A Magnificent City of Georgian and Roman Architecture
By BRIAN WILSON
UK Travel Correspondent
Special to North Palm Beach Life
Bath is a fantastic city – the city full of Georgian Architecture and Roman Baths – Mo and I are so lucky to live so close to this beautiful World Heritage Site.
As a visitor you can stay in Bath itself – but you may well find parking is not only difficult to find - it can be expensive. So why not stay just outside Bath and drive in – or take public transport?
Only five miles from Bath you will find the lovely village of Box, snuggling in the Wiltshire Countryside – and here you can stay at Lorne House.
Guests appreciate the free off-street parking, the recently refurbished interior, beautiful solid oak floors, wonderful soft furnishings and stunning furniture - Lorne House is a stylish Bed & Breakfast providing visitors with an elegant charm and friendly welcome – your center for a relaxing break or a pleasant business trip. As for the breakfasts – they will “set you up for the rest of the day." Cooking is to a high standard (we know all this as the owners – Fran and Mike Ralli – are personal friends of ours.)
But why choose Box? Well apart from better value and more choice of places to visit – you can freely call upon public transport (bus) to take you into Bath, or you can use your own car. Fran and Mike will give you all the local advice and information you will ever need.
If you are a “train fan” then you will find that Lorne House is the place for you. It is just a few yards from the world famous Box Tunnel, one of Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s masterpieces. It is also the childhood home of the Rev. W J Awdry, author of "Thomas the Tank Engine" books
What to do in Bath? Well if you only have a short time then make sure you visit The Royal Crescent and The Circus.
These are two of Bath’s many beautiful buildings. From the center of Bath, walk into The Circus; designed by the architect John Wood, the Elder, who never lived to see his plans put into effect as he died less than three months after the first stone was laid. The whole Circus was completed circa 1766.
The Circus includes three classical Orders, (Greek Doric, Roman/Composite and Corinthian) one above the other, in the elegant curved facades. The Doric frieze is decorated with alternating pictorial emblems, including serpents, nautical symbols, devices representing the arts and sciences and masonic symbols. The parapet is adorned with stone acorn finials.
In 1800, the Circus residents enclosed the central open space as a garden, now home to a group of old plane trees.
Now walk along Brock Street that leads from The Circus to The Royal Crescent – have a meal at one of our favourite restaurants –The Circus Café – and you will find yourself at one end of The Royal Crescent. Take a look at the wide expanse of one of Bath’s gems.
Between 1758 and 1774, Number 17 at The Circus was home to Thomas Gainsborough and used as his portrait studio. But we must remember that Georgian Bath was a property entrepreneur’s dream – buildings were put up with an eye on a quick sale – everything was designed for show. So if you walk from the Circus towards The Royal Crescent you’ll notice that whilst the front of the buildings were made out of the best stone and festooned with beautiful carvings, the rear of the houses are made out of any old stone – everything was for show – your friends only looked at the front of the house
You are standing outside No 1 the Crescent- one of the most luxurious houses designed to meet the needs of the Georgian aristocrats who came to “take “the waters”. It is now a museum – so you can see how your ancestors lived in luxury (or, in our case, how our ancestors they served their employers!!)
If you want to get the fullest view of The Royal Crescent, retrace your steps and take a path to your right and walk down until you reach the road that cuts across Victoria Park.
“Vicky Park” was once the pastoral garden for The Royal Crescent – it is now a public open space. Walk until you can see the full panorama – just taking it all in will take some time.
Many of the houses in The Crescent have been turned into flats – but what flats, with such a fantastic view!! You can even stay in The Crescent as The Royal Crescent Hotel can be found at No 16 – prices range from £250 (Classic) to £850 (Master Suite) per night.
Finally – walk towards The Crescent and you will come to a dip in the lawn facing a wall. This is a “haha” – a simple device to keep animals off the well-kept grass in front of The Royal Crescent (this is still private property) – yet, if you looked out from The Crescent you would just see a pastoral scene.
Bath has so much to offer – and the surrounding area is full of “delights” - the countryside, the buildings – and the people!!
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Scenes from Bath