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.


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.


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.

sedan chair

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.


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

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


Three years of medical life left for the Min?

Three years of medical life left for the Min?

B&NES councillors are to be asked  to give their backing to integration plans that will see all facilities at the historic Mineral Water Hospital moved to the Royal United Hospital site over the next three years.

The Mineral Water Hospital

The Mineral Water Hospital

Today’s (July 29th) meeting of the Health and Wellbeing Select Committee will hear that combining services is the most cost and patient effective way of moving forward.

A report on the acquisition of the site – and integration plans – to date states:

‘It is recognised that whilst the RNHRD building is highly regarded by the patients it serves, it is unlikely to be a cost-effective or suitable base for high quality service provision in the longer term.

It is expected that services will continue to be delivered from the existing RNHRD building for up to three years post acquisition. During this time work will be undertaken within the wider estates plans at the RUH to develop purpose designed environments which benefit patient experience and wellbeing whilst supporting improved efficiency and effectiveness of delivery through appropriate scaling, workflow design and co-location with other services.

Opportunities for branding of elements of the new estate will also ensure that the long-term legacy of the RNHRD can be protected.’

The ‘MIn” – as it is affectionately known in Bath – was founded in 1716 as a National Hospital for the ‘deserving poor’ and built in the late 1730’s to a design by John Wood and with money raised by Beau Nash.

A unique document bearing a  list of original trustees - including architect John Wood

A unique document bearing a list of original trustees – including architect John Wood

Thermal waters were pumped up the hill from the hot water springs so that people could benefit from them in the hospital’s purpose-built hydrotheraphy pool. The tunnel carrying the pipe is still extant.

If and when the hospital site becomes vacant there is a feeling that – although the general public can already enjoy the contemporary surroundings of the new Thermae Baths for pleasure – the Min could become a hydrotherapy treatment centre again – with thermal waters once more pumped up and used – enabling Bath to take back its title as a spa city with medical services.

With an injection of private capital it could be quite a centre and attract customers seeking treatment from around the world.

Or do we just let market forces claim another victim and look forward to its transformation into a boutique hotel, another themed pub or restaurant or even luxury flats!!

The building IS listed so its exterior at least is protected. It also houses a Roman mosaic in the basement and an amazing collection of medical artefacts and historical documents that would surely go into a Museum of Bath – if the city had such a building!!!!