In search of Bath chairs.

In search of Bath chairs.

The return – after conservation work –  of at least one of the original sedan chairs to its usual resting place in Bath’s Assembly Rooms has prompted some of you to set me looking for others in the city.

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The newly conserved sedan chair is positioned just outside the ballroom.

Sally Helvey tells me she remembers seeing one at the Royal Crescent Hotel – which l did manage to find tucked under a staircase – and was kindly allowed to photograph. No one seems to know much about its history.

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The sedan chair at the Royal Crescent Hotel.

The hotel has changed hands several times and this now rather faded example of Bath’s Georgian glory – sort of came with the furniture. It would be nice if it could be restored.

Bath’s much-loved Mineral Water Hospital – now better known at the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases – has its own example – according to Bath Newseum follower Elizabeth Davies.

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The sedan chair at the Mineral Water Hospital

It’s a surviving example of the hospital sedan chairs designed and built in the early 1700’s to ferry patients to and from the bath sites.

As if these were not enough, the relatively new Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel has a beauty of it’s own.

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The Turin-made sedan chair on display at the Gainsborough Bath Spa Hotel.

It’s a Turin Portantina and one of around 50 known to exist of this shape – the fourth most common style surviving in Europe. The chair – made in Turin around 1745 – has a low pole height to help increase  ground clearance to help negotiate flights of steps and hills or mountains.

This chair is on permanent loan from Mr Stephen Loft-Simpson who is a sedan chair specialist based in Bristol. Check out his website on www.sedanchair.co.uk

Please let Bath Newseum know if you spot another sedan chair somewhere else!

 

Welcome home number 68!

Welcome home number 68!

Good to see that at least one of the two genuine sedan chairs – that were on display at Bath’s historic Assembly Rooms – has returned to the building after a long absence.

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Bath’s Assembly Rooms.

This late 18th century Bath ‘taxi’ is one of many licensed by the Corporation and bears the registration number 68.

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Sedan chair – number 68 – returns!

As the notice alongside it declares, ‘chairs such as these would have brought people to the doors of the Assembly Rooms for concerts and assemblies’.

This new form of transport – introduced from the Continent in the 16th century – was well suited to Bath’s narrow and crowded streets.

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The newly conserved sedan chair is positioned just outside the ballroom.

They were used to take people to the thermal baths for treatment and also to transport them to public entertainments like concerts and balls.

By the 1850’s most sedan chairs had been replaced by wheeled bath chairs for short trips in the city and fly carriages to take people to the suburbs.

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When will this one be coming back too?

The chair – now back on display – is one of two that stood in the Concert Room. Last l heard that had been sent away for detailed conservation work.

Stephen Clews – the Manager of the Pump Rooms and Roman Baths – tells me:

‘We are holding back on putting the second sedan chair back on show as a precaution. The reason they were both removed in the first place is that they were infested by a bug.

Obviously anything less than putting them in a glass case (which we would rather avoid!) means there must be some risk of them re-infestation.

So we have simply put one back to begin with and will see how it gets on, so if there is a recurrence only one will be affected.

We have put bug traps next to it so should be able to discover any re-infestation at an early stage.’

Wedding car with a difference.

Wedding car with a difference.

Former Bath Mayor Bryan Chalker’s venerable East German Trabant car saw 

 service on 14 May as a wedding limousine, transporting Katrin Hudewenz 

 and her father (both from East Germany) from Maybrick Road, Oldfield 

 Park, to the Assembly Rooms for the ceremony, which took place at 

 6.30pm.TRABANT WEDDING-16

It was probably the first time ever that a Trabant has been 

 used as an official wedding car in Britain and it created a huge amount 

 of interest from wedding guests (many of them from Germany) and 

 tourists, particularly as the Trabi retains its original 1973 featured, 

 including the iconic DDR plate denoting East Germany.TRABANT WEDDING-21

 The car had been seen in Bath on several occasions by Katrin, who 

 expressed the desire to have a Trabant as her wedding vehicle. 

 Husband-to-be Sam George traced Bryan via the Museum of Bath At Work and 

 arrangements were made for ‘Hermann’ to fulfill the role of ‘limousine’, 

 with the former Mayor acting as chauffeur!TRABANT WEDDING-26

 

 Bryan’s car is an acknowledged ‘Classic’ and has been in his ownership 

 for the past ten years. ‘Hermann’ was recovered from a Southstoke barn, 

 where it had reposed for 16 years, and Bryan purchased it for the 

 princely sum of £1.50p. The little car underwent a mechanical 

 restoration at Larkhall Garage.

