The missing O?

Jon Adams asks if l can solve a mystery for him.

He writes:

“As a kid growing up in Bath I would regularly walk past the Holbourne Museum in Bathwick. Lovely building which was arguably improved with the addition of the glass cube bolted on the back around 10 years ago.

Soon after the museum underwent the transformation, something peculiar happened. They lost their “O”. The Holbourne became the Holburne.

I’ve spent a lot of time wandering around Bathwick, Sydney Gardens and even the nearby K&A canal looking for the “O” but to no avail.

I’m now wondering whether it accidentally got buried in the footings/foundations for the glass extension.

Is this something that you would be interested in investigating? Happy to join you in a dig; can bring a spare shovel!”

He also includes this:

Below: found on internet, old publicity document clearly showing “Holbourne”.

Jon, am l wrong in thinking your tongue might be firmly stuck in your cheek?

The Holburne Museum was originally known as Sydney House and served as the entrance way to the Georgian Pleasure Gardens beyond. It housed everything from a ballroom to a pub – and later became an hotel and, after that, a college.

Trustees of the William Holburne art collection bought it in 1911 and it became a museum. Being named after its benefactor, l am not sure where the idea of that ‘missing o’ came from?

Unless anyone knows differently!


  1. Hi Richard

    I believe the Holburne Museum was formerly known as the Holbourne of Menstrie Museum of Fine Art. I suspect the name change came after the 2010 renovations. Just guessing but as a Bathonian I had always known it from a child as The Holbourne”. I am in my sixties now so the former name has stayed with me all that time.

    Best regards

    Paul Polden


  2. A search for the image reveals the artwork to be a promotional flyer created by Bristol based artist Mark Curry who writes “A musician friend of mine is performing at the Holbourne Museum and as a favour I created a small promo card for him to hand out at the performance. It began with an old image of him and from there I added a digital and deliberately cartoonish beard (as every indie singer seems to have one) layered it with another image of him which had been uniquely cropped and added the writing on top”

Comments are closed.