upper side of it; but the avenues to it are mean, dirty, dangerous, and indirect. Its communication with the Baths, is through the yard of an inn, where the poor trembling valetudinarian is carried in a chair, betwixt the heels of a double row of horses, wincing under the curry-combs of grooms and postilions, over and above the hazard of being obstructed, or over-turned by carriages which are continually making their exit or their entrance- I suppose after some chairmen shall have been maimed, and a few lives lost by those accidents, the corporation will think, in earnest, about providing a more safe and commodious passage. The Circus is a pretty bauble, contrived for shew, and looks like Vespasian's amphitheatre turned outside in. If we consider it in point of magnificence, the great number of small doors belonging to the separate houses, the inconsiderable height of the different orders, the affected ornaments of the architrave, which are both childish and misplaced, and the areas projecting into the street, surrounded with iron rails, destroy a good part of its effect upon the eye; ....
But, to return to the Circus; it is inconvenient from its situation, at so great a distance from all the markets, baths and places of public entertainment. The only entrance to it, through Gay-Street, is so difficult, steep and slippery, that in wet weather, it must be exceedingly dangerous, both for those that ride in carriages, and those that walk a-foot; and when the street is covered with snow, as it was for fifteen days successively this very winter, I don't see how any individual could go either up or down, without the most imminent hazard of broken bones. ..
...The same artist who planned the Circus, has likewise projected a Crescent; when that is finished, we shall probably have a Star; and those who are living thirty years hence may, perhaps, see all the signs of the Zodiac exhibited in architecture at Bath. These, however fantastical, are still designs that denote some ingenuity and knowledge in the architect; but the rage of building has laid hold on such a number of adventurers, that one sees new houses starting up in every out-let and every corner of Bath; contrived without judgment, executed without solidity, and stuck together with so little regard to plan and propriety, that the different lines of the new rows and buildings interfere with, and intersect one another in every different angle of conjunction. They look like the wreck of streets and squares disjointed by an earthquake, which hath broken the ground into a variety of holes and hillocks; or as if some Gothic devil had stuffed them altogether in a bag, and left them to stand higedly piggedly, just as chance directed. What sort of a monster Bath will become in a few years, with those growing excrescences, may be easily conceived: but the want of beauty and proportion is not the worst effect of these new mansions; they are built so slight, with the soft crumbling stone found in this neignbourhood, that I shall never sleep quietly in one of them, when it blowed (as the sailors saiy) a cap-full of wind; and, I am persuaded, that my hind, Roger Williams, or any man of equal strength, would be able to push his foot through the strongest part of their walls, without any great exertion of his muscles. All these absurdities arise from the general tide of luxury, which hath overspread the nation, and swept away all, even the very dregs of the people. Every upstart of fortune, harnessed in the trappings of the mode, presents himself at Bath, as in the very focus of observation - Clerks and factors from the East Indies, loaded with the spoil of plundered provinces; planters, negro-drivers, and hucksters, from our American plantations, enriched they know not how; agents, commissaries, and contractors, who have fattened, in two successive wars, on the blood of the nation; usurers, brokers, and jobbers of every kind; men of low birth, and no breeding, have found themselves suddenly translated into a state of affluence, unknown to former ages; and no wonder that their brains should be intoxicated with pride, vanity, and presumption. Knowing no other criterion of greatness, but the ostentation of wealth, they discharge their affluence without taste or conduct, through every channel of the most absurd extravagance; and all of them hurry to Bath, because here, without any further qualification, they can mingle with the princes and the nobles of the land. Even the wives and daughters of low tradesmen, who, like shovel-nosed sharks, prey upon the blubber of those uncouth whales of fortune, are infected with the same rage of displaying their importancce; and the slightest indisposition serves them for a pretext to insist upon being conveyed to Bath, where they may hobble country-dances and cotillons among lordlings, squires, counsellors, and clergy. These delicate creatures from Bedfordbury, Butcher-row, Crutched-friers, and Botolph-lane, cannot breathe in the gross air of the Lower Town, or conform to the vulgar rules of a common lodging-house; the husband, therefore, must provide an entire house, or elegant apartments in the new buildings. Such is the composition of what is called the fashionable company at Bath; where a very inconsiderable proportion of genteel people are lost in a mob of impudent plebeians, who have neither understanding nor judgment, nor the least idea of propriety and decorum; and seem to enjoy nothing so much as an opportunity of insulting their betters. ....
....This, I own, is a subject on which I cannot write with any degree of patience; for the mob is a monster I never could abide, either in its head, tail, midriff or members; I detest the whole of it, as a mass of ignorance, presumption, malice, and brutality; and, in this term of reprobation, I include, without respect of rank, station, or quality all those of both sexes, who affect its manners, and court its society.
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Madden - Bath Macaroni 1781
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language: Fourth Edition. 2000...........macaroni: A well-traveled young Englishman of the 18th and 19th centuries who affected foreign customs and manners. b. A fop.
Portrait of a Fop:
Next let the MACARONI come,
All paste, all powder, and perfume,
With conscious air, and saunt'ring gait,
With club of most prodigious weight:
A cambrick bandage round his throat,
With demi-pockets to his coat;
Where, as he idly stares about,
His handkerchief hangs dangling out;
With his seals or rattan playing,
Or, what is worse, himself surveying;
With antick tricks, and plum'd conceit,
With purse as empty as his pate;
Yet every bauble still pursuing,
And each flirting female wooing&ldots;..
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Christopher Anstey - 1790 1724-1805 More info on Anstey, click here
"LIBERALITY OR THE DECAYED MACARONI".........Click here
The New Bath Guide, 1766. by Christopher Anstey
An Introduction with notes on the text by Gavin Turner, the Bath Press, Bath, 1994.
The New Bath Guide comprises the memoirs, in a series of poetical epistles, of a party of visitors from the North of the country to Bath in 1766. The letters contain a humorous account of the customs of Bath and of the amusements and acivities of those who resort there for the purposes of health, fashion or society. The group of visitors consists of a young squire Simkin, and his sister Prudence, who have both been ordered to Bath for the benefit of their health; accompanying them are their cousin Jenny and maid Tabitha Runt.
The characteristic feature of the fashionable life in Bath... was that it was lived in public. Simkin observes that Persons of Taste and true Spirit, / Are fond of attracting the Eyes of Mankind. (X:3-4). It was a deliberate policy, initiated by Beau Nash and promoted by an active building development, to encourage visitors to go out and meet in public places. The Parades, Pump Room, Assembly Rooms and many churches, all places of meeting and assembly, were constructed during the eighteenth century; in addition across the river Avon there was the Springs Gardens where public breakfasts could be held. By stressing the importance of meeting in public, Nash, the Master of Ceremonies in Bath for more than fifty years, did much to regulate the behaviour of visitors. A daily routine for them was thus established of which Jenny gives a hint in Letter IX:
O the charming Parties made!
Some to walk to the South Parade,
Some to LINCOMBs shady Groves,
Or to SIMPSONs proud Alcoves;
Some for Chapel trip away,
Then take Places for the Play.
The consultation with the doctors enables some satirical verse to be composed at their expense and they are revealed to be more interested in their fees and in discussing the state of the nation than in the cure for Simkins wind:
This Stamp-Act, no doubt, might be good for the Crown-
But I fear tis a Pill that will never go down-
What can Portugal mean? - is She going to stir up
Convulsions and Heats in the Bowels of Europe?
Twill be fatal if England relapses again
From the ill Blood and Humours of Bourbon and Spain.
This passage illustrates some particular features of Simkins writings. Much of his verse is topical, as the reference to the Stamp Act indicates; but the satire is mild.... His use of words is frequently idiosyncratic. Thus Pill, Convulsions, Bowels, Relapses, and Blood, whilst appropriate to the persons speaking them (the doctors), are somewhat unusual in the particular context chosen, a discussion of domestic and European politics.
Having satirized the doctors, the proceedings at the baths are humorously considered. Simkin watches the mixed bathing at the baths with a combination of incredulity and lechery:
Twas a glorious Sight to behold the Fair Sex
All wading with Gentlemen up to their Necks,
And view them so prettily tumble and sprawl
In a great smoaking Kettle as big as our Hall.
......recalling a diary entry of Samuel Pepys made almost exactly one hundred years earlier questioning the hygiene at the baths, methinks it cannot be clean to go so many bodies together in to the same water.
So while little TABBY was washing her Rump,
The Ladies kept drinking it out of a Pump.
All the welcoming courtesies associated with Nashs reign in Bath, and extended to visitors on their arrival in the city, are observed by Simkin. These include the peal of Abbey bells and the visit of the musicians to the lodgings, the announcements of arrivals in the newspaper and the requests for subscriptions, and all are designed to make the visitor feel important.... Payment for these courtesies is of course required, a form of taxation levied by the local residents:
Yet despite the absurdities and the trivial nature of many of the activities, Nash did perhaps as much as any other person even in the eighteenth century to civilise the neglected manners of mankind....There is still much admiration for the civilising influence of Nash...
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Robert Lassandrello - 1737
"THE DISEASES OF BATH: A SATIRE"............Click here
Mrs. Mary Chandler - 1734
"THE DESCRIPTION OF BATH.....A POEM"...........Click here
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Duelling in Bath
Extract from: "Memoirs of Popular Delusions, Vol 1"
A barbarous and fiercely-contested duel was fought in November 1778, between two foreign adventurers, at Bath, named Count Rice and the Vicomte du Barri. Some dispute arose relative to a gambling transaction, in the course of which Du Barri contradicted an assertion of the other, by saying, "That is not true!" Count Rice immediately asked him if he knew the very disagreeable meaning of the words he had employed. Du Barri said he was perfectly well aware of their meaning, and that Rice might interpret them just as he pleased. A challenge was immediately given and accepted. Seconds were sent for, who, arriving with but little delay, the whole party, though it was not long after midnight, proceeded to a place called Claverton Down, where they remained with a surgeon until daylight. They then prepared for the encounter, each being armed with two pistols and a sword. The ground having been marked out by the seconds, Du Barri fired first, and wounded his opponent in the thigh. Count Rice then levelled his pistol, and shot Du Barri mortally in the breast. So angry were the combatants, that they refused to desist; both stepped back a few paces, and then rushing forward, discharged their second pistols at each other. Neither shot took effect, and both throwing away their pistols, prepared to finish the sanguinary struggle by the sword. They took their places, and were advancing towards each other, when the Vicomte du Barri suddenly staggered, grew pale, and, falling to the ground, exclaimed, "Je vous demande ma vie." His opponent had but just time to answer, that he granted it, when the unfortunate Du Barri turned upon the grass, and expired with a heavy groan. The survivor of this savage conflict was then removed to his lodgings, where he lay for some weeks in a dangerous state. The coroner's jury, in the mean while, sat upon the body of Du Barri, and disgraced themselves by returning a verdict of manslaughter only. Count Rice, upon his recovery, was indicted for the murder notwithstanding this verdict. On his trial he entered into a long defence of his conduct, pleading the fairness of the duel, and its unpremeditated nature; and, at the same time, expressing his deep regret for the unfortunate death of Du Barri, with whom for many years he had been bound in ties of the strictest friendship. These considerations appear to have weighed with the jury, and this fierce duellist was again found guilty of manslaughter only, and escaped with a merely nominal punishment.
