‘Prior’ engagement for John Wood

Two of Bath’s most illustrious characters from its Georgian past were brought to life last week-end ( Saturday,July 5th) to help

L to 2 Ralph Allen (Pavel Douglas) Georgian Lady (Sara Bird) and John Wood (Ric Jerrom)
L to R Ralph Allen (Ric Jerrom) Georgian Lady (Sara Bird) and John Wood (Pavel Douglas)


celebrate two important events in the city’s history.

History graduate Sara Bird dressed in Georgian attire in order to meet Bath’s famous quarry-owner and socialite Ralph Allen – portrayed by actor Ric Jerrom – and his architect John Wood the Elder – recreated here by actor Pavel Douglas.

Sally Helvey – who sent in this report – tells me they had a lively conversation in which Mr Allen was extolling the virtues of ‘Bath Stone’ – with which Prior Park was built in 1742 as a show-piece – and Miss Bird was quick to give her half-penneth worth!

The event, which was open to the public and held at the National Trust’s Prior Park Landscape Garden, celebrated 250 years since Ralph Allen died, and 300 years since the beginning of the Georgian period.

Sara had a wonder around the grounds with me and we came across an authentic group of estate workers at their trades, including a scyther doing his thing in front of the stunning Palladian-style bridge which span the lakes at the bottom of the park.

Head Gardener Matthew Wood at work with a scythe!
Head Gardener Matthew Ward at work with a scythe!

All the National Trust staff dressed up for this event to look authentic for the occasion, and at one point the scyther Matthew Ward – who is Head Gardener no less – was spotted having to pull his stockings up!

The outfits were supplied by the Bath Theatrical Costume Hire Company.

Our Virtual Museum ‘reporter’ Sally Helvey is also a Trustee of the Cleveland Pools Trust and tells me that actors Ric Jerrom (aka Ralph Allen) and Pavel Douglas (aka John Wood) work for the Natural Theatre Company and the Cleveland Pools Trust will be asking if them if they would impersonate some of this unique venue’s own historical characters from bygone years for its own bicentenary celebrations next year.

The Cleveland Pools is the UK’s only surviving Georgian open-air Lido and it is due to be fully restored within the next 18 months, depending on whether the trustees are successful in acquiring Heritage Lottery Funding this summer. The wait is still on.

For more details, look up: clevelandpools.org.uk