City of Bath World Heritage Site Management Plan
APPENDIX 3 - INVENTORY OF SELECTED KEY ELEMENTS OF THE WORLD HERITAGE SITE
1. Roman Baths and Pump Room
1.1 This is a fascinating site with a history that
began over 7000 years ago in the Mesolithic period. It includes
the Roman temple and bath complex and museum, the Pump Room and
the Concert Hall.
1.2 Before any baths were built, a temple was erected
by the King's Spring dedicated to Sulis Minerva, a combination
of Roman and British goddesses. This was constructed in 65-75 AD
and the spring was contained in a lead-lined reservoir, probably
built out of Bath Stone. This reservoir was used for worship,
much as the Springs had been used for several thousands of
years, with offerings being thrown in to the Gods. The temple
was a classical buildings and stood in a large precinct with
other monumental buildings. In the middle of this precinct was a
sacrificial altar. Many remains have been found of this precinct
including the pediment and steps of the temple and the altar,
found in situ.
1.3 Gradually the complex grew and baths were added
onto the religious site. At their height the baths included: the
central swimming pool, the Great Bath; two suites of rooms (East
and West Baths) with plunge and immersion baths; cold, warm and
hot rooms; and a smaller warm pool. Curative rooms were a part
of the complex, indicating the early understanding of the
potential of the waters for improving health.
1.4 The baths have been modified on several occasions,
including the 12th century when John of Tours built a curative
bath over the King's Spring reservoir and the 16th century when
the city corporation built a new bath (Queen's Bath) to the
south of the Spring. The Great Bath was not known of at this
time, as the Roman buildings covering it had long collapsed in
and been buried. Discoveries were made throughout the 18th
century, beginning with the highly important find in 1727 of the
head of Sulis Minerva herself, near to where the Pump Room now
stands. Further discoveries were made during the building of the
Pump Room in the 1790s and in the 19th century the major
discoveries of the Great Bath, Roman reservoir and West Baths
brought about a new dimension to the city: museum of antiquity.
The 1897 extension to the Pump Rooms, the Concert Hall (now the
main visitor entrance) and Terrace displayed the discoveries to
the public, and they now represent a chapter of history
themselves as the Victorian interpretation of Bath's Roman past.
1.5 The Pump Room is a very special building, both
architecturally and conceptually. It remains the only place in
Britain where it is possible to drink hot spring waters and from
the time of its construction to the present day it has been used
for its intended purpose of social interaction and entertainment
and the drinking of the spa waters.
1.6 The first Pump Room, built in 1706, was a much
simpler single storey stone building. There was the pump,
supplying the spa waters, and provision for musical
entertainment. In 1751 the building was extended to cater for
the crowds who came to drink the waters and socialise, and in
1784 Thomas Baldwin added the north colonnade. The New Baths
were built in 1788-89 (Queen's Baths) mirroring the north
colonnade in its façade, also designed by Baldwin. The original
impact of this southern colonnade is now slightly lost with the
alterations to the Baths behind it.
1.7 The main block was started in 1789 by Baldwin, but
it was John Palmer who finished the scheme (1799). The interior,
attributed to Palmer, is not considered to be as rich as either
Wood's Assembly Rooms or Baldwin's Guildhall Banqueting Hall but
is nevertheless appreciated by the thousands of visitors who
come each year to eat in the restaurant and drink the spa
waters. The building, with its two colonnades, dominates the
approach to the Abbey Church Yard and creates an atmospheric
link between the Abbey Church and Bath Street area.
1.8 The Pump Room is one of the main expressions of
Georgian social ambitions and stands as a reflection of the
physical and social improvements taking place throughout the
city. Socially, it stands at the centre of all that Georgian
Bath was about.
1.9 The Roman remains are considered along with
Hadrian's Wall to be the finest architectural Roman remains in
Britain, and some of the best Spa remains north of the Alps.
They have huge potential for education and research as well as
being a popular amenity for locals and visitors. The Pump Room
has both architectural and historical importance. It has been at
the centre of Bath social activity for nearly three hundred
years and is still used for its original functions.
1.10 The Pump Room (without the Concert Hall
extension) is Grade I listed, and forms a group with nos 6 to 14
(consecutive) Abbey Church Yard, nos 13 & 14 Cheap Street,
no 3 Stall Street, and the Abbey Church. The Roman Baths are a
Scheduled Ancient Monument. They are owned by Bath & North
East Somerset Council and are operated by the Council's Heritage
Top of Page
2. Abbey Church
2.1 The church occupies a key site adjacent to the
Baths complex and Pump Room. Externally its appearance owes a
great deal to 19th century restoration, including the polygonal
turrets of the tower, the pinnacles added to the turrets and the
hollow flying buttresses erected on both sides of the nave.