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Leland writing in 1530
The Colour of the Water of the Baynes is as it were a depe blew Se Water, and rikith like a sething Potte continually, having somewhat a sulpherous and sumwhat a pleasant flavour. The Water that rennith from the 2 smaul Bahthes goit by a Dike into avon by West bynethe the Bridge. The Water that goith from the Kinges Bath turnith a Mylle, and after goith into Avon about Bath Bridge. In all the 3 Bathes a Man may evidently se how the Water burbelith up from the Springes.
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Jane Austen 1775 - 1817
On first entering Bath, Jane Austen wrote:
"The first view of Bath in fine weather does not answer my expectations; I think I see more distinctly in the rain. The sun was got behind everything, and the appearance of the place from the top of Kingsdown was all vapour, shadow, smoke, and confusion."
Catherine Morland of Northanger Abbey describes Bath:
"Here are a variety of amusements, a variety of things to be seen and done all day long, which I can know nothing of there...I really believe I shall always be talking of Bath--I do like it so very much... Oh, who can ever be tired of Bath."
Henry Tilney tries to disillusion Catherine Morland of Northanger Abbey:
"Bath, compared with London, has little variety, and so everybody finds out every year. For six weeks I allow Bath is pleasant enough; but beyond that, it is the most tiresome place in the world. You would be told so by many people of all descriptions, who come regularly every winter, lengthen their six weeks into ten or twelve, and go away at last because they can afford to stay no longer."
In Persuasion Anne Elliot may have expressed Jane's true feelings of Bath:
"Anne disliked Bath, and did not think it agreed with her." Again, she..."dreaded the possible heats of September, in all the white glare of Bath." (all the buidings
when new were white and Jane complained that all the glare hurt her eyes)
As a girl, Jane had written:
"When first we came, all the umbrellas were up, but now the pavements are getting very white again." (17th May, 1799)
Mary Musgrove makes a similar remark:
"What dreadful weather we have had! It may not be felt in Bath, with your nice pavements; but in the country it is of some consequence."
Admiral Croft in Persuasion said that Bath suited him very well:
"We are always meeting with some old friend or other; the streets full of them every morning; sure to have plenty of chat."
Isabella Thorpe of Northanger Abbey felt differently:
"Do you know I get so immoderately sick of Bath, your brother and I were agreeing this morning that, though it is vastly well to be here for a few weeks, we would not live here for millions."
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Pierce Egan - "Walks through Bath..." 1819 1772 - 1849
On crossing the CIRCUS, to the right is Bennet-Street, contiguous to Saville-Row and Alfred-Street, in which are the various entrances to the UPPER (or NEW) ROOMS. The first stone of these beautiful, if not unequalled, Assembly Rooms in the kingdom, was laid on the 24th of May, 1769, by that ingenious architect, inheriting all his fathers talents, the junior John Wood, Esq. and built under his direction from the subscription of seventy individuals, at the cost of £20,000, and were opened for the reception of company in 1771. The elegance of the ball-room astonishes every spectator, it is 100 feet 8 inches long, 42 feet 8 inches wide, and 42 feet 6 inches high. The ceiling is beautiful, ornamented with pannels with open compartments, and from which are suspended five superb glass chandeliers: and the windows from which the rooms receive daylight, are on a ball-night covered with boards painted with ornaments on them to correspond with the uniformity of the other side of the room. The walls are also painted and decorated in the most tasteful style; and the Corinthian columns and entablature resemble statuary marble. At each end of the room are placed, in magnificent gilt-frames, the most splendid looking-glasses that could be procured to give effect to the general brilliant appearance. The whole suite of rooms are furnished in the same elegant style to correspond. In the Octagon Card-Room, 48 feet in diameter, is a fine likeness of Captain Wade, painted by Gainsborough; and likewise a portrait of Richard Tyson, Esq. done by James. The other Card-Room is 70 feet long and 27 wide. In 1813, a capacious and elegant Reading-Room was added to it by the present Renter, Mr. Stroud, which is fitted up with the best maps, newspapers, books of reference, &c. The admission to this room is so convenient, that it does not interfere with the company on ball or concert nights. The terms of subscription to the Card and Reading Rooms, for the year are 26s. and for two months 15s. The above fashionable amusements are placed upon a far more moderate scale of terms than any other place of similar resort in the kingdom. In short, the whole establishment is truly complete, and cannot fail in proving the admiration of every visitor at Bath.
Captain Wade was the first master of ceremonies here, but who alternately presided at both rooms, till July 1777, when an affair of gallantry compelled him to relinquish his lucrative office. Seven candidates immediately offered themselves on the abdication of Mr. Wade. It was however at length compromised, that Mr. Dawson should preside in the room of Capt. Wade; and Major Brereton to officiate as M.C. at the Lower Rooms. At the expiration of three years the latter retired from his office, and was succeeded by Richard Tyson, Esq. from Tunbridge-Wells. In 1785, the latter gentleman was translated to the New Rooms on the resignation of Mr. Dawson: and James King, Esq who had highly distinguished himself in the British army in America, was elected without opposition to the Lower Rooms. In 1805, Mr. Tyson, to the regret of the visitors at Bath, resigned his situation, and was succeeded by Mr. King; and the Lower Rooms received Mr. Le Bas, as Master of the Ceremonies, from Margate; but this gentleman, after an ineffectual struggle of three years, was compelled to retire, owing to the deserted state of the rooms. In 1810, some warm friends to the original establishment, roused from their apathy, placed the above Assembly on an improved footing, and on the 1st of November, Francis John Guynette was unanimously elected Master of the Ceremonies. After a short reign, Mr. Heaviside succeeded the above gentleman. On the death of Mr. King, at Cheltenham, October 16, 1816, five candidates offered themselves, and an election took place for this lucrative and respectable situation, on the 21st of November; but on the previous day Captains Marshall and Thornhill resigned. The election fell on Captain Wyke, whose numbers were 258; Mr. Heaviside 195; and Mr. Madden 110. Mr. Heaviside continued to preside as M.C. at the Lower Rooms, till Captain Wyke retired from his office to fill an important situation abroad; when he was translated to fill the above Captains place, where the polite and gentlemanly conduct of Mr. H. is highly appreciated, by the elegant visitors of these unrivalled assemblies.
The following Rules and Regulations, published by the Master of the Ceremonies, are hung up in the NEW ASSEMBLY ROOMS.
The public amusements during the season are as follow:----
Monday Night........Dress Ball.
Thursday Night........Fancy Ball.
Friday Night........Card Assembly.
N.B. The Rooms are open every day (Sunday excepted) for Cards.
Bath, New Assembly Rooms,
Nov. 13, 1816.
At a Committee authorized by a General Meeting of the Subscribers to the Dress and Cotillon Balls (which was held yesterday pursuant to public advertisement) to form such rules and regulations, relative to the amusements at these Rooms, as might appear to them most beneficial to the public at large.
Col. S. COURTENAY, in the Chair.
RULES:---1. That the power of direction and controul, as to the amusements at these Rooms, is vested in such ladies and gentlemen as shall subscribe both to the Dress and Cotillon Balls.
2. That not less than nine subscribers to the balls be competent to call a general meeting upon any business relative thereto; the said subscribers to leave a summons, signed with their names, upon the table in the lobby, for the space of one full week previous to such meeting; which summons shall also express the particular purpose for which such meeting shall be called, and be advertised in the Bath Newspapers.
3. Resolved , That these and all future regulations agreed to in general meetings, be inserted in the book containing the subscribers names, signed by the chairman of the meeting for the time being; such rules and regulations not to be altered by any authority, on any pretence whatever, but at a General Meeting of the Subscribers; and that one copy of these rules and regulations be deposited with the Master of the Ceremonies for the time being; and another with the Renter of the Rooms, to be produced at any time when a meeting of the committee, or of the subscription to both Balls, shall be assembled; or, when three or more subscribers shall desire to see the same.
4. That the Renter of these Rooms have agreed to furnish lights, music, &c. for twenty-two Dress Balls, (including the two Balls for the Master of the Ceremonies, and the Ball on the night of the Kings Birth-day,) and twenty five Cotillon Balls, no annual account of expenditure will be required of him.
SUBSCRIPTIONS and ADMISSION.
5. That a subscription of 1l. 10s. to the Dress Balls shall entitle the subscriber to three tickets every ball-knight; one for the subscriber, not transferable, and two for ladies. These two latter tickets will be transferable, on being endorsed by the subscriber, without which form the bearer will not be admitted. A subscription of 15s. shall entitle the subscriber to one ticket, not transferable.
6. That a subscription of 1l. to the Cotillon Balls shall entitle the subscriber to one ticket every ball-night: this ticket not transferable.
7. That no person whatever be admitted into the Ball-Rooms without a ticket; nor any visitor or stranger, unless he shall previously have inserted his name and place of abode in a book to be kept for that purpose, under the controul of the Master of Ceremonies.
8. The subscribers are respectfully requested to observe that their subscriptions cease when they leave Bath; and it would be of much public utility, if they would be pleased to give notice at the Rooms of their departure, which would prevent their tickets being improperly used.
RULES RELATING TO THE BALLS.
9. That the Balls at these Rooms do commence at eight oclock in the evening; a quarter of an hour before which time the Rooms shall regularly and properly be lighted up; and that the dancing shall cease at half-past eleven oclock precisely, except on the night of the Kings Birth-day, and on the nights of the two balls given for the benefit of the Master of the Ceremonies, when the time of dancing shall be unlimited.
10. That every person, on admission to these Rooms on ball-nights, shall pay sixpence for their tea.
11. That the three front benches at the upper end of the room be reserved for ladies of precedence, of the rank of Peeresses of Great Britain or Ireland.
12. That a reasonable time shall be allowed between the Minuets and Country-Dances for ladies of precedence to take their places in the dance; and that those ladies who shall stand up after the dance shall have commenced, must take their places successively at the bottom.
13. That no lady, after she shall have taken her place in the set, do permit another to come above her in the dance.
14. That ladies are to be considered perfectly free in regard to accepting or declining partners.
15. That it is the positive order of the Committee, that no servant whatever shall be admitted into the vestibule or gallery, on any occasion, or on any pretence whatever, on ball-nights.
16. That no gentleman in boots or half-boots be admitted into the Ball-Rooms on ball-nights, except Officers of the Navy, or of the Army on duty, in uniform; and then without their swords. Trowsers or coloured pantaloons not to be permitted on any account.
MASTER OF THE CEREMONIES.
17. That the Master of the Ceremonies do attend at a quarter of an hour before eight oclock on ball-nights to receive the company.
18. That the Master of the Ceremonies on observing, or receiving information of any persons acting in opposition to these resolutions, do signify to such person, that, as Master of the Ceremonies, it is his duty to see that proper decorum be preserved, and these orders obeyed; in the proper and impartial execution of which duty he will be supported by the subscribers at large, Resolved,---That these regulations be printed, framed and glazed, and fixed in a conspicuous part of the Rooms, for public information; not to be taken down on any pretence whatever, in order that they may remain as a public document.
