How Bath lost its tallest landmark

Fascinating to compare two aerial views of the Royal Crescent which illustrate the terrible marks that war leaves on the landscape and how narrowly one of Bath’s most iconic architectural features escaped more serious damage!

They have been forwarded to the Virtual Museum by Mr Carey Gilliland who is a partner at Madison Oakley – independent estate agents and surveyors in Bath.

A pre-Second World War aerial view of the Royal Crescent with St Andrew's Church behind.
A pre-Second World War aerial view of the Royal Crescent with St Andrew’s Church behind.

The first view shows the Crescent with the original church of St Andrews behind and to the right of that iconic Georgian urban landmark.

The church was by George Gilbert Scott who was also busy in Bath Abbey installing internal fan vaulting over the nave. St Andrews was pure Gothic Revival 1869-73 and had a spire of 1878 at 220 feet (67 metres) which was once the tallest landmark in Bath.

I don’t think everyone appreciated the view of the Royal Crescent – looking up from the front lawns – with the spire punctuating the pure curve of that John Wood the Younger sky-line.

The church was bombed during the Bath Blitz of April, 1942 and finally demolished in 1960.

A 1950's aerial view of the Royal Crescent showing the ruins of St Andrew's Church behind.
A 1950’s aerial view of the Royal Crescent showing the ruins of St Andrew’s Church behind.

Carey’s second illustration is from the 1950’s and shows the remains of St Andrews plus the outlines of the ‘Dig For Victory’ allotments which had been set up during the war years.

St Andrews was replaced with a new simple and dignified structure in 1961-4. It’s by Hugh D Roberts and has a square side tower open at the top. The chancel has abstract stained-glass panels. The exterior reuses rubble from the old St Andrews which once occupied the now rather forlorn adjacent green triangular space. It’s said the footprint of its foundations is visible in the grass during a hot summer.

Entrance to St Margaret's Chapel in Brock Street.
Entrance to St Margaret’s Chapel in Brock Street.

Lots more aerials on where Dan Brown asks me to remind people of  another feature in that area lost to enemy action.

This time it’s the entrance to St Margaret’s Chapel in Brock Street which was designed by John Wood the Younger around 1773 and based on Hadrian’s Arch in Athens.

The entrance way led to the chapel which was hidden behind the houses and designed in the Gothick style. It too was destroyed during the Bath Blitz.

1 Comment

  1. Pevsner described it as ‘happily bombed’: perhaps not the most fortunate turn of phrase from a German immigrant but I know what he meant. And its layout can definitely be seen in a hot summer. I noticed what appeared to be it, one year and was prowling round trying to see if it made sense. Some workmen on a nearby roof saw what I was up to and called out that it was amazing to see the complete layout of the church.

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