Nonetheless, it remains remarkably true to its Perpendicular
style both within and without.
2.2 The church, begun in 1499, is cruciform in plan
and occupies no more than the nave area of the Norman church
which preceded it, the east end corresponding to the west arch
that supported the Norman tower at the crossing. Little of the
earlier church survives, but there are mutilated remains and a
Norman arch high up on what is now the east wall of the south
aisle choir. One of the most notable architectural features, the
stone vaulted nave, was constructed in 1869. Before this, the
nave was roofed in timber. The church was damaged in the air
raids of 1942 and all the 17th century heraldic glass that
survives is now displayed in two windows in the north aisle.
2.3 The Abbey Church was built to replace the great
Norman cathedral which fell into disrepair. The building
survived the Reformation, though in an unfinished condition, and
is now possibly one of the grandest parish churches in the
country. Finally finished in the 19th century the church is one
of the most famous images of Bath and is a focal point for both
local worship and tourist visits. Its vaults are run jointly
with the Local Authority as a museum and the Abbey is a popular
place to go for quiet reflection.
2.4 The Abbey Church is a Grade I listed building and
forms a group with nos 6 to 14 (consecutive) Abbey Church Yard,
nos 13 & 14 Cheap Street, no 3 Stall Street and the Pump
Room. It is owned by the Parochial Church Council of St Peter
and St Paul.
Top of Page
3. Chapel Court
3.1 St John's Hospital is an ancient foundation and
its site has evolved over many centuries. Much of what is now
visible dates from the early 18th century, when the Duke of
Chandos engaged John Wood to redevelop the site. Chandos had
stayed near St John's when he visited Bath in 1726 and had not
found the lodgings to his liking. Seeing an opportunity to make
some money he acquired several of the leases around and in the
hospital and John Wood the Elder set to work.
3.2 The main hospital range had almshouses below and
private lodgings above. Wood was asked to redevelop the upper
storey without demolishing the lower floor, an arrangement that
did not suit his taste for large scale developments with wide
open spaces. John Wood House was the result, with its rubble
stone rear elevation facing Bath Street which previously would
have been rendered, and ashlar classical front overlooking the
courtyard of the hospital. Wood was also commissioned to build
several lodging houses for the Duke, including Chandos House and
Chandos Buildings (now demolished). Chapel Court House was
another reworking of a medieval building and again, not to
3.3 The complex of Chapel Court is an important one,
containing some of the first examples of John Wood's use of
classicism in the city and an important element of Bath's
history, the medieval hospital.
3.4 The buildings that make up Chapel Court are a mix
of Grade I and Grade II. They are owned by St. John's Hospital.
Top of Page
4. Queen Square
4.1 Queen Square is a prime example of John Wood the
Elder's high ambitions for remodelling Bath, revealing his
architectural talents and innovative town planning.
4.2 The land was leased to Wood by Robert Gay, with
each plot in turn sub-let by Wood to local builders, working to
his designs. The scheme for Queen Square was grand: three sides
of the square were to be built giving the impression of a palace
forecourt, with the main façade on the north, and a formal
garden between. The south side was to be a separate building,
from which to view the palace arrangement, with a broad
promenade fronting it. Building started in 1728 on the east side
and took seven years to complete.
4.3 During the course of building, the plans were
altered and while the east and north sides were built to Wood's
original palace forecourt plan, the west was not. The north side
was the first successful use in Britain of a single monumental
façade on a row of individual domestic houses and is impressive
in its execution. The east side was intended as a complementary
wing is therefore somewhat simpler. The west side was built
further back from the square, with a mansion façade and
enclosed forecourt, and was flanked by two buildings of two
houses each. The south side was built much as Wood intended,
though without the formal promenade. The central area was
enclosed by a low balustrade (now railings) and laid out as a
formal garden. An obelisk was erected in the centre on the
occasion of the visit of the Prince of Wales.
4.4 The main north façade is largely untouched,
though some window proportions have been altered. The west side
was altered by John Pinch (younger) in 1830 when he infilled the
two flanking buildings to create one long façade, in a
different style. The south side was heavily damaged in the
bombing raids of 1942, half of it completely destroyed, and has
since been rebuilt.