Lt.- Col. Anstey, Gen. Johnson,
Lt.- Col. Brown. Lt. - Col. Mackenzie,
W. L. Caldecot, Esq. Capt. Mainwaring,
R.N. J. Choppin, Esq. Gen. Morrison,
Col. Courtnay, Rev. Dr. Walsh,
Gen. Sir T. Dallas, K.C.B. Tho. Wilkinson, Esq.,
H. Deacon, Esq.
C. S. COURTENAY, Chairman
NEW ARTICLES AT THE NEW ROOMS.
Bath Upper Assembly-Rooms, December 14, 1816. At a meeting of the Committee to these Balls this day, it was unanimously resolved:--
A person inadmissible to these rooms having been admitted to the Dress ball, on the night of the 12th instant, and having in consequence been desired by the M.C. to withdraw, the Committee feel themselves bound to express their approbation of the conduct of the M.C. on that occasion.
And it having been represented to the Committee, that many improper persons have at various times obtruded themselves into these assemblies, it is unanimously resolved, that no Clerk, hired or otherwise, in this city and neighbourhood--no person concerned with the retail trade--no theatrical nor public performer by profession, shall be admitted.
And as a further instruction to the M.C. and with a due regard to the selection of company, which the Committee feel should be scrupulously attended to, he is hereby directed to desire any person, whom from circumstances he may deem inadmissible, to withdraw immediately; and in case of non-compliance with his request, it is ordered that he report the same to the Committee.
C. S. COURTENAY, Chairman.
Bath Upper Assembly-Rooms, December 23, 1816, at a Committee to these Balls, held this day, it was unanimously resolved:
1. That from the earliest institution of these Rooms, the regulations relating to dancing, and all points of etiquette at the Balls, having been left to the M. C. for the time being, and that the rules and orders suggested by him as to these having been invariably acquiesced in, and acted upon by the company frequenting the balls.
2. That the same authority, so exercised by all preceding Masters of the Ceremonies, belongs of right to every successor to this office; and that it is incumbent upon the subscribers (inasmuch as they must be desirous of promoting good order and decorum in these assemblies) to conform to the regulations of the M.C. and to support him in their execution.
3. That the Master of the Ceremonies is not accountable to any individual whatever, who may dispute or object to the established regulations; but in case of any misunderstanding arising from these, or other matters connected with the balls, a reference must be made to the Committee of General Management, appointed annually by the subscribers at large, and all differences amicably submitted to them for their consideration and decision.
4. That any alteration or differences respecting the regulations of the balls, either at the balls, or any subsequent period, (as they tend to disturb the harmony so requisite amongst the subscribers,) will be considered as a breach of the orders of the Committee and noticed accordingly.
C. S. COURTENAY, Chairman.
What joy at the ball, what delight have I found,
By all the bright circles encompassd around!
Ive read how the goddesses meet all above,
And throng the immortal assemblies of Jove;
When joind with the Graces, fair Venus appears,
Ambrosial sweet odours perfume all the spheres;
But the goddess of Love, and the Graces and all,
Must yield to the beauties Ive seen at the ball;
For Jove never felt such a joy at his heart,
Such a heat as these charming sweet creatures impart.
In short---there is something in very fine women,
When they meet altogether---thats quite overcoming.
But, lo! on a sudden what multitudes pour
From Cambrian mountains, from Indias shore;
Bright maidens, bright widows, and fortunate swains,
Who cultivate Liffeys sweet borders and plains;
And they who their flocks in fair Albion feed,
Rich flocks, and rich herds, (so the gods have decreed),
Since they quitted the pleasanter banks of the Tweed.
Yet here no confusion, no tumult is known,
Fair order and beauty establish their throne.
But hark! now they strike the melodious string,
The vaulted roof echoes, the mansions all ring;
At the sound of the hautboy, the bass, and the fiddle,
SIR BOREAS BLUBBER steps forth in the middle;
Like a holyhock, noble, majestic, and tall,
SIR BOREAS BLUBBER first opens the ball:
How nimbly he paces, how active and light!
One never can judge of a man at first sight:
But as near as I guess from the size of his calf,
He may weigh about twenty-three stone and a half.
Now why should I mention a hundred or more,
Who wen the same circle as others before,
To a tune that they playd us a hundred times oer?
But who is that bombazine lady so gay,
So profuse of her beauties in sable array
How she rests on her heel, how she turns out her toe,
How she pulls down her stays, with her head up, to show
Her lily-white bosom that rivals the snow!
Tis the widow QUICKLAKIT, whose husband last week,
Poor STEPHEN, went suddenly forth in a pique,
And pushd off his boat for the Stygian creek.
Poor STEPHEN! he never returnd from the bourn,
But left the disconsolate widow to mourn.
Three times did she faint when she heard of the news!
Six days did she weep, and all comfort refuse;
But STEPHEN, no sorrow, no tears, can recall;
So she hallows the seventh, and comes to the BALL.
For music, sweet music, has charms to control,
And tune up each passion that ruffles the soul;
Twas music that brought a mans wife from Old Nick,
And at BATH has the power to recover the sick!
The SUBSCRIPTION CONCERTS are also held at the Upper and Lower Rooms, under the direction of the celebrated flute-player, Mr. Ashe, since the death of the all-admired RAUZZINI. Mrs. Ashe is also well known to the musical world, from her eminent vocal abilities. Bath, for the last sixty years, has been highly distinguished for the superiority of its concerts, and its sound musical character. These concerts were in great reputation under the superintendence of the scientific LINLEY, and his rarely-gifted musical family, consisting of T. Linley, jun. Miss E. Linley, (afterwards Mrs. Sheridan,) Mrs. Tickell, and Miss M. Linley; and the names of Guest, Crotch, &c. may be added to the above performers without any decrease of fame: but it seems they did not arrive at that finished perfection (for which they have been so highly praised) till after RAUZZINI, accompanied by La Motte, the celebrated violin-player, had made Bath their residence. Under the direction of the former they flourished beyond all precedent, and the great musical capacity exhibited in them extorted admiration from the first judges of musical compositions in the kingdom. As a composer, RAUZZINI possessed talents of a high order; but, as a teacher, the names of Braham, Signora Storace, Incledon, Mrs. Mountain, &c. &c. as his pupils, sufficiently evince his talents in this respect without any farther eulogium on his merits as a musician.
The concerts consist of nine performances, the terms of which are as follow:---
A subscriber of £5 ; 15: 6 is entitled to three tickets for each concert, all of which are transferable to ladies only.
A subscriber of £4 : 10 : 0 is entitled to two tickets for each concert, both transferable to ladies only.
A subscriber of £2 : 12 : 6 is entitled to a ticket for each concert, transferable to a lady only.
For the accommodation of strangers, subscriptions are also received for part of the concerts, on the following terms:---
A subscriber of £3 : 3 : 0 will receive three tickets for each of the four concerts following such subscription, transferable to ladies only.
A subscriber of £2 : 6 : 0, two tickets, transferable to ladies only, for each of the four concerts following such subscription.
A subscriber of £1 : 6 : 0, one ticket, transferable to a lady only, for each of the four concerts following such subscription.
Non-subscribers to pay 8s. to each concert. Top of Page
The Lower Rooms - Pierce Egan
The original elegant suite of public rooms, which form one of the most lively and interesting features of Bath, so conspicuously towards supporting the prosperity of the old city, were formerly part of the estate of the late Duke of Kingston, but now belonging to Earl Manvers. Since their first erection they have undergone a variety of alterations and improvements, and in 1750 they were almost rebuilt. The assembly-room is 90 feet long, 26 broad, and 34 high. The card-room adjoining to it is 60 feet in length, and 30 in breadth. It has a reading-room, well furnished with maps, books, reviews, newspapers, &c. An apartment is also devoted to the games of chess and backgammon; and another for billiards. The rooms are totally distinct from each other. The terms are £1: 6s. for the year, always ending on the 30th of September; and for six months, £1. It is now two separate establishments, one of which is elegantly fitted up for the accommodation of the Bath and West of England Club. The latter invite the company to the amusement of a fancy or undress ball on Tuesday, and a dress ball on Friday nights, during the winter season. There is some little variation in these rooms from the upper. Those balls held on Tuesday nights are continued to the hour of twelve; and, the day promenade is heightened by a most delightful view of the country contiguous to Bath.
Till the year 1771, the KINGSTON ROOMS continued to be the only place of public resort; but, upon the opening of the Upper or New Rooms, the influence and attraction of the latter, though gradually operating as a great drawback to its company, in fact so seriously, that in 1810, it was deemed necessary to lay out a large sum of money in splendid decorations, in order to revive and create attention. A grand portico was also added to its entrance, the architecture of which is particularly admired: and Earl Manvers has also made carriage-roads to this new entrance, over part of the North and South Parade, and also from Stall-Street, at a considerable sacrifice of his land and houses, in order that this old spot might not suffer neglect, and over which the English Roscius observed, with much animation, the genius of Bath would always hover and preside. The visitor is much delighted in viewing these elegant rooms, at which the balls and amusements are regulated by the following rules, adopted at a general meeting of the subscribers, who also possess the exclusive right of voting at an election of the Master of the Ceremonies.
KINGSTON ASSEMBLY ROOMS, November 19th, 1816
In order to preserve decorum, and maintain respectability at the balls, at these rooms, resolved, That every ticket transferred to a lady shall bear the name both of the lady and the subscriber transferring the same, otherwise it can on no account be received. That non-subscribers may be admitted to the balls on being introduced by a subscriber, or by leaving their names at the rooms for the master of ceremonies. The renter having agreed to furnish the music viz. 1 harp, 4 violins, 1 violincello, 2 clarinets, and 1 tambourine, for thirty balls, including the master of the cereminoes winter and spring balls, resolved, That these rooms shall be opened for the reception of the company at eight oclock in the evening, a quarter of an hour before which time they shall be regularly and properly lighted up; and, the master of ceremonies shall attend to receive the company, and an overture be played by the band at half-past eight oclock; after whic hthe dancing shall commence, and cease at twelve oclock precisely, although in the middle of a dance. That the upper benches shall be reserved for ladies of the rank of peeresses. That ladies, according to their precedence, shall be entitled at all times to their appropriate places at the top in the set; but other ladies standing up after the dance is commenced, shall take their places at the bottom of the set; and every lady who shall have danced down the set, is expected tnot to sit down till that dance shall be finished. That ladies may change partners every two dances. That it be left at the option of the ladies to dance with whom they please; and their declining any particular partner shall not prevent their dancing with another. That no gentleman be admitted in boots, half-boots, coloured pantaloons, or twowsers, unless an officer in uniform and on duty, and then without their swords. That every person pay sixpence for their tea on ball-nights. Ladies proposing to dance minuets, shall announce their intentions to the master of the ceremonies on the day preceding the ball, and shall be in the rooms appropriately dressed punctually at half-past eight oclock. That no person shall be allowed to insert their names as subscribers, or be admitted as visitors to these balls, who carry on any occupation in the retail line of business, the master of the ceremonies ball-nights excepted. The master of the ceremonies shall use his utmost endeavours to enforce the several foregoing resolutions, and be well supported by the subscribers in the performance of his duty. TERMS.---A subscription of 14s. will entitle the subscriber to admission on each ball-night.--A subscription of 26s. will entitle the subscriber to admission on each ball-night, and lso to two tickets transferrable by endorsement to ladies only.
