Bed-time in Bath

Bed-time in Bath

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Come see The Herbs!

Bath Parks Department gardeners have been putting the finishing touches to floral displays around the city in time for high summer and – hopefully – high numbers of tourists!

It’s judgement time coming up soon for all those who have entered Bath in Bloom this year and the city itself has a fine record in floral competitions- which you can see recorded on a board at the bottom of the entrance steps into the Parade Gardens – currently full of new flower-filled beds.

 The 'Roll of Honour"

The ‘Roll of Honour”

The main novelty display this year – in this park beside the River Avon – is  the children’s television series The Herbs with Bayleaf the gardener, Parsley the lion and Dill the dog all represented in a riot of colour.

IMG_4097Whether its the work of the Parks Department or a bit of effort put in by individual city businesses, the flowers say welcome to our city in a cheerful and colourful way!

‘Raiding’ the Green Belt.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of ‘The Sack of Bath‘ – a fierce and angry polemic – written by Times journalist Adam Ferguson and following on from an article he had written for the newspaper. It hi-lighted the severe threat, he considered the historic city was then under, from the policies of its council and other developers.

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One of the photographs from ‘The Sack of Bath’ book.

It was a time  – 1973 – when there was talk of constructing a tunnel to take through traffic under the city.While on the surface a  large swathe of small Georgian-built houses was being demolished – all in the name of modernisation and redevelopment.

The book – and Adam Ferguson’s  plea for a change in attitudes – had a profound effect in applying the brakes on such wholesale clearance and the development of a different way of thinking. Conservation and heritage were new and important ‘buzz’ words and the rot was stopped.

The Beaufort Hotel - now better known as The Hilton.

The Beaufort Hotel – now better known as The Hilton.

Though not before ‘brutalist’ buildings like the Hilton Hotel (originally the Beaufort when constructed) had been plonked – like Dr Who’s Tardis – in the middle of a Georgian landscape.

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Museum of Bath at Work

At least buildings like Britain’s only 18th century royal tennis court was saved from redevelopment to become home to the Building of Bath at Work!

The book’s anniversary was mentioned at this week’s annual general meeting of Bath Preservation Trust – very happily celebrating the re-opening of No 1 Royal Crescent after a multi-million pound make-over that has doubled the number of period rooms on display and re-connected the main house with the servant’s wing next door.

No 1 Royal Crescent is on the right of this image.

No 1 Royal Crescent is on the right of this image.

The Trust’s Chief Executive, Caroline Kay said forty years on there was a new danger on Bath’s doorstep. ‘ It’s not urban this time – its green belt. There is a real threat to its landscape setting,’ she warned.

She was talking about what Chairman Edward Bayntun-Coward has already described as Bath’s ‘building boom possibly unprecedented since the 18th century.’ The Council has been told to find room for 7000 new houses as well as redeveloping several city centre and edge-of-centre areas.

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Members at the Trust’s AGM.

Ms Kay – in her Chief Executive’s report – talked about the possibility of ‘extensive raiding of the Green Belt for housing’ and though aware of the Council’s dilemma, considered that national planning policies were not ‘particularly sensitive to the possibility that Bath, as the UK’s only whole city which is a World Heritage site, has a natural environmental capacity, going beyond which will completely alter the qualities of the city which are recognised in that status.’

There was much to be clarified but the Trust was ready to engage in all the debates about how much, how big and what all this new development should look like.

During the time for questions members voiced concerns about the number of city centre properties with empty rooms above commercial premises that could be used for housing.

There was concern also in getting some development movement going on the old and now unused King Edward’s School building in Broad Street – built by Thomas Jelly in 1752 – and now on English Heritage‘s ‘at risk’ list.king edwards school

Another anxiety amongst members was the fate of ‘The Min’ – the Royal Mineral Water Hospital founded as The General Hospital in 1716 ‘for the deserving poor’ and now considered under threat from services being withdrawn from the  city-centre building.

Walk into history

Walk into history

 

A fund-raising walk around the site of one of the hardest fought battles of the English Civil War is planned for Sunday, July 7th. It includes access to areas not normally accessible to the public and goes through some beautiful countryside with spectacular views.

Site of the Battle of Lansdown

Site of the Battle of Lansdown

The battle of  Lansdown Hill near Bath was fought on July 5th 1643 Although the Royalists under Lord Hopton forced the Parliamentarians under Sir William Waller to retreat from their hilltop position, they suffered so many casualties themselves, and were left so disordered and short of ammunition that an injured Hopton was forced to retire.

By this time the Royalists had captured most of the South West of England and were advancing eastwards into Parliamentarian-held territory. Sir William Waller’s army held Bath, to obstruct their further advance.