4.5 Queen Square is a highly important development. It
is considered to be the most successful early application of a
single monumental façade to a group of individual houses and
created an urban space that directly related to the domestic
buildings around it. The impact of Queen Square was heightened
by its early construction, at a time when there were few
Georgian buildings in Bath, on previously undeveloped land
outside the city walls.
4.6 The buildings of Queen Square are Grade I listed.
They are individually owned and are mostly used as business
Top of Page
5. Prior Park
5.1 The mansion of Prior Park was designed by John
Wood the Elder for Ralph Allen in 1735-43, famously as an
advertisement for the local Bath stone. The design was grand and
extensive, but described by Wood as simple classicism. Wood had
built the west wing, pavilion and mansion house before he argued
with Allen in 1748 and was removed from the project. Allen's
clerk of works, Richard Jones, took over and is said to have
ruined Wood's classical symmetry by altering the east wing.
5.2 The situation of the mansion house, close to
Allen's stone mines, at the head of a comb overlooking the city
gave the building the advantage of a tremendous view, with
natural terraces sloping gently away. The building and park is a
prominent feature of the Bath skyline. The grounds were
landscaped by Allen, with advice first from Pope and later
Capability Brown, and they take advantage of the natural
topography. The Palladian Bridge, a copy of the one at Wilton,
was built in 1756 as a dam for the two lakes.
5.3 Prior Park is both a lesson in architecture and
history. It is one of John Wood's earliest works and is
demonstrative of the application of Palladianism to the scale
and topography of Bath. The mansion is also a principal element
of the story of Ralph Allen and Bath stone.
5.4 Prior Park is a Grade I listed building, as is the
Palladian Bridge, and the gardens are registered Grade I on the
English Heritage Register of Historic Parks & Gardens. The
mansion is owned by Prior Park College and the Prior Park
Landscape Gardens (including Palladian Bridge) are owned and
being restored by the National Trust.
Top of Page
6. North and South Parade
6.1 Part of John Wood the Elder's overall scheme for
Bath was a Royal Forum, to provide a new social focus for the
city. The open area would be lined by parades of buildings, each
with large terraces overlooking the Forum and built in a grand
style similar to the palace façade of Queen Square. The area
chosen, Abbey Orchard, was naturally very boggy and a large
drainage system had to be in place before building could begin
in 1740. Though the site is bordered on the east side by the
River Avon, it never seems to have been intended as a visual
element of the site.
6.2 The Grand, or North Parade was the first to be
constructed with South Parade, overlooking the Forum, started in
1743. As usual, Wood designed the facades and each individual
builder undertook to comply with those designs whilst given
freehand with the internal layout and rear elevations. To the
north of this quadrangle of buildings, was the Grand Parade for
promenading. East and west were Pierrepont and Duke Streets,
with facing blocks of houses. St James' Portico, on the west
side of Pierrepont Street was constructed to give access to
Orchard Street without breaking the uniformity of the street
6.3 The scheme for the Royal Forum was abandoned and
so the buildings on the eastern side were never constructed.
Alterations to the Parades began even in construction when some
tenants began to change proportions, particularly to the raised
terraces, and this has continued into the 19th and 20th century
with alterations to windows and insertion of shopfronts. The
grandiose scheme was never completed, but serves to illustrate
again the ambition of Wood's town planning.
6.4 As physical manifestations of John Wood's huge
architectural ambitions for Bath, the Parades are very special
and unusual buildings despite the fabric alterations that have
taken place since their construction.
6.5 The buildings of North and South Parade, with Duke
Street and Pierrepont Street, North Parade Bridge and North
Parade wall and balustrade are a mix of Grade I, II* and II. The
buildings are in mixed ownership and are used as homes, hotels
and business premises.
Top of Page
7.1 Many believe that the Circus is the pinnacle of
Wood the Elder's work, combining his talent for town planning,
understanding of classical architecture and the drama of facades
with his interests in Roman and native British architecture and
beliefs. There appears to be much symbolism in the details of
the Circus, which have been the focus for discussion for many
years. Wood may have been directly influenced by the form of
Stonehenge, as there are similarities in dimensions. Wood died
soon after the first stone was laid in 1754, and the Circus was
completed by his son, also named John Wood.