The present master of ceremonies is Captain MARSHALL, who was elected to this situation in November, 1817 Top of Page
The Pump Room - Pierce Egan
The lady in ANSTEYS New Bath Guide, thus expresses herself: ---
Delcard she was shockd that so many should come, To be doctord to death, such a distance from home, At a place where they tell you that water alone
Can cure all distempers that ever were known!
The scene from grave to GAY is now changed with almost the general celerity of harlequins bat, and epitaphs and monumental inscriptions no longer operate upon the feelings, but are banished for the lively gaiety which the fashionable throng and music affords to the mind of the spectator upon setting his foot into the Great Pump-Room:
Ods-bobs! how delighted I was unawares,
With the fiddler I heard in the room above stairs; For music is wholesome, the doctors all think
For ladies that bathe, and for ladies that drink;
And thats the opinion of Robin, our driver,
Who whistles his nags while they stand in the river; The say it is right that for every glass
A tune you should take that the water may pass;
So while little Tabby was washing her rump,
The ladies kept drinking it out of a pump.*
* With all due deference to this playful and lively satirist, upon inquiry it turns out that he has exercised his wit somewhat at the expense of truth. The GREAT PUMP - ROOM was originally built under the auspices of Mr. Nash, in 1704; in 1751 it was enlarged; and, in 1786, its handsome portico, stretching in a northerly direction, was added to it. The elegant western frontispiece, which is a considerable ornament to the structure, appeared in 1791. The Old Pump- Room was taken down in 1796, and the present handsome building was erected upon its site, at the expense of the corporation. In 1813 it also received fresh painting, and tasteful improvement. it is in length 60 feet; but, including the recesses at the ends of the room, it is 85. In width 46 feet, and 34 high. The interior is set round with three-quarter columns of the Corinthian order, crowned with an entablature, over which is a covering of five feet. The light is conveyed into it by two ranges of windows. A time-piece, given by the late Mr. TOMPION, is placed in the recess at the east end. A marble statue of NASH, by Hoare, is also seen in the niche contiguous to the above. A gallery for the musicians is erected at the western end; and in the centre of the southern side of the room is the pump, from which the waters issue out of a marble vase; and on each side is a fire-place. The outside of the building is finished to correspond, and upon the architrave the following Greek inscription in letters of gold appear:
which is an extract from the opening of the first ode of Pindar, and bears the following literal translation: --
Water! of elements the best!
By order of the Governors of the General Hospital, the following pathetic inscription is painted in letters of gold upon the pump in the room, from the pen of the late CHRISTOPHER ANSTEY, Esq:
THE HOSPITAL IN THIS CITY,
Open to the Sick Poor of every part of the World, To whose Cases these Waters are applicable, (The Poor of Bath only excepted,) Was first established, and is still supported, by the Charitable Contributions of the Liberal and Humane.
Oh! pause awhile, whoer thou art, That drinkst this healing stream;
If eer compassion oer thy heart Diffusd its heavenly beam;
Think on the wretch whose distant lot This friendly aid denies;
Think how in some poor lonely cot He unregarded lies!
Hither the helpless stranger bring, Relieve his heartfelt woe,
And let thy bounty, like this spring, In genial currents flow:
So may thy years from grief, and pain, And pining want, be free:
And thou from heavn that mercy gain The poor receive from thee.
The following lines, written by the ingenious Dr. Harrington, in imitation of Spenser, are framed and glazed, and also hung up near the pump:---
AWHYLE ye druynke, midst age and ache ybent,
Ah creeps not comfortless besyde our streame,
(Sweete nurse of hope;) afflictions downwarde sente,
Wyth styll smalle voyce, to rouze from thryftless dreame;
Each wyng to prune, that shyftythe everie spraie
In wytless flyght, and chyrpythe lyfe awair.
Awhyle ye lave--such solace may be founde;
When kynde the hand, why neath its healynge favnte
Payne shall recure the heartes corrupted wounde;
Farre gonne is that which feelethe not its playnte.
By kyndrede angel smothe, BETHESDA gave
New vyrtues forthe, and felte her troubledde wave.
Thus drynke, thus lave -- nor ever more lamente,
Oure sprynges but flowe pale anguishe to befriende;
How fayre the meede that followeth contente!
How bleste to lyve, and fynde such anguishe mende.
How bleste to dye -- when sufferynge faithe makes sure,
At lyfes high founte, an everlastyne cure!
An excellent band of music, during the season, plays from one to half-past three oclock every day, in this elegant and spacious room, which is open from an early hour in the morning till four in the afternoon; and, during the time of performance of the band, the room is well filled with company. The remuneration for drinking the water here is left entirely to the liberality of the visitor; no specific demand being made. To those persons who are fond of bustle and gaiety, this promenade in the Pump-Room will be found highly attractive. In no place in Bath does an hour pass away more agreeably. Top of Page
Sydney Gardens - Pierce Egan 1819
The Entrance to Sydney Tavern and Gardens has to boast of much respectability; and the tavern is a capacious and elegant erection. SYDNEY-GARDENS is one of the most prominent, pleasing, and elegant features attached to the City of Bath.
The hand of taste is visible in every direction of it; and the plants and trees exhibit the most beautiful luxuriance. Upon gala-nights, the music, singing, cascades, transparencies, fire-works, and superb illuminations, render these gardens very similar to Vauxhall. The Orchestra is close to the back of the Tavern, neatly arranged and elevated, with a large open space before it, well gravelled. The gradual ascent of the principal walk, that leads to the top of the gardens up to a half-circular stone pavillion, which is paved and covered in, with a seat round it, and supported by several stone pillars, upon a gala-night has a most brilliant effect, from the numerous variegated lamps with which it is ornamented. The walks are all well rolled and gravelled; and seats and places for refreshment are to be met with in various parts of the gardens. The view, when seated in the above pavillion down to the orchestra, across the arches covered with lamps, gives it a very captivating appearance. Upon those nights set apart for promenading only, a military band attends; and music also enlivens the scene, when public breakfasts are given. There are also several swings, adapted for the ladies; and others for gentlemen. Numerous covered-in boxes; and several alcoves formed with much botanical taste, grottos, &c. render this promenade highly attractive during the summer evenings. In the most retired parts of the gardens one of these grottos, it appears, was once the happy meeting-place, and dedicated to the tender passion, with a sincerity and animation unrivalled, by one of the greatest geniuses that ever adorned this or any other country, but who is gone to that bourne from whence no traveller returns, following the superior, amiable, and affectionate object of his heart, who had also long been previously consigned to the icy tomb of death. The remembrance of the late RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN, Esq. and his wife, Miss Linley, (termed the syren and angel of the concerts at Bath,) must render this grotto a most interesting feature to every lover of talent, elegance, and virtue, and in which the following copy of verses were written by the above patriotic senator, and left for that ladys perusal:
-- Uncouth is this moss-covered grotto of stone,
And damp is the shade of this dew-dripping tree;
Yet I this rude grotto with rapture will own;
And willow, thy damps are refreshing to me.
In this is the grotto where DELIA reclind,
As late I in secret her confidence sought;
And this is the tree kept her safe from the wind
As blushing she heard the grave lesson I taught.
Then tell me, thou grotto of moss-covered stone,
And tell me, thou willow with leaves dripping dew,
Did DELIA seem vexd when HORATIO was gone?
And did she confess her resentment to you?...