Battlefield marker

Battlefield marker

Attacking Lansdown Hill and charging up the steep slopes towards the Parliamentarian position on the crest, Hopton’s cavalry suffered badly and many panicked. However, under Sir Bevil Grenville, Hopton’s Cornish pikemen stormed Waller’s hill-top positions, while Royalist musketeers outflanked Waller through the woods on each side of his position. Grenville was mortally wounded in hand-to-hand combat as Parliamentarian horse counter-attacked and were driven off.

Sir Bevil Grenville's Monument at the place where he fell.

Sir Bevil Grenville’s Monument at the place where he fell.

The Parliamentarians withdrew to Bath overnight. While the day after the battle a Royalist ammunition cart exploded and Hopton was injured and temporarily blinded. The loss of the powder and the absence of most of their horse meant the Royalists could not fight another action.

Julian Humphrys  will be leading Sunday’s walk which departs at 2.30pm from Liliput Farm, Lower Hamswell, nr Bath, BA1 9DE. Parking and refreshments available.

Pre-booking  is essential. It will cost £10.00 (£7.50 Trust members). Proceeds will be shared between the Trust and Heropreneurs, a UK charity which helps former members of the armed forces set up in business. Have a look at the web-site

http://www.justgiving.com/lansdown-walk or contact Julian Humphrys at development.officer@battlefieldstrust.com or telephone 07930 432444.

Details about the battle, and illustrations, courtesy of Wikipedia, the free on-line encyclopaedia .

The canal-side pub that vanished.

I often cycle into town along the Kennet and Avon Canal tow-path and out through Sydney Gardens. My way onto the waterway is via Grosvenor Meadows and across the River Avon on a horrible concrete bridge that l knew had at some point replaced a delicate suspension bridge which l have seen in old photographs.

The ugly concrete bridge across the River Avon at Grovesnor

The ugly concrete bridge across the River Avon at Grosvenor.

I had also heard something about a pub being somewhere on my route between the river and the stone strewn pathway that led up the side of the canal. A little way up that incline is a set of brick stairs disappearing into the undergrowth. Part of an anonymous ruin. That was until l opened this month’s copy of the community magazine ‘The Local Look’ that had come through my Larkhall door

There on pages 18 and 19 was the story of The Folly – a pub that vanished – and this an extract from Lost Pubs a book by Kirsten Elliott and published by the Akeman Press www.akemanpress.com

Kirsten said when she and her partner Andrew Swift were researching Bath’s pubs – past and present – they found the Folly very intriguing. The amount of material they discovered was enormous but they could not find a photograph. So far the only known image is a painting by Samuel Poole – done some time before 1930 – which can be seen at the Victoria Art Gallery.

I know Kirsten – and the Virtual Museum – would love to find photographs or personal memories regarding this now vanished public house.

A view down the incline with the remains of the Folly on the right.

A view down the incline with the remains of the Folly on the right.

The Folly – according to Lost Pubs – first appears as an unnamed building on Thorp’s 1742 map of Bath. In 1795, when Harcourt Masters published his map of Bath, it appears, as the Folly, and linked by a free ferry with the new pleasure gardens then being created at Grosvenor.

Is this the reason for its name, she asks? Grosvenor Gardens began to be laid out in 1792 – in imitation of Vauxhall in London. Unfortunately, although they could create wonderful spectacles in the gardens themselves, the view across the river was something of an anti-climax.

Taking an old building and turning it into a folly by the addition of eye-catching features would be an ideal way of transforming a rather uninteresting view into a picturesque landscape. This is, at least, Kirsten’s theory.

The building retained the name after the failure of the Grosvenor Pleasure Gardens prior to 1795 and was leased – as a dairy farm – by William Hulbert. The canal cut across the land at the back of the Folly in 1800 which brought a steady flow of people and boats to this previously remote spot. It’s thought Mr Hulbert may have turned part of his land into a tea garden to make some money from this new passing trade

In 1830 Thomas Shew, who lived at the eastern end of Grosvenor and owned the land at the back, constructed a suspension bridge over the River Avon to create a pleasant walk from Walcot to Bathampton and back along the river and canal. This probably made the path by the Folly busier than ever.

In 1839 Matthew Hulbert, William’s son, entered into an agreement with the Duke of Cumberland, who owned the land on which the Folly stood, to redevelop the building at precisely the time the railway was about to be built alongside it.

He then started to serve teas in the garden during the summer months. It is not known when the Folly became a public house but the first reference to it came in 1847 when a report in the Bath Chronicle of a drowning woman being pulled from the river states that the alarm was raised by ‘the son of Mr Hulbert of the Folly Public House‘ and the victim was taken there to recover.