7.2 The Circus consists of three equal segments of
buildings around an open area. There are three entrance roads,
none of which give vistas of anything other than the buildings
of the Circus, thereby creating an enclosed space that relates
only to the buildings surrounding it. The approach up Gay Street
was designed so that nothing was revealed of the form of the
Circus until arrival at the top of the hill. The segments
contain different numbers of buildings, varying in size, but all
have three principal storeys and a uniform frontage height.
Three different classical orders are used crowned by a parapet
for stone acorns (linking the Circus to the legend of Prince
Bladud discovering the Hot Springs in ancient times). The unity
of the facades is accentuated by the disparity of the rear
elevations where, in the usual practice, each builder was
allowed to cater to their clients personal requirements.
7.3 The central area was originally paved and left
open, intended to contain a statue of King George that was never
erected. Each house was given a walled garden behind, designed
by John Wood the Elder as a part of the overall design. Wood
specified the distance beyond which the rear elevations of the
house were not permitted to stretch, in order to maintain some
harmony of design and the retention of the garden space.
7.4 The Circus holds a unique place in both British
architecture and town planning. It was central to Wood's designs
for Bath and reflects directly his ideas on the relationship
between public and private space and the importance of providing
outdoor social spaces within the city.
7.5 The Circus is Grade I listed and is in mixed
ownership. The buildings are mostly private homes.
Top of Page
8. Royal Crescent
8.1 In the great tradition of his father, John Wood
the Younger contrived one of the most outstanding pieces of
Georgian architecture with his Royal Crescent. The approach
along Brock Street is deliberately subdued architecturally, and
the magnificence of the Crescent is only apparent as the end is
approached. The situation of the Crescent, the formality of the
buildings, the huge front lawn and the views across the city to
the rural hills beyond combine to match any of John Wood the
8.2 In contrast to the Circus, the Crescent is severe
in its restraint relying on scale and proportions for its
elegance. The thirty houses differ in size and plan but form a
uniform façade. The first house, no 1 on the eastern end, was
started in 1767, with the last completed in 1775.
8.3 As with so many of the Georgian buildings, the
sash windows have been altered but other than this, little has
changed. Two of the houses were gutted during the bombing raids
of 1942, nos 2 and 17, but the remaining interiors are largely
original. The retention of green open space in front of the lawn
of the Royal Crescent, now part of Royal Victoria Park, is of
crucial importance for its setting and views.
8.4 There are few other crescents that have had such
impact on architecture or held such an iconic reputation for so
long. The Royal Crescent directly influenced architecture both
in Bath and on a national and international scale. It marks the
introduction in Britain of the Picturesque to urban architecture
and is equal to any composition in Europe.
8.5 The Royal Crescent is Grade I listed. The
buildings are in mixed ownership and are mostly used as private
Top of Page
9. Pulteney Bridge
9.1 Built by Robert Adam in 1769-74 for Sir William
Pulteney to allow development across the river in Bathwick,
Pulteney Bridge is another enduring image of Bath.
9.2 Originally the bridge was part of an extensive
development for the Bathwick estate, but Adam's plans were
rejected and the bridge is the sole survivor of his grand
scheme. The structure of the bridge is very much as built, with
some alterations made in 1804 due to subsidence. The buildings,
however, have been much altered, and on the north side are quite
different to the original plans. The south side, more visually
accessible, has been restored and the overhanging projections
9.3 Architecturally, the bridge is a rare example of
classical Palladianism in this form. Historically, the bridge
represents the grandeur of 18th century Bath society and the
spatial needs of the expanding town, requiring the development
of Bathwick as a residential area.
9.4 Pulteney Bridge is Grade I listed. It is owned by
Bath & North East Somerset and let out on a long-term lease.
The individual units are used for mixed retail.
Top of Page
10. Assembly Rooms
10.1 The first assembly rooms were built in 1708 by
Thomas Harrison, situated on Terrace Walk by Harrison's Walks.
They were extensively remodelled throughout the century but by
the 1760s, with the growth of the upper town as a residential
area, a need grew for additional assembly rooms to serve this
area. Paid for by subscription, designed by John Wood the
Younger, the New or Upper Assembly Rooms opened in 1771 between
Bennet Street and Alfred Street.
10.2 The Rooms originally contained a Ballroom, Card
Room and Tea Room around a central octagonal hall and were
quickly the focus for social life, the magnificence of the
interiors overshadowing every other public building in Bath. An
early alteration was the addition of another card room, a large
rectangular apartment on the east front. The Rooms are still
used today for their original function of public entertainments.