(this continues for about 10 more verses) Upon the whole, SYDNEY-GARDENS must be viewed not only as a great ornament to Bath, but is another, among the numerous proofs of the great anxiety of the inhabitants to render the amusements of this elegant City, without a parallel in the kingdom! The Kennet and Avon Canal runs through the gardens, with two elegant cast-iron bridges thrown over it, after the manner of the Chinese; and the romantic and picturesque scenery, by which they are surrounded, is fascinating beyond measure. Great opposition, it seems, was originally made to the canal running through these gardens by the proprietor; but it gives such a variety to the walks, that its introduction is now viewed as a great addition. It would be a matter of some difficulty to point out a spot of ground so tastefully laid out as SYDNEY-GARDENS. Vauxhall, it is true, may boast of its superiority for brilliancy, and number of lamps, and vocal performers; but, in other respects, viewed as a garden, the competition would be perfectly ridiculous. The Labyrinth, shown here at three-pence each person, is an object of curiosity. The inducement to enter it is one of Merlins swings, which appears not only very prominent, but easy of access. However, it might puzzle any cunning person, if left to himself and without a clue, for six hours, to acquire the much wished for spot; and it is rather a difficult task when the explorer of the Labyrinth has the direction pointed out to him from a man stationed in the swing. The inns and outs necessary to be made, it is said, measure half a mile. When the swing is made, and the secret unravelled, the guardian of this sort of Fair Rosamonds bower conveys the visitor once more into the public walks; the variety of which, that continually meet the eye of the promenader are truly attractive. A most delightful piece of ground, like a bowling green, enveloped with trees, and a small natural cascade from a spring, cannot be passed with indifference. The company, generally, are of the most respectable description; and upon some of the gala-nights, upwards of 4000 persons have paid for admission, which is 2s. 6d. each. In fact, the most fastidious observer cannot find fault with SYDNEY-GARDENS, which have also another advantage to recommend them to the visitors of Bath, namely, in having a surrounding ride, for the accommodation of ladies and gentlemen on horseback, that commands beautiful and romantic views, and of being free from dust in the summer, and dirt in the winter. The terms of subscription for walking are for one month, each person, 4s.; for 3 months, 7s. 6d.; and the season, 10s. If two in one family, each 7s 6d; if three or more, each 6s. Non-subscribers, for walking, 6d. each time. Nursery-maids with children in arms, one subscription. Gentlemen and families may be accommodated with elegant apartments at Sydney-House. The terms of subscription to the ride, one month, 2s. 6d. each person. Three months, 6s. Six months, 10s. The year, 15s. Non-subscribers, 6d. each time. Top of Page
Excursion to Prior Park & Claverton Down - Pierce Egan 1819
IN starting from Great Pultney-Street, the visitor will, for a moment, turn aside from the mansions of fashion and elegance, to take a cursory view of the abode of depravity and misconduct, in order to render the view of this highly-famed city complete and impartial. At the bottom of Grove-Street, on the right, stands the BRIDEWELL of Bath, on a piece of ground 160 feet each way, the exterior of which is more like the residence of a gentleman, from its architectural taste, than the gloomy walls of a prison. It is from the iron bars across the windows that principally designates its character; but, disguise thyself as thou wilt, observes STERNE, still thou art a bitter draught! The interior is clean, though small; and the yards for the different degrees of crime too much confined for room. The small house in the middle of the whole area is kept solely for the confinement of the felons, but which appears scarcely big enough to contain a dozen persons. It is also a prison for debtors. Plans, it is said, are under the consideration of the Corporation to erect a New Gaol, or to enlarge the present prison; but its inhabitants, however, are seldom numerous, owing to its well-regulated police. In returning up Grove-Street, (which also contains the Girls Free-School, a most excellent institution, and under the immediate protection of the Rev. Mr. Warner,) an archway presents itself, which leads immediately to the side of the Avon; and, proceeding along the banks of the river, enjoying the view of the various fine elevations, the venerable abbey, &c., Waterloo-Place is soon passed, and, on turning to the left, the main street of Widcombe, this suburb of Bath is gained. This outlet has also to boast of the high-sounding names of Widcombe-Parade and Claverton-Place. Turning on the right, at the bottom of the Parade, the Poor-House, on a small hill, is pleasantly and healthfully situated. At a little distance from this spot is a large pair of gates, which protect the private road to PRIOR-PARK, the once celebrated seat of the benevolent RALPH ALLEN, Esq. On the left of which, upon a very high eminence, stands the back part of Widcombe-Crescent, a range of very handsome buildings. The prospect now becomes pleasing, from the sprinkling of elegant houses, particularly a small thatched Gothic cottage, upon a hill, on the right, which serves to show the excellent taste adopted by the builders of Bath. Pursuing a steady course, another gate is passed, which originally was called ALLENS WALK. The considerate disposition of this humane character had induced him, for the accommodation of the public, to erect, in several parts of this walk, stone seats; but all of which are now removed. A road to the left leads to Widcombe Church. On a very lofty eminence stands the fine seat of Mr. Tugwell, the banker. The spectator here becomes so enraptured with the surrounding scene, that for a moment he is lost in ecstasy in beholding the beauties of nature and art combined. To the right, on one side of the road, are fine lofty elm-trees, which, during the time of ALLEN, were growing on both sides, and their boughs so closely entwined with each other, as to form in the winter time a most singular but complete picture of a long Gothic arch. At an opening, a few yards further along the road, on turning round to take a look at the City, the Royal-Crescent appears with peculiar grandeur; in fact, the whole circle, for richness and luxuriance of prospect, defies recital. In peeping over a stone-wall, about four feet high, on the left side of the road, the pleasure-grounds beneath, belonging to PRIOR-HOUSE, appear in fine cultivation; and the water, and the foliage of the chestnut, fir, and elm trees increase the effect. On proceeding up the road, a slight view of the mansion-house appears, also the residence for the keeper, and upon an ascent on the left, an antique look-out. By the side of the road stands a piece of freestone, as a sort of sample, to show how very large some of them are brought from the quarries. It measures in height twelve feet, and three in breadth. A few steps farther, and the traveller experiences the pleasing sensation of treading upon classical British ground: a SPOT, that must ever prove dear to the lovers of literature, when it is remembered, that it was here the inimitable FIELDING produced his TOM JONES, (that standard of novels in the English language:) and to which may be added several literary works were also written by that most powerful enlightened scholar and wit Bishop WARBURTON. With these recollections, PRIOR-PARK-HOUSE becomes of the most interesting nature; and it cannot be viewed merely for its delightful situation, beautiful grounds, and distinguished architecture; nor passed over with the common routine of a gentlemans estate. From the virtues of its once liberal-minded proprietor, and the extraordinary talents of its inmates, such as POPE, FIELDING, and WARBURTON, it possesses far more sterling claims to respect and admiration.
PRIOR-PARK-HOUSE is so called from the circumstance of its having been built on land which formerly belonged to the prior of Bath, who had a grange, or farm, at a short distance from it, and a park that supplied the monastery with venison. It was erected by the celebrated Ralph Allen, Esq. in 1743, on a slope of land 100 feet below the summit of Coomb-Down, and 400 feet above the City of Bath; and is certainly one of the most magnificent freestone mansions, with respect to its outside, in the kingdom. A noble house forms the centre; from the extremities of which stretch two sweeping arcades, connecting with the main body, as many wings of offices, terminated by elegant pavilions, and forming a continued line of building of nearly 1300 feet in front. The style is Corinthian, raised on a rustic basement, and surmounted by a balustrade. From the plane of the centre part an extremely-grand portico projects, supported by six large and elegant columns. But all the majesty of the building is without. Within, every thing (if we except the Chapel, which is neat and elegant, and adorned with an altar-piece, by Van Deest) is little, dark, and inconvenient; and seldom has so much money been so injudiciously applied, as the enormous sum expended in the comfortless Palace of Prior-Park. Fielding laid the scene of the early years of Tom Jones at this place and has, also, in his work, given a picture of the beautiful situation of Mr. Allens house, the Allworthy of his novel. Making allowances for the fancy of an author, in an imaginary river, sea, distant island, and ruined abbey, the description is tolerably correct; at least, many of its most agreeable features are real. From the novel, it appears, the house stood on the south-east side of a hill, but nearer to the bottom than the top of it, so as to be sheltered from the north-east by a grove of old oaks, which rose above it, in a gradual ascent of nearly half a mile, and yet high enough to enjoy a most charming prospect of the valley beneath. In the midst of the grove was a vine-lawn, sloping towards the house, near the summit of which rose a plentiful spring, gushing out of a rock, covered with firs, and forming a constant cascade of about thirty feet, not carried down a regular flight of steps, but tumbling in a natural fall over the broken and mossy stones, till it came to the bottom of the rock; then running off in a pebbly channel, that with many lesser falls winding along, till it fell into a lake at the foot of a hill, about a quarter of a mile below the house, on the south side, and which was seen from every room in the front. Out of this lake, which filled the centre of a beautiful plain, embellished with groups of beeches and elms, and fed with sheep, issued a river, that for several miles was seen to meander through an amazing variety of meadows and woods, till it emptied itself into the sea, with a large arm of which, and an island beyond it, the prospect closed. On the right of this valley opened another of less extent, adorned with several villages, and terminated by one of the towers of an old ruined abbey, grown over with ivy, and part of the front which still remained entire. The left scene presented the view of a fine park, composed of very unequal ground, and agreeable varied with all the diversity that hills, lawn, wood, and water, laid out with admirable taste, but owning less to art than nature, could give. Beyond this the country gradually rose into a ridge of wild mountains, the tops of which were above the clouds. He has omitted, however, the splendid Palladian bridge at the bottom of the pleasure-grounds; and the striking view of Bath caught beyond this structure, which before the additions to the city, made within these last forty years, must have formed a very interesting feature in the prospect. The character which Fielding has given us of his patron is of so exalted a nature, that we should be tempted to believe the anticipation of the rich remuneration he received for his eulogium, £500, had made him paint beyond the reach of nature, did not general report, and local tradition, confirm the account of the novelist to its fullest extent; and united in assuring us, that Mr. Allen was one of the best as well as most fortunate of men .
Let low-born Allen, with ingenious shame,
Do good by stealth, and blush to find it fame.
The back part of PRIOR-PARK-HOUSE is also extremely elegant, and ornamented with six very lofty pillars of the Doric order; it is singular to remark, that the roof is made of stone, and also several of the window-sashes. The prospect from every part of this elegant residence captivates the beholder. On quitting the house a lodge is soon passed, contiguous to which are two roads, the left leading to Trowbridge, and the right to Bristol. Proceeding forwards, the traveller arrives at a spot of ground, upon which some remnants of rows of fir-trees still remain, originally intended, it appears, as a shade for persons in their carriages. In the time of the Worthy ALLEN, this place was a complete grove, and extended for a long distance; but since those generous days, and from its change of masters, profit and the cutting-down system have prevailed over any thing like public accommodation. In fact, PROIR-PARK-HOUSE, with all its present contiguous beauties, is but a mere skeleton, compared to what it originally was. At Isabella-Place, which is but a short distance from this rural spot, one of the finest views for extensive scenery that can possibly be imagined bursts upon the already delighted traveller: the immense chain of high hills, as far as the eye can stretch, have a grand and majestic appearance. On the left is Salisbury-Plain; next appears Warminster, and the White Horse cut out of the turf at Westbury under the plain, in Wiltshire, is seen without any difficulty. In the centre stands the unrivalled seat of the Marquis of Bath, called Longleat, the fine park and woody appearance of which tends to increase the beauty of the surrounding prospect; and the perspective view of Alfreds tower, erected on the abrupt termination of a very lofty hill, belonging to Sir Richard Colt, Bart. gives an interesting finish to this charming expanse of country. When the fascinated spectator can remove from this brilliant panoramic spectacle, he will pass Prospect-Place, a very neat row of houses, and which very properly merits its title. Byfield Buildings is also pleasantly situated, and a few paces forwards the visitor, if inclination permit him, may descend into the stone-quarries at Combe-Down, opened and worked by Mr. Allen. This sudden contrast is extremely pleasing: the vast depth of freestone which has been excavated from the earth; the lofty arches, or pillars, remaining in a craggy state, left by the excavators to let in light to the subterraneous passages and caverns which extend for a considerable way under the earth, most interestingly claim the attention of the explorer. The appearance altogether has an effect difficult to convey to the reader any thing like an adequate representation: several men are employed in breaking-up the freestone into different sizes, and which, it seems, yields with much placency to the tools used upon it; and carriages and horses are also seen among the openings, loading for the buildings of Bath. From its yellow appearance , it has a very clean and pleasing look. On regaining the daylight by a short circuit into the road, towards returning to Bath, a small enclosed spot is passed, which is used as a burying ground for the Jews. Several shafts are seen in the fields, raised about three feet from the ground, to let light into different parts of the quarry, to give facility to the excavators proceeding with their work. The prospect continues enchanting every step, and a small quarry, and in repassing the grounds of PROIR-PARK, some of the pieces of the stone measure 12½ feet long, by 3 feet 10 wide; on the left of which, at no great distance from the road, is a curious triangular building of freestone, in the Gothic style, erected by the late Mr. ALLEN, and used in his time as a look-out, which commands a fine view of the City and the adjacent country, and well worthy of inspection. It has the following inscription: ---
Memoriae optimi viri, RADULPHI ALLEN, positum,
Qui virtutem simplicemque colis, venerare hoc saxem.