By 1852 the Watch committee regarded it as a ‘harbour for loose characters.’ Several landlords followed. Then , in 1862, Thomas Osmond from the Theatre Tavern in St John’s Place, took it over and attempted to give the Folly a new image by renaming it the Cremorne Pleasure Gardens.

There wad a fountain in the grounds, dancing, brewing from the Hampton Springs and the longest, most comfortable bowling alley in Bath as well as gala nights lit by Vauxhall lamps.

In 1887, the Great Western Railway bought the land – it is still owned by Network Rail. It was home to the Grosvenor Brewery – by then the pub’s official name. Over the years, licensees came and went and the pub deteriorated. Yet it remained a popular place for family outings, with swings and other games for children. Many locals remembered being taken there by their parents.

The steps between pub and brewery

The steps between pub and brewery

At last, one fateful night in 1942, a stray German bomber brought an abrupt end to the Folly’s long if chequered history. The report of the condition of the building stated that, although the damage was considerable, the building was still usable.

But given the Folly’s less than salubrious reputation and dilapidated state, it was decided it should be allowed to slip gracefully into oblivion.

In 1958 the licence of the Folly was transferred to the Richmond Arms in Richmond Place, which until then had only had a beer licence.

Today all that remains of the Folly are a few shattered stones, a short flight of steps that once led from the bar to the brewery, and a thick tangle of undergrowth.

Royal Crescent stars in tv drama

Royal Crescent stars in tv drama

The Royal Crescent took centre stage today

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The crew at The Royal Crescent filming Carolina Vera, who plays the part of Elizabeth Lancaster in Unknown Heart.

when the famous landmark was filmed for a new romantic TV drama, Unknown Heart, with the help of Bath & North East Somerset Council

Unknown Heart has been shooting in and around Bath in recent weeks.  The Council’s Film Office has provided advice and liaison support on many of the locations used.

Councillor Ben Stevens (Lib-Dem Widcombe),  Cabinet Member for Sustainable Development, said “The filming of TV dramas contributes considerable investment into the local economy so we are very happy to welcome the production company, Gate TV, back to Bath for a third time. Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Film Office works closely with production companies to source filming locations in the area and assist with the smooth running of shoots for the benefit of crews, residents and visitors.”

The London and Munich based production company specialises in making dramas for German and English audiences, with previous productions including The Four Seasons and The Other Wife.

Their latest drama, Unknown Heart, features the actors Jane Seymour (Dr Quinn, Medicine Woman) and Greg Wise (Sense and Sensibility) in leading roles. All three dramas are based on stories by the bestselling novelist, Rosamunde Pilcher.

Unknown Heart tells the fictional story of Elizabeth Lancaster who struggles with the psychological after-effects of a near-death experience following a successful heart transplant. She then falls in love with the widower of the woman who donated the heart – which leads to her having to make one of the most important decisions of her life.

Director Giles Foster who went to Monkton Combe School is a keen champion for filming in Bath, having filmed Northanger Abbey and Bertie and Elizabeth here as well as the previous Gate TV dramas. He said: “It’s great to be back again, filming in this wonderful city.  Viewers will see Bath at its most gorgeous and they will want to visit it themselves. We’ve also had our production offices based in beautiful rural North East Somerset during the run up to filming, so we’ve really enjoyed the best of what the area has to offer whilst filming Unknown Heart.”

Wellow artist scores double honours!

 

Catherine Beale who lives in Wellow and has recently opened her own gallery in Widcombe Parade has been doubly honoured by The Society of Woman Artists which has accepted two of Catherine’s portraits for their forthcoming annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries, Admiralty Arch, London.

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PHOTO shows the portrait Catherine painted in oil on canvas of Sarah Bevan during her year as Madam Chairman, Bath and North East Somerset Council 2010-2011 (note the fly on the shelf’s legs in swastika form)

The two portraits feature local women Georgia Cox, a fellow artist, and Cllr Sarah Bevan, a local councillor and life model.

Catherine said:

‘This is my first submission to the Society of Women Artists exhibition and I am delighted to have had both my paintings accepted for hanging at The Mall’.

The Society’s 152nd annual exhibition previews on Wednesday June 26th with the official opening and awards presentation by the Society’s patron HRH Princess Michael of Kent.

The exhibition is open to the public from Thursday June 27th – Saturday 6th July.

Cllr Bevan added:

‘This is very exciting for Catherine and for Georgia and me. I have very vivid memories of the sittings two years ago, and particularly the way Catherine dug into my family history – hence the dead fly with the swastika legs which symbolising the end of the Holocaust my mother was caught up in as a child.’