The chandeliers are acknowledged as the finest in-situ 18th
century examples of their kind in the world.
10.3 Tragically, the Assembly Rooms were hit by
incendiary bombs in 1942 and consequently gutted, having just
been refurbished by the National Trust who acquired the
buildings in 1931. Restoration was completed in 1963 and the
building was reopened. The extensive fire damage is still
visible in the colour of the stonework in the Tea Room.
10.4 The Assembly Rooms were central to Georgian
society and are a physical reminder of the growing aspirations
and status of the town throughout the 18th century.
Architecturally, they have one of the finest interiors in the
city, though sadly no longer original.
10.5 The Assembly Rooms are Grade I listed. They are
owned by the National Trust and let on a long-lease to Bath
& North East Somerset Council, who open the Rooms to the
public and operate the Museum of Costume located in the
Top of Page
11. Lansdown Crescent
11.1 This crescent was one of the last to be built
before the financial crash of 1793, and several of the
speculating builders involved with it were ruined that year.
Lansdown was the work of John Palmer for Charles Spackman, a
wealthy property valuer and was built between 1789 and 1793.
11.2 Situated in one of the most striking positions in
the city, the sinuous lines of the buildings following the
slopes of Lansdown sit comfortably in the landscape. Palmer's
designs took the example of Royal Crescent and its landscape
setting to another level. The high setting gives the houses a
panoramic view of the surrounding hills and their immediate
rural context is secured by the rural field sloping down the
hill in front of the Crescent. This rough pasture field is
protected from development, recognised as central to a full
appreciation of this important episode in Bath's architectural
11.3 The classical design skilfully incorporates both
the contours and slopes of the hill, with a concave central
crescent and convex stepped up flanking wings. The ironwork is
particularly fine on these buildings and is original. The
archway between 20 Lansdown Crescent and 1 Lansdown Place West
was built by William Beckford to house his library. The
buildings have suffered little alteration and only some small
damage during the bombing raids.
11.4 This development represents the height of
landscape design and the terrace crescent in British
11.5 Lansdown Crescent is Grade I listed. The
buildings are in mixed ownership and are mostly private homes.
Top of Page
12. Sydney Gardens
12.1 These pleasure grounds were opened in 1795, and
represent a focus for the society of Bath towards the end of its
high popularity. Originally designed in conjunction with the
Tavern (known as Sydney House), as a focal point for Baldwin's
Bathwick estate, Sydney Gardens are now somewhat stranded at the
edge of Georgian Bath. The gardens, opened before the hotel
construction was started, were a profit making enterprise built
to rival the reputation of Vauxhall Gardens in London, then the
height of fashion for adult entertainment venues.
12.2 Laid out with winding paths, pavilions for
private al fresco dining, lawns, groves, and water features, the
gardens were the scene of some of the best social encounters of
the period. The arrival of the Kennet and Avon canal in 1800-1,
cutting the gardens at the east end, did not diminish the
popularity of the gardens but rather enhanced it, with the two
beautiful wrought iron bridges becoming another attraction.
12.3 The railway was another matter. In 1840, the
Great Western Railway cut through the centre of the gardens,
destroying the labyrinth, perimeter walk and isolating a large
section of the northern gardens from their connecting paths. By
this time, Bath society had altered and the popularity of the
gardens was already waning.
12.4 Further encroachments took place for building
purposes and in the 1860s the gardens were laid out with
bandstand, croquet, archery and lawn tennis, reflecting the
changing tastes of the public. The transfer to municipal park
was completed by 1912 when Bath City Council bought the whole
site, selling the Tavern building (used by the Bath Proprietary
College from 1853-1880) and a small area of gardens to the
Trustees of Sir William Hobourne's art collection. The Holbourne
of Menstrie Museum (now the Holbourne Museum of Art), opened in
1916. In 1995 Bath City Council began a restoration programme to
remove some of the modern developments within the park and
restore some of the original layout.
12.5 The historical importance of Sydney Gardens
relates to the development of public entertainments and the
sociability of the Georgians. It is an integral part of the
story of Georgian Bath towards the end of the 18th century.
12.6 Sydney Gardens are registered Grade II on the
English Heritage Register of Historic Parks & Gardens. They
are owned and operated as a public park by Bath & North East
Top of Page
This page is maintained by Abigail Harrap,
Abigail_Harrap@bathnes.gov.uk and 01225 477581