Claverton Down, which is 400 feet above the City of Bath, and so distinguished for its beautiful extensive level of velvet turf, is soon gained. The views towards the north, south, and west, are peculiarly interesting. The Bath Races were formerly held here; and it is a most delightful situation. The shell of an antique castle, which appears to face every part of the City, and which is a conspicuous feature for some miles, was erected on this Down also by Mr. Allen. Near to this spot, about thirty years ago, a duel was fought by two Frenchmen of rank, who quarreled during the season at Bath, when one of them was killed. This circumstance occasioned considerable noise at the time. Continuing the walk across the Downs, a turnpike appears with three different roads connected with it. The left leads to Trowbridge; the right to Wells; and the direct line to Bradford. The high elm-trees, and the ivy growing over the stone walls on each side of the road, which continues for some distance, pleases the eye more than can be described. On the left of which is the sign of the Crown-Inn, but more generally known to the inhabitants of Bath as the Brass-Knocker; which, rather singular to observe, derives its designation from having the above appendage attached to the inn-door. Nearly opposite to which is Coombe-Grove, the mansion of the late William Vaughan, Esq. The Brass-Knocker is not only important from affording refreshment during this long walk to the traveller, but it also operates as a guide to him, in leading to a curiosity, which is highly deserving of notice, namely, THE AQUEDUCT, which unites the Kennet and Avon Canal with the Grand Junction. Here are two small stone bridges across the Somerset Coal Canal, which, it appears, has been reduced in size, on purpose to admit only the long narrow coal-barges from Tymsbury and Comerton. The view of the AQUEDUCT is noble and interesting; and connected with the other bridges, the river, and canals, gives an attractive effect to this part of the country. It has three arches; the middle one is wide and lofty, 40 feet at least from the water which it stands over. The dimensions of the other two are much less. it is build of free-stone, and is viewed as a fine piece of Grecian architecture. The traveller is now five miles from Bath, but the walk between the Canal and the Avon is so delightfully intersected with pleasing objects, occupying the mind so completely, that any thoughts about distance is quite forgotten. Some cottages on a high hill, at a place called Konkwell, produce a very pleasing effect. Upon an eminence, at a small distance, stands the Village of Claverton. This little hamlet is important to the visitor in several points of view: Claverton-House is a prominent feature to notice, from its fine specimen of architecture adopted in the reign of James I. It has an ascent of thirty steps, and is contiguous to the CHURCH. The latter place is a small Gothic building, but conspicuous principally from being the rectory of the late Mr. GRAVES, the author of the Spiritual Quixote, and several other publications of great merit. The above. Rev. gentleman held this rectory for the long period of 60 years, and died in 1807, at the advanced age of 90 years. He was a man of great benevolence; and through a very long life preserved a spotless character.
Can storied urn or animated bust,
Back to its mansions call the fleeting breath?
Can honours voice provoke the silent dust,
Or flatry soothe the dull cold ear of death?
About half a mile on the right of the canal is the very elegant mansion of Mr. Skryne, built in the Gothic style. The clean, light appearance of the freestone forms an excellent contrast to the fine trees contiguous to the house; and several sheepfolds also add to the picturesque scenery with which this situation abounds. On the banks of the river there is a large iron-pipe, which conveys the water from the Avon into the Canal, from the force of a machine when deemed necessary. Proceeding some distance down the river, on the left side of which an iron rail-way, from an immense steep height, is to be seen. It is curious to observe the iron carriages sent up and down without horses; and by the aid of machinery the vehicles change their positions midway, the full one running down to the barge in the canal, and the empty one making its way to the top again to receive its load.
Bath-Hampton Church soon appears after quitting the rail-way; the tower of which is covered all over with ivy. It reminds the spectator of Grays Elegy. The Village of Bath-Hampton, small, but neat appears in sight. Proceeding forwards, BAILBROOK-LODGE is perceived, delightfully situated upon a very lofty and commanding eminence; it is a most extensive and elegant mansion. The above institution is rather of a nouvelle description in this country, resembling the German Chapitres. It was established under the auspices of Lady King, about three years since, principally for decayed females, and also offering a desirable residence to ladies of very limited incomes; but it is maintained by the joint-contributions of the ladies residing at BAILBROOK-LODGE, without deriving any annual support from public endowment. It has a Lady President, merely to promote harmony and good order; as the inmates are all upon an equality. There is no limitation to age. The widows and daughters of clergymen, and of the officers of the Army and Navy, have an acknowledged preference over all other candidates; but none are admitted who cannot comply with the forms of a retired life, or who do not cheerfully assist in promoting benevolence and charity. it has to boast of the high patronage of several Duchesses, Marchionesses, Countesses, &c. by which means embarrassment is prevented; her late Majesty was one of its greatest patrons, and during her residence at Bath visited BAILBROOK-LODGE. It seems the Queen highly praised the mode with which this institution was conducted; and, united with the Princesses, contributed largely towards the fund, which is now placed at interest in the names of the following Trustees: The Earl of Shaftesbury, Earl Manvers, the Hon Gen. Vernon, and Sir B. Hobhouse, Bart. --- It has also the patronage of the Lord Bishops of Durham, St. Davids, and Meath; and the Earl of Sheffield.
On making towards home, part of Bath soon appears in sight from the houses on Bacon-Hill. New objects attract almost at every step the traveller proceeds. Along the banks of the Canal a new range of small neat residences are nearly finished; near to which are the swimming baths. In turning to the right of the Canal, Sidney-Place is soon gained, when the traveller will no doubt feel rather fatigued from this long, but truly interesting walk, upon his safe return to Great Pultney-Street.
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Theatre in Bath - Pierce Egan 1819
At the bottom of Barton-Street, on the right, is Beaufort-Square. As a place of residence it has no pretensions whatever, the houses being small and irregularly built, and the inhabitants, chiefly tradespeople. This square, as it is termed, is only important from its containing the grand entrance to the NEW THEATRE ROYAL, which has an elegant and attractive appearance, and is enclosed with iron rails, with a large open space gravelled before it.
What through our stage some few recruits may own,
As senseless as the boards they tread upon;
Though here, at times, some heroes may be found,
Who bid defiance both to sense and sound!--
Confounding every passage they rehearse,
Bad by degrees and miserably worse;
Yet in this soil, by favours sunshine reared,
Some buds of real talent have appeared;
And splendid STARS* now grace the London sphere,
Whose earliest rays were nursed and kindled here.
*It was upon the Bath stage that Mrs. Crawford, Mrs. Abingdon, Miss Brunton, Miss Wallis, Mrs. Siddons, and Miss Smith, first develloped their great talents; as did also Messrs. Henderson, Incledon, Edwin, Lovegrove, Murray, C. Taylor, and Elliston: and of a more recent date, the above Theatre has been distinguished with some performers of rising merit, among whom may be noticed, Mrs. W. Chatterley, and Messrs. Ward, Woulds, Mallinson, Blisset, W. Chatterley, &c.
The first regular erected Theatre in Bath was in the year 1730, and which ,it appears, did not, when filled, hold more than £30; but it was a most miserable concern, and so badly attended, that many of the principal performers were compelled to retire to rest with appetites not of the most enviable description. Such has been the vicissitudes of many of the great heroes of the Sock and Buskin, if their present eminence does not refuse the recollection of such days of poverty and nights of sorrow. However, when theatricals became rather more attractive, a New Play-House was erected, in Orchard-Street, by subscription; but this speculation soon met with an unexpected opposition from a Mr. Simpson, who patched up a sort of Theatre under the Great Ball-Room. This rivalry, as might be anticipated, did not last any great length of time, as ruin stared both the Managers in the face; when Mr. Simpson, with much propriety, ceased all opposition upon a substantial pension of £200 per annum.
In 1767, it became a THEATRE ROYAL, under the direction of the late JOHN PALMER, Esq. From this period, theatrical amusements rose rapidly into estimation, and obtained considerable patronage at Bath; and under the various managements of Messrs. ARTHUR, LEE, KEASBERY, and the late W. DIMOND, Esq. the performances not only arrived at such a degree of excellence, but ultimately proved a nursery for several of the greatest actors, both male and female, that have for the last fifty years adorned the stages of the metropolis with the highest specimens of histrionic talents. The late W. DIMOND, Esq. added to his abilities as a manager, was also an actor, both in tragedy and comedy, of the first rank. His son William, the author of the Hero of the North, and the Foundling of the Forest, Adrian and Orrilla, and several other popular dramatic pieces, independent of various poetical productions, has succeeded him in a share of the property and management of the Theatre; but which at present is placed under the able conduct of Mr. Charlton.
The Theatre, in Orchard-Street, was at length found too small for the accommodation of the great increase of fashionable company; and the present NEW THEATRE-ROYAL in Beaufort-Square and in Saw-Close, was opened in October 12, 1805. Its classical front, in the above square, was designed by Nath. Dance, Esq. and built under the direction of Mr. Palmer, a most ingenious and able architect, who has happily united convenience with elegance. The situation is central, and its approach extremely safe from its three distinct entrances. The exterior is handsome; but its interior is finished in such a high state of excellence, as to vie with any building of a similar description. Its ceiling, which is divided into four compartments, has to boast of some rich paintings by Cassalie, purchased at the memorable sale of Fonthill, by Mr. METHUEN, and who made them a present to the proprietors of the Theatre. The decorations are very splendid; and the colouring and gilt mouldings executed with much taste and effect. There are three tier of boxes. The private ones, which are twenty-six in number, are enclosed with gilt lattices. The tout ensemble of the Theatre has a light, elegant, and classical appearance, in consequence of the pillars (which are of cast iron) being placed at the distance of two feet from the front, by which the first row of each circle of the boxes appear as a balcony, and not connected with the building. The private boxes have also an elegant suite of retiring rooms; and the entrance to which is by a private house.
The length of the grand front in Beaufort-Square is about 125 feet; 60 wide, and 70 high: there are also various other buildings connected with the exterior, such as dressing and scene rooms, wardrobes, &c. The scenery is also excellent; and the machinery is equally good; in short, the above Theatre, from its size not being so extensive as those of Covent-Garden and Drury-Land, both the eye and the ear derive the necessary gratification of seeing, hearing, and comprehending the performances before them. It will hold nearly £350, at 5s. to the Boxes; 3.s. to the Pit; and 1s. 6d. to the Gallery. The days of performance are on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Top of Page
Sedan Chair Rates in Bath - Pierce Egan 1819
RATES FOR SEDAN-CHAIRS AND TWO-WHEELED CARRIAGES.---The former of these vehicles greatly added to the comforts of Bath, in not only securing from annoyance and exposure visitors to the public places of amusement; but, also, in proving a most desirable conveyance for the valetudinarian and invalid, in all sorts of weather, to any part of the City.
The chairs, in general, are neat and clean, and free from damp; and are under the perfect controul of the corporation, from whom they receive an annual license. The following rates are also affixed by the mayor and two justices:---
For carrying one person any distance not exceeding 500 yards......................................................... 0s 6d
Above 500, and not exceeding 1173 yards...................................................................................... 1s 0d
Beyond 1173 yards, and not exceeding one mile.............................................................................. 1s 6d
Beyond one measured mile, and not exceeding in whole one mile and 586 yards............................... 2s 0d
.Not exceeding one mile 1173 yards................................................................................................ 2s 6d
Not exceeding two measured miles.................................................................................................. 3s 0d
And for every 586 yards beyond...................................................................................................... 0s 6d
Any person may detain the chairmen in every fare, without paying any thing for it as follows, viz.
10 In a sixpenny fare..........
15 In a twelvepenny fare....
20 In an eighteenpenny fare..
25 In a two shilling fare.......
30 In half-a-crown fare........
35 In a three shilling fare....
And in every other fare or quantity of ground constituting an additional fare, any farther time not exceeding in each additional sixpenny fare, as above, five minutes.