The Society has chosen The Breakthrough Breast Cancer charity as its 2013 charitable cause.

Special free guided walks around Bath!

Special free guided walks around Bath!

IMG_3415Members of the Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides have arranged some ‘special’ summer walks around our World Heritage City between July 22nd and Agust 2nd. 

There will be 10 routes with a mix of old and new topics to please all tastes.

Walcot and the Paragon

A walk around the Artisan Quarter of Bath looking for evidence of occupation from Romans to present day

Statues, Friezes and Faces of Bath – with some Relief(s)

Daylight Robbery

Art nouveau, bow, blocked-up, false, fanlight, sash, stained glass and trompe l’oeil….windows – Bath has them all!

Nelson’s Blood

A walk in the footsteps of Nelson, his family and naval companions

Inventors, Scientists and Explorers

Celebrating Bath men and women who contributed much in the field of discovery and invention

Jane Austen in Bath

The Map’s Right – Only the Buildings Have Changed

Explore Bath using a mid-18th Century map as our guide

Charming Crescents, Pleasing Places

Exploring the slopes of Lansdown

Scandals and Gossip

“Always the very life blood of Bath conversation…..”

MAYOR OF BATH’S CORPS OF HONORARY GUIDES

Free Special Walks There are ten topics each of which will be covered twice, once at 10.00am and once at 7.00pm.

Date

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Morning 10.00am

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Evening 7.00pm

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Mon 22 Jul

Walcot and the Paragon

A walk around the Artisan Quarter of Bath looking for evidence of occupation from Romans to present day

Start and Finish: By entrance to Podium, Northgate Street

Statues, Friezes and Faces of Bath – with some Relief(s)

Start and Finish: Abbey Great West Doors.

Tue 23 Jul

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Daylight Robbery

Art nouveau, bow, blocked-up, false, fanlight, sash, stained glass ,trompe l’oeil,…windows – Bath has them all!

Start and Finish: Abbey Great West Doors

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Feisty Females

Start: Laura Place Finish: South Parade

Wed 24 Jul

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Nelson’s Blood

A walk in the footsteps of Nelson, his family and naval companions

Start and Finish: Empire Hotel, Orange Grove

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Inventors, Scientists and Explorers Celebrating Bath men and women who contributed much in the field of discovery and invention

Start: Abbey Great West Doors Finish: Outside the Guildhall

Thu 25 Jul

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Jane Austen in Bath

Start: 4 Sydney Place, Bath Finish: Abbey Churchyard

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The Map’s Right – Only the Buildings Have Changed

Explore Bath using a mid-18th Century map as our guide

Start: Under East End Window of Bath Abbey in Orange Grove Finish: Abbey Great West Doors

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Fri 26 Jul

Charming Crescents, Pleasing Places

Exploring the slopes of Lansdown

Start and Finish: No 1 Royal Crescent

(Some steep gradients/steps)

Scandals and Gossip

“Always the very life blood of Bath conversation…..”

Start and Finish: At the side of the Guildhall in Orange Grove

Mon 29 Jul

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Statues, Friezes and Faces of Bath – with some Relief(s)

Start and Finish: Abbey Great West Doors.

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Daylight Robbery

Art nouveau, bow, blocked-up, false, fanlight, sash, stained glass and trompe l’oeil windows – Bath has them all!

Start and Finish: Abbey Great West Doors

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Tue 30 Jul

The Map’s Right – Only the Buildings Have Changed

Explore Bath using a mid-18th Century map as our guide

Start: Under East End Window of Bath Abbey in Orange Grove. Finish: Abbey Great West Doors

Jane Austen in Bath

Start: 4 Sydney Place, Bath Finish: Abbey Churchyard

Wed 31 Jul

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Scandals and Gossip

“Always the very life blood of Bath conversation…..”

Start and Finish: At the side of the Guildhall in Orange Grove

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Nelson’s Blood

A walk in the footsteps of Nelson, his family and naval companions

Start and Finish: Empire Hotel, Orange Grove

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Thu 1 Aug

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Inventors, Scientists and Explorers Celebrating Bath men and women who contributed much in the field of discovery and invention

Start: Abbey Great West Doors. Finish: Outside the Guildhall

Walcot and the Paragon

A walk around the Artisan Quarter of Bath looking for evidence of occupation from Romans to present day

Start and Finish: By entrance to Podium, Northgate Street

Fri 2 Aug

Feisty Females

Start: Laura Place Finish: South Parade

Charming Crescents, Pleasing Places

Exploring the slopes of Lansdown

Start and Finish: No 1 Royal Crescent. (Some steep gradients/steps)

More information on www.bathguides.org.uk ALL walks are free of charge!