Go Georgian for World Heritage Day

Go Georgian for World Heritage Day

Visit Bath’s Assembly Rooms today and you might just bump into Captain Wade – the ‘Master of Ceremonies’ who organised events at this historic centre of entertainment. IMG_7574

There’s an opportunity to have a go at Georgian dancing, listen to 18th century music and join your kids in craft activities or dressing up.

It’s all part of the way in which the Rooms will be helping to celebrate World Heritage Day and Bath’s World Heritage status.IMG_7577

Every year the city celebrates World Heritage Day with an event themed around the ‘Outstanding Universal Vale’ for which Bath was inscribed back in 1987.IMG_7576

This year’s theme is the Georgian social legacy. English society changed radically in the 18th century and Bath was at the forefront of shaping the change.

The Cleveland Pools Trust  – working hard to bring about the restoration of Britain’s last remaining Georgian-built open air lido – will be amongst those exhibiting in the Great Octagon Room. Pretty easy to spot too as two of them are dressing up in Victorian bathing costumes!

Log onto www.bathworldheritage.org.uk/events for more information on what’s happening and when. There is also information on other events coming up later in the year.

Fashion’s top 100 in Bath

Fashion’s top 100 in Bath

Considering it is owned and run by the local authority – which isn’t exactly flush for extra cash at present – Bath’s Fashion Museum has just carried out an impressive  refurbishment and re-modelling of what is one of the world’s great museum collections of historic and contemporary dress.

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New lighting, colour scheme and display cases are now helping to promote a headline exhibition which opens on Saturday, March 19th.

It’s called A History of Fashion in 100 Objects – and they are all star exhibits chosen from a collection of almost 100,000 objects in total.

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Leading the team charged with selecting the items – many of them never on public display before – is Manager Rosemary Harden – herself celebrating 25 years at the Fashion Museum this year.

In case you haven’t already visited – you’ll find Bath’s Fashion Museum in the basement at The Assembly Rooms – near The Circus and Royal Crescent. It’s where it has been housed since 1963.

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It was founded by Doris Langley Moore, a designer, collector, writer and scholar, who gave her famous private collection of costume to the city of Bath.

The Fashion Museum is owned by Bath and North East Somerset Council and is managed by the Heritage Services section.

 

A little light cleaning

A little light cleaning

It’s cleaning time in the ballroom at Bath’s Assembly Rooms. These are some of the most important chandeliers to have survived from the 18th century.

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Cleaning the chandeliers in the ballroom of Bath’s Assembly Rooms.

Mounted on pulleys they are lowered twice a year for cleaning. The three in the tea room and the five here in the ballroom are by William Parker of Fleet Street.

An earlier set in the ballroom – made by Jonathan Collett – were dismantled just one month after the Rooms opened in 1771.

Seems part of one of them collapsed arm and fell to the floor – narrowly missing painter Thomas Gainsborough as he danced beneath.

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Chandeliers ‘hover’ just above the ballroom floor.

They were taken down and the best bits put together to form a singular large chandelier for the Octagon. This is where fortunes were made or lost at the card tables.

Looking into Bath’s heritage future.

Looking into Bath’s heritage future.

Everything from traffic and bad architecture to waterways and pollution were under discussion today during a ‘workshop’ held at Bath Assembly Rooms to help B&NES formulate a World Heritage Management Plan for the next six years.

Some of the local business and heritage organisations gathered at the Assembly Rooms.

Some of the local business and heritage organisations gathered at the Assembly Rooms.

Around eighty people from local businesses and city organisations – including the heritage sector – were invited to take part in a ‘coach-led’ three-hour session to look at the issues affecting Bath – which has been a World Heritage site since 1987.

The Chairman of B&NES Cllr Martin Veal addressing delegates.

The Chairman of B&NES Cllr Martin Veal addressing delegates.Click on images to enlarge.

Bath shares with Venice the accolade of being one of only two European cities in which most of the urban space has heritage status.

The city attracts four and a half million visitors each year which helps keep threats down for its 85,000 head of population.

The award was granted by UNESCO  – which is the cultural arm of the United Nations – and acknowledges Bath’s Roman archaeology, Georgian architecture, its setting and social history.

After an introduction by Bath’s World Heritage Manager, Tony Crouch, and a welcome from the Chairman of B&NES Cllr Martin Veal those invited got down to discussing the issues surrounding Bath’s World Heritage status and how best to manage it for the future.

Coach, John Myers explain the course of action!

Coach, John Myers explains the course of action!

It was a high-powered and intense session led by coach John Myers from Optimy.

Issues and ideas will be collected and studied before management proposals are put out to public consultation before being considered by the Council and passed to UNESCO.

Be interesting to hear what other Bathonias think about the city’s role as a heritage centre and working city.