All Fares to be charged double after twelve oclock at night. And, instead of 500 yards, 300 are only a sixpenny fare on hilly or ascending ground, whether upwards or downwards; but where the fare begins on plain ground, and ends on ascent, or begins on descent, and ends on plain ground, the chairmen must carry the full space of 500 yards.
Chairmen to be paid 6d. for each extra quarter of an hours waiting. Chairmen demanding more for their fare than they are entitled to, or refusing or declining to carry any fare when called on, or using any abusive or insulting language, shall forfeit 20s. or be suspended from using their chair for any time not exceeding forty days.
The mayor and two justices to direct the measurement of any distances in dispute, the expense of which to be paid by the chairmen, if the distance be less than they charge, and, if more, by the persons they carry Top of Page
The Groans of Samuel Sensitive, and Timothy Testy. With a few supplementary sighs from Mrs. Testy, and additional groans by Sir Harry Neville, Miss D. Testy, and little "Neddy" Testy. (1807 ed.)
The Recommendations of a public Lodging and Boarding-house--presenting, first, the wear and tear of your nerves from hearing "Mr. (Such a one's) Sarvant!" bawled through your ears from the bottom of the stairs at every half-minute, from 7 in the morning till 12 at night;--2. the outer door of the house at all times hospitably left wide open;--3. the state of the stairs, incessantly trodden by the unscraped feet of half the town; -- 4. the motley association, at the general dinner-table, of Irish captains, English gamesters, French prisoners, Scotch physicians, &c. &c.
In the course of your morning's saunter--walking side by side on the same pavement with the Colliers' poneys, and consequently with the Poney's colliers,--blundering against, or stumbling over the wheeled chairs of invalids--the loan of a bow (requiring prompt payment) from the Master of the Ceremonies twenty times in an hour, &c. &c.
Toiling for hours together from one end of the Pump-room to another, amidst the contending gabble of voices, and grunt of bassoons.---if you are for the Waters, taking them at the wrong hour, (or not even that, perhaps,) in consequence of following in the rear of hundreds who have seized all the passes before you.
At the Libraries---getting at the news of the day by scraps and snatches, from the pompous and empty harangues of the Quidnuncs around you; as to the papers themselves, who can hope for a glimpse at them, while-------- --------is devouring one, bespeaking another, transferring a third to a friend, and pinning down a fourth with his elbow.
In a Bath whirl-wind---the nozzle of the Circus-bellows blowing you into the Crescent---Item: going up Pultney street, while the North Wind is going down.
Your hack horse knocked up on Lansdown, long before you can reach the Monument; so that the charms of the Severn, and the Welsh hills, which had acted as a spur to you (although not to your steed) are to be taken on trust.
A gallop on Claverton down---paved, as it has been for ages, with broken bottles---the benevolent legacy of a certain farmer to all future generations of the riding gentry from Bath.
A Bath Week, taken down on the spot, during my last visit to this Town of Towns! (by Timothy Testy):
MONDAY.---Dined with the only sufferable set in the place,---and accordingly---party broken up, at the meridian of conviviality, by a Rout; or rather by a lame copy of the insipidities of London which go under that name. Made my escape (if such it could be called) to a Dress-ball---alias a public parade of finery, dullness, and etiquette. Condemned to sit out at least fifty minutes, all stalked to the same time; the gentleman (whom I need not point out) being one and individual throughout. At last, however, came the great treat of the evening---Country-dances; performed (not upon---that would have afforded some sport---but between) two ropes, half a mile long!---Lastly---as if all this were not enough---I was pressed by a party of restless Misses, two or three times in the course of the night, to take "the grand tour" with them; when I had already seen ten times more than I liked, from my own (comparatively) quiet corner.
TUESDAY.---After the usual diversity of morning enjoyments---Rout again!---Found my economy in playing a shilling-rubber severely punished by the situation of the table, viz. at the very bottom of the room;---your gradations of comfortable accommodation at a Bath party, rising or falling in the exact ration of your stake.
WEDNESDAY. The Concert.---Sat two hours in cold, silence, and darkness, by way of securing a place---i.e. an opportunity of estimating the inferiority of Bath to London, in the harmonic department. On the precious Concert-night, you must know, I had stood, almost the whole evening; till, at length, I had the good luck to find a vacant seat, immediately under a huge chandelier!---Mem: my new black coat presently turned to grey by the tears of the candles.
THURSDAY. Fancy-Ball.--- The name! if that were all.---but no---the thing was a thousand times worse still, consisting chiefly in seeing clusters of full-grown candidates for cotillons drilled into the figure for an hour at least, before the jumping began---and proving an awkward squad at last.
FRIDAY.--- Carried by mistake to a wrong party---which, I conclude, happens always, every house in every street being a fac-simile of its neighbour. N.B. Did not scent the blunder, till I had been gaping and fuming for half an hour from room to room, like a stray Chinese in the streets of London, and found myself received, on all sides, with a dumb stare, instead of a speaking smile.
SATURDAY. The Play.--- Saw a parcel of raw recruits for the stage, making the experiment (at my expense) whether they had any chance of ever being fit to be seen on the London boards.---On flinging out of the house, in the heaviest storm that ever fell---gave up one chair to this Lady, because she was old; another to that, because she was young; a third to one man, because he was weak, and ought to have it; and a fourth to another man, because he was strong, and would have it.---As to the latter gentleman, however, I pretty effectually settled his pretensions next morning, in Kings's-mead-fields, on a plan that brought our forces rather more upon the square. Top of Page
Bath stone is an oolitic limestone quarried since Roman times but to an extent neglected as a building material until the 18th century. This was when Ralph Allen and John Wood came together to build Georgian Bath. John Wood (1704-54) was the Bath-born architect with a passionate vision of what the city could become. Ralph Allen (1693-1764) had made his fortune devising a postal system which was adopted across the country. With his money he bought the Coombe Down quarry up the hill a mile and a half from Bath. The particular quality of Bath stone is that it is easily sawn and carved to make possible the intricate decorative work characteristic of Georgian Bath. To get the stone from the quarry Ralph Allen took on the Bristol engineer John Padmore who devised and built a railway from the quarry down the hill to the River Avon. The truck ran on a wooden rail but had metal flanged wheels and a brake. The truck was loaded with three tons of quarried stone and then run down the hill. The stone was lifted out by a crane hoist that Padmore had devised, then cut into shape and taken to the city centre by barge. The truck was drawn back up the hill by horses. The buildings were built of rubble stone and then faced with sawn ashlar blocks which, when correctly bedded, made a John Wood terrace look as if it came from a single block of stone. Exposed to the air the stone forms a natural protective crust which is quite resistant to erosion. The characteristic yellow was a great feature and, though blackened by smoke in the 19th century, it can easily be cleaned and restored to a sparkling condition.
Ralph Allen John Wood The Older
First levied in England in the year 1697 for the purpose of defraying the expenses and making up the deficiency arising from clipped and defaced coin in the recoinage of silver during the reign of William III. It was an assessed tax on the rental value of the house, levied according to the number of windows and openings on houses having more than six windows and worth more than £5 per annum. Owing to the method of assessment the tax fell with peculiar hardship on the middle classes, and to this day traces of the endeavours to lighten its burden may be seen in numerous bricked-up windows.The revenue derived from the tax in the first year of its levy amounted to £1,200,000. The tax was increased no fewer than six times between 1747 and 1808, but was reduced in I 823. There was a strong agitation in favour of the abolition of the tax during the winter of 1850, and it was accordingly repealed on the 24th of July 1851, and a tax on inhabited houses substituted. The tax contributed £1,856,000 to the imperial revenue the year before its repeal. There were in England in that year about 6000 houses having fifty windows and upwards; about 275,000 having ten windows and upwards, and about 725,000 having seven windows or less.
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The Royal Crescent
The land for this development was acquired by John Wood the Younger in 1766. It was meadow and pasture land outside the old city boundary. The building took place between 1767 and 1775. John Wood the Younger designed the crescent as a row of 30 lodging houses for the gentry coming to Bath for the season. The 30 houses have an almost totally uniform appearance and there are 114 Ionic columns to the front. No 1 Royal Crescent has been fully restored as a Georgian Town House and is open to the public. Fortunately the open space to the front of the crescent still exists as undeveloped and is often used for concerts, firework displays and hot air balloon ascents. The "Grand Old" Duke of York lived in No 1 in 1796. Pictures,both old and modern can be seen here.
The architect for Camden Crescent was John Eveleigh and it was built during the early 1790's . Unfortunately the land was subject to landslip and so what we now see is not the complete crescent. It was originally designed to have twenty two houses in a gentle curve, flanked by straight ends with five houses. Only the straight end at the west end of the crescent still exists. When looking at the crescent, one can see that the very grand centre is not in the centre at all, and the centre's pediment is held up by five Corinthian columns (very bad practice regarding classical architecture-there should be an even number of columns). Above the doorways can be seen a single elephant's head, which was a part of the coat of arms of Charles Pratt, Marquis of Camden:
Charles Pratt, 1st Marquis of Camden
A crescent in its own right, separated from Lansdown Crescent Somerset Lane. Designed by John Eveleigh and built in stages between1790 and 1830. Initially Eveleigh built two semi-detached houses without curved facades and then added on crescent shaped wings on either side. Hence the reason for the very dominant central feature with the unusual broken pediment on top. Somerset Place was badly damaged during the air raids of 1942, and the central houses were gutted by fire - fortunately the facades survived. Look out for the very grotesque looking masks on some of the doorway keystones!
Designed by Sanderson Miller and built in 1762 by Richard Jones. The castle is not real as its name implies, it is just a castellated front with nothing behind it; its towers are hollow and its windows blind. It looks fantastic up on the slopes above Bath, particularly at night when it's floodlit. It is no wonder that Ralph Allen had it built in such a position that he could see it through the windows of his house down in the city.
Commenced in 1728, and named after Queen Caroline, the consort of King George 2nd, it was completed in 1734. John Wood the older was the architect and he considered the square to be one of his masterpieces, particularly the north side which consists of seven very large houses in a palatial setting. It has a very large pediment supported by Corinthian columns, and, as Wood intended, provided very superior accommodation for visitors to the city. The other sides of the square are not so impressive - look out for the two doorways on the East side, and the two on the South side. The west side originally consisted of two matching houses with a larger one between them, set back with a large courtyard in front. This house which is gone now was home to Dr Oliver, inventor of the famed Bath Oliver biscuit. Jane Austen stayed in number 13 for a month in 1799, and John Wood lived in number 24. The obelisk in the centre of the square was built at the instigation of Beau Nash in 1738 to celebrate the visit to Bath of the Prince of Wales.
Built by John Palmer between 1789 and 1793, in my opinion the loveliest of the crescents in Bath. Built in a fantastic position overlooking Bath with fabulous views to the south. A flock of Jacob sheep graze the land in front of the crescent. Note particularly the restored iron lampholders in front of each doorway, and the snuffers outside nos 15, 16 and 17. No 20 was where William Beckford lived when he came to Bath in the 1820's. He also bought the house across the road and built the arch to join the two together. He also built an Islamic Pavilion in the garden of No 20. Shame about the roofline near the middle of the crescent altered in the late 60's with permission!!!! Nothing like as grand as the Royal Crescent, but where would you prefer to live?
