Thursday, May 03, 2012

A Taste of Bath

Hi everyone

I have been so busy during April that I have almost lost touch. First of all I had a deadline to meet for a duet – two books planned for the end of the year, but I can't say more about that at present!  Then I have been designing a new website and also I am starting my own blog, One Belle's Stratagem, to post odd notes and excerpts and background to my books.
I wanted to get all these things done by the end of April, but I was invited to talk at the West Country Writers Association Congress on the weekend of the 21st April, and since the Congress was in Bath I thought it an ideal opportunity to spend a few extra days looking around that wonderful city – especially since the book I've been working on is set there. Therefore all my deadlines had to be met by 20th April.  A tough job but I made it and could go off to Bath ready to enjoy myself.

I was staying at a beautiful old country hotel about two miles from the city centre, so it was much less of a problem to walk into Bath than to try and park there. The route was the London Road, so I had the chance to take pictures of the charming old buildings I saw along the way.  There were beautiful Regency villas like the one above, lovely terraces and a wonderful building (right) that is currently used by an undertaker, but was originally an eye and ear hospital in 1837 and dealt with wounded veterans of the Napoleonic Wars.   I have discovered that the bust above the entrance is Aesculapius, the Greco-Roman god of medicine.

Walking around Bath really gives one a feel for the place and I was equally enthralled by looking at the backs of the buildings, especially this one on the Circus – can you just see the small black wooden protrusion on the left – it is not a very clear picture and I apologise for that, but I have added an arrow pointing to the wooden construction.  That is an early "en suite".  Apparently it was to keep the noisome odours out of the house. But there was no plumbing so it contained a pot that the servants still had to carry downstairs through the house for the night-soil man to take away.

One of the real gems of Bath – but one that is probnably not included in the excellent free daily walking tours because it is at the top of a steep hill  – is Camden Crescent built by J Eveleigh between 1787 and 1794.  You can see from the picture that there is a beautiful pediment over some of the houses but this is not central, so obviously it is not the Palladian ideal.  Apparently the land was serious unstable, and the last five houses on the northern end collapsed and were never rebuilt.

I also visited Royal Crescent, the Assembly Rooms, the Royal Baths, etc. etc. etc….I could go on for pages and pages about Bath, but even after three full days walking around the city there is so much more to see and do.  

I will leave you with just one more snippet.  If you walk down Gay Street and look into the window next to the door of no 41, you will find yourself looking into a tiny room with a beautiful tiled alcove to one side. This is a powdering room, where a fashionable Georgian gentleman would have his wig powdered  before he sallied forth for the day.

Sarah Mallory


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Alison Morton said...

Lovely commentary, Sarah. I visited Bath in April, this time for a business conference. As we entered the town I loved spotting the street names so familiar to me by long and intense reading of Georgette Heyer's books.

My conference colleagues thought I was very knowledgeable until I started talking about specific buildings where characters lived, or streets where you could find the best mantua-makers. Then they thought I was a bit batty and dragged me off to one of the town's sophisticated bars for refreshment.

I particularly relish the Roman side of Bath, but for me the atmosphere of the city is overall one of calm, elegance and "human-ness".

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

Thanks Michale. Alison, I too love the way I feel familiar with Bath after reading GH's books. Just think, tho' when she saw it most of the city was black with pollution, not the lovely golden city the Georgians knew and we are just re-discovering.

Elizabeth Hawksley said...

Lucky you! Bath is indeed a beautiful city and I loved the quirky details you found. I'm glad to see that you had blue skies for at least part of your visit!

Melinda Hammond/Sarah Mallory said...

We managed to dodge most of the rain and when it did come we were prepared. Capt Wentworth was advised to get himself an umbrella, I found it more useful to have a wide-brimmed hat!

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