Not visited often enough in my opinion. Lovely small crescent built in 1805 by Charles Masters?. Very plain front relieved by a parapet, balustraded over second floor windows in groups of three. The central windows on the first floor are blind because they are across dividing walls. The doorways of the fourteen houses are paired under decorated arches. Sir James Brooke, the "White Rajah of Sarawak" lived at No 1 as a boy.
Building was begun in 1817, but by 1831, nos 10 and 11 were still not completed. The architect was John Pinch and the crescent is far less flamboyant than the others in Bath. There are no central columns or pediment and hardly any decoration. The wrought iron balconies on the first floor are original, and note the canopies over some of the doorways and the lovely glass fanlights above the doors. A very simple crescent in a magnificent position with fantastic views over the golf course and to the south of Bath. Well worth a visit just to see its simplicity and its wonderful setting.
There has always been some sort of place of worship on this site. Before the present abbey, there were two earlier churches here. The first was Saxon, built by Offa, King of Mercia, and in this building, Edgar, the first king of all England, was crowned in 973AD. Following this was the enormous Norman cathedral which was about three times the size of the present abbey and built by John de Villula. By the end of the 15th century this cathedral was in ruins and hence work started in 1499 on the present Abbey. Under Oliver King, Bisop of Bath at the time. He was apparently inspired by a vision of the Holy Trinity with angels climbing to heaven up a ladder which had an olive tree and a crown at its foot. He also heard a voice in his vision which said "Let an olive establish the crown and let a king restore the churh." The bishop recognised the puns on his name and the symbols and the angels can be seen on the west front of the abbey, looking from the abbey churchyard. Make special note of the angels that are carved as if they are falling down the ladder. Most of what can be seen today is 18th and 19th century. Pop inside to see the wonderful vaulted roof and the memorial tablet to Beau Nash. If you are interested in the architecture and building of the abbey, the Bath Abbey vaults at the east end and underneath the building are well worth a visit.
The Assembly Rooms(Upper Rooms)
Designed by John Wood the Younger, the building started in 1769 and the rooms were opened to the public in 1771. It looks rather uninspiring from the outside, but the interior is fabulous and includes a ballroom, a tea room and an octagonal card room as well as an octagonal ante chamber in the middle. Visit the rooms just to see the opulence enjoyed by the visitors to Bath and also to see one of Bath's major attractions, the Museum of Costume. During the 19th century the rooms put on musical entertainment with such notables as Johann Strauss, Franz Liszt and Sir Arthur Sullivan appearing. However by 1921 the ballroom became a cinema and the tea room a sales room and market. The rooms were hit by incendiary bombs in 1942, and it wasn't until 1957 that they were restored to their former glory, reopening in 1963.
St James's Square
To be found just behind and to the north of Royal Crescent is one of the loveliest squares in Bath. Built by John Palmer between 1790 and 1794 on gently sloping ground. The terraces on opposite sides of the square match each other and have a garden area in the middle. The north and south sides have a central triangular pediment supported by Corinthian pillars with the houses on each end having a bowed façade. This is very similar to Lansdown Crescent, not surprising really as the same architect designed both. Look through the archway on the east side and note the lovely window. Did Dickens get his inspiration for his novel "The Old Curiosity Shop" from here? He certainly stayed with William George Savage Landor in number 35, and is said to have conceived the character of Little Nell whilst staying here.
Walter Savage Landor 1775 - 1864 Charles Dickens 1812 - 1870
Royal Mineral Water Hospital
The three Bath notables, Beau Nash, Ralph Allen and John Wood the older brought about the building in 1738. John Wood designed the building free of charge, Beau Nash raised the money and Ralph Allen provided the stone. It was first known as the General Hospital, then The Mineral Water Hospital with the Royal prefix added in 1887. John Palmer added the very heavy attic storey in 1793, and a vast extension was built on the west side in 1859. Note the carving of "The Good Samaritan" on the west extension, which Wood originally intended for the pediment on the original building which now contains a carving of the Royal Arms.
William Pulteney envisaged the development of Bathwick on the east side of the river and hence a bridge was needed to link to the city. His friend, Robert Adam, was commissioned to design it, work commenced in 1769 and the bridge was complted in 1774. The bridge is best viewed from North Parade Bridge, or down by the river. Unfotunately it has undergone many alterations from the original design with its small pavilions over the main pillars. This effect has been nullified by the raised roof line containing small windows. There are shops on either side of the bridge, and there is only one other like it in Europe, the Ponte Vecchio in Florence. If you want a shock, go behind Waitrose supermarket and look at the North side of the bridge!!
Robert Adam 1728 - 1792
Great Pulteney St
Crossing Pulteney Bridge brings you into probably the grandest of the streets in Bath, one hundred feet wide and one thousand one hundred feet long, with the Holbourne of Menstrie Museum(formerly the Sydney Gardens Hotel) at the far end. The hotel was built in 1796 and now contains paintings by Gainsborough and Turner, a collection of 17th & 18th century silver and some very fine ceramics including Wedgewood, Sevres and Meissen. The street was completed in the early 1790's, but unfortunately the developer, Thomas Baldwin, who had the vision of more fine streets and crescents leading off Pulteney St, went bankrupt with the collapse of the Bath City Bank in 1793. His vision was never fulfilled, hence the gaps between the blocks and the lack of building in William St, Sunderland St and Johnstone St. William Wilberforce, Napoleon 3rd, and King Louis XV111 of France all stayed in the street at one time or another.
William Wilberforce 1759 - 1833
John Wood the Older was commissioned by Ralph Allen to build him a country house in 1735, hence the existence of this Palladian mansion overlooking Bath. It is one of the finest examples of a large country house in early 18th century Palladian style in the country. It was completed in 1741 and Allen used it as a 'show house' advertising the products of his stone quarries.. Not only was the house built , but the landscape around developed in such a manner as to create a natural look. One of the landscapers involved was Capability Brown. Look down from the house to see the wonderful Palladian Bridge crossing the lake, anf if you are feeling particularly energetic walk down and see it up close. The house is now a private Catholic school and not open to the public, but you can walk in the grounds which are owned by the National Trust. Ralph Allen entertained many famous people at Prior Park - Alexander Pope, Gainsborough, Garrick, William Pitt the Older, and Henry Fielding who supposedly modelled his character Squire Allworthy in his novel "Tom Jones" on Ralph Allen.
Henry Fielding 1707 - 1754 Alexander Pope 1688 - 1744
Built in 1727 possibly by the architect Greenway, a traditional family manor house standing in its own grounds close to St Thomas a Becket Church. A lovely hidden part of Bath accessed from Ralph Allen's drive or Widcombe Hill. The grounds and the house can be glimpsed through the gates opposite the church in the old village of Widcombe. The house was built for Philip Bennet who later became MP for Bath. A very attractive south front with Ionic pillars, circular window, fabulous porch, statue in front and carved keystones over the windows make this, in my opinion, one of the most elegant houses in this area. Couple this with its idyllic tranquil setting - perfect!!
John Wood the Older had the idea of producing a magnificent place for the exhibition of Sports, to be called the Grand Circus. The foundation stone was laid in 1754, but unfortunately he died soon afterwards and the building was completed by his son.. The Colosseum in Rome was the model, and incorporated into the facade are the three classical orders of architecture, Doric pillars on the ground floor, Ionic pillars on the first floor, and Corinthian on the second floor. Note particularly the frieze around the top of the doors, and also the acorns on the balustrade at the top of the buildings(legend of Bladud). The centre of the Circus was originally cobbled, so no sports ever took place there. In the early 19th century the five plane trees that now dominate the Circus were planted by Dr William Falconer who lived at No 29. Gainsborough lived at No 17, William Pitt the Elder at Nos 7 & 8 and David Livingstone, William Thackeray and Clive of India all lodged in the Circus at various times.
The Guildhall was built to the designs of Thomas Baldwin in 1776. It was enlarged in 1895 when the dome was added. The pediment on the front of the building contains the city coat of arms. If you have the opportunity, go inside to see the magnificent Banqueting Room with its fabulous eighteenth century chandeliers( free entry!), and the Mayor's Parlour is worth a visit if you can find it open.
In the Kings Bath, within the Roman Baths, there stands a small statue which originally stood guard over the North Gate of the city. This statue bares the inscription: 'Bladud, son of Lud Hudibras, 8th King of the Britons, first discoverer and founder of these baths.'
The story behind the legend of Prince Bladud is truly fascinating.
"Prince Bladud was expelled from his father's kingdom as a result of contracting leprosy. The disease made him imperfect and as an imperfect Prince, could not be permitted to become king. Banished from his home, Bladud wandered the lands, moving from place to place looking for work. The only job he could find, was to look after a herd of pigs but through being in close contact with the animals, they too contracted a similar skin complaint. He did not wish the farmer, to whom the pigs belonged, to know this, so he asked him if he could take the pigs to the other side of the river, where the acorns were better.
One day Bladud was travelling close to the river Avon when he settled down near a steamy swamp. The pig's made their way to the warm waters and started to wallow, Bladud thought that the waters would help ease their wounds. When the pigs emerged from the swamp he was astonished to see no trace of the disease on their skins. Bladud amazed by the transformation decided to try out the swamp himself and immersed himself into the waters, instantly the leprosy left his body and he emerged cured. Overjoyed by his good fortune, Bladud returned to his father's court and was welcomed back as the prodigal son. When he was finally made King, he returned to the steamy swamp, and there built a spa, calling it Bladud from which the modern name of Bath is derived".
Who lived or stayed in Bath & Where
Inclompete as at 11th March 2004
Frederick Augustus, Duke of York
Major John Andre
Lord Clive of India
Lady Betty Cobbe
Thomas De Quincey
Vicomte Du Barrey
Dr William Falconer
Maria Ann Fitzherbert
Marie Gilbert, Countess Lansfeldt
Emma, Lady Hamilton
George Frederic Handel
Franz Joseph Haydn
Dr John Haygarth
Sir William Herschel
Admiral Earl William Howe
Walter Savage Landor
Lilliput Alley, Prior Park
Abbey Church House
5 Royal Crescent
1 & 16 Royal Crescent
4 Sydney Place,13 Queen Square,
27 Green Park Buildings,25 Gay St
20 Lansdown Crescent
22 The Circus
14 South Parade
93 Sydney Place
5 South Parade
14 The Circus
22 Marlborough Buildings
6 Green Park
35 St James's Square
8 Brock St
8 Royal Crescent
29 The Circus
27 Gt Pulteney St
9, The Corridor,23 Gay St
24 The Circus
8, Belvedere, 22 Charles St
53, Gt Pulteney St
11 North Parade
6 Edward St
3 Pierrepont St
Perry Mead Villa
15 Royal Crescent
19 New King St
71 Gt Pulteney St
12 South Parade
Pelican Inn, Walcot St
35 St James's Square, 3 Rivers St
9 North Parade
"Grand Old Duke of York"
Politician & Prime Minister
Lord Nelson's mistress
Astronomer, discovered Uranus
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