Royal Crescent is a row of 30 terraced houses laid out in a
sweeping crescent in the city of Bath, England. Designed by the
John Wood, the Younger
John Wood, the Younger and built between 1767 and 1774, it
is among the greatest examples of
Georgian architecture to be found in
the United Kingdom and is a Grade I listed building. Although some
changes have been made to the various interiors over the years, the
Georgian stone façade remains much as it was when it was first built.
The 500-foot-long (150 m) crescent has 114 Ionic columns on the
first floor with an entablature in a Palladian style above. It was the
first crescent of terraced houses to be built and an example of "rus
in urbe" (the country in the city) with its views over the parkland
Many notable people have either lived or stayed in the Royal Crescent
since it was built over 240 years ago, and some are commemorated on
special plaques attached to the relevant buildings. Of the crescent's
30 townhouses, 10 are still full-size townhouses; 18 have been split
into flats of various sizes; one is the
No. 1 Royal Crescent
No. 1 Royal Crescent museum
and the large central house at number 16 is the
Royal Crescent Hotel.
1 Design and construction
3 Notable residents
4 Current use
6 Film and television
7 See also
10 External links
Design and construction
The street that is known today as "The Royal Crescent" was originally
named "The Crescent." It is claimed that the adjective "Royal" was
added at the end of the 18th century after Prince Frederick, Duke of
York and Albany had stayed there. He initially rented number one
and later bought number 16. The
Royal Crescent is close to Victoria
Park and linked via Brock Street to The Circus which had been designed
by John Wood, the Elder.
The land on which the
Royal Crescent stands was bought from Sir Benet
Garrard of the Garrard baronets, who were the landlords, in December
1766. Between 1767 and 1775 John Wood designed the great curved
façade with Ionic columns on a rusticated ground floor. Each
original purchaser bought a length of the façade, and then employed
their own architect to build a house behind the façade to their own
specifications; hence what can appear to be two houses is occasionally
just one. This system of town planning is betrayed at the rear and can
be seen from the road behind the Crescent: while the front is uniform
and symmetrical, the rear is a mixture of differing roof heights,
juxtapositions and fenestration. This architecture, described as
"Queen Anne fronts and Mary-Anne backs", occurs repeatedly in
Bath. It was the first crescent of terraced houses to be built and
an example of "rus in urbe" (the country in the city) with its views
over the parkland opposite.
Ha-ha in front of the Royal Crescent
In front of the
Royal Crescent is a ha-ha, a ditch on which the inner
side is vertical and faced with stone, with the outer face sloped and
turfed, making an effective but invisible partition between the lower
and upper lawns. The ha-ha is designed so as not to interrupt the view
from Royal Victoria Park, and to be invisible until seen from close
by. It is not known whether it was contemporary with the building of
the Royal Crescent, however it is known that when it was first created
it was deeper than it is at present. The railings between the
crescent and the lawn were included in the
Heritage at Risk Register
English Heritage but have been restored and removed from
In 2003, the archaeological television programme
Time Team dug the
Royal Crescent in search of a Roman cemetery and the Fosse Way. The
remains of a Roman wall were found behind the crescent and evidence of
possible Iron and Bronze Age settlement on the lawn in front.
The completion of the building work in 1769.
In the late 19th century five cast iron lamp columns with decorative
scrollwork were added. In 1921, architect
Robert Tor Russell
Robert Tor Russell used
the Crescent as a source of inspiration to design the central business
district of Connaught Place, New Delhi, India.
Bath Blitz of World War II, known as the Baedecker Raids or
Baedeker Blitz, some bomb damage occurred, the most serious being the
gutting of numbers 2 and 17 by incendiaries. After World War II,
during a period of redevelopment which is described as the Sack of
Bath, the City Council considered plans that would have seen the
Crescent transformed into Council offices. These were
During the 20th century many of the houses which had formerly been the
residences of single families with maids or other staff were divided
into flats and offices. However, the tradition of distinguished
gentlefolk retiring to the crescent continued. The whole crescent was
designated as a Grade I listed building in 1950. Number 16 became
a guest house in 1950. In 1971 it was combined with number 15 to
Royal Crescent Hotel occupying the central properties of
the Crescent, which were renovated and additional rooms in pavilions
and coach houses within the gardens included in the
accommodation. It was sold in 1978 to John Tham, the chairman
of the London Sloane Club, and restored. It was later purchased by
Von Essen Hotels, which became insolvent in 2011. In September 2011 it
was expected that London & Regional Properties would purchase the
hotel, but negotiations ended in January 2012 without a deal.
On 2 April 2012, investment company the
Topland Group announced that
it had purchased the
Royal Crescent Hotel.
In the 1970s the resident of No 22, Miss Amabel Wellesley-Colley,
painted her front door yellow instead of the traditional white. Bath
City Council issued a notice insisting it should be repainted. A court
case ensued which resulted in the Secretary of State for the
Environment declaring that the door could remain yellow. Other
proposals for alteration and development including floodlighting and a
swimming pool have been defeated.
Number 11, Royal Crescent, Bath, was the home to the family of Thomas
Linley the elder, a singing-master and conductor of concerts from 1771
His second daughter Elizabeth Ann Linley, a singer in her own right,
eloped with the playwright and poet Richard Brinsley Sheridan
The first resident of Number 1 was Thomas Brock who acted as trustee
for John Wood his son-in-law, although he was rarely lived there
as he was the town clerk of Chester. His tenant was Henry
Sandford, a retired Irish MP who rented the house from 1776 until his
death in Bath in 1796. He was described as a 'gentleman of the most
William Wilberforce stayed at Number 2 in
1798. Christopher Anstey, a well-known writer of the time, was
resident in number 4 from 1770 until 1805, although the plaque to him
is placed on number 5. Jean Baptiste, Vicomte du Barre took over
number 8 in 1778 and hosted parties and gambling. He died in a duel on
Claverton Down and is buried in the churchyard at the Church of St
Nicholas in Bathampton. From 1768 to 1774 number 9 was home to
Philip Thicknesse, a soldier of fortune. Number 11 was home to the
family of Thomas Linley, a singing-master and conductor of the
concerts from 1771. His second daughter Elizabeth Ann Linley, a singer
in her own right, eloped with the playwright and poet Richard Brinsley
Sheridan. The centre house of the crescent (#16) was used as a
residence and to host blue stocking events by Elizabeth Montagu.
The centre house, 16 Royal Crescent, Bath, was used as a residence and
Blue Stockings Society
Blue Stockings Society events by Elizabeth Montagu
In the nineteenth century the popularity of the Crescent and 'taking
the waters' at the Roman Baths diminished somewhat. Amongst the
Royal Crescent during this time were the electoral
Francis Burdett who lived at number 16 from 1814 to 1822 and
his daughter Angela Burdett-Coutts, 1st Baroness Burdett-Coutts.
The retired Admiral
William Hargood lived at number 9 from 1834 until
1839 and in 1866 the same house was home to Edward Bulwer-Lytton.
The jurist and explorer
Thomas Falconer briefly lived at number 18
before his death in 1882. A few years later the house next door at
number 17 became home to
Isaac Pitman who developed the most widely
used system of shorthand, now known as Pitman shorthand.
George Saintsbury took up residence at number 1A in
The houses and flats in the Crescent are a mixture of tenures. After
World War II
World War II when there was a shortage of housing and the city council
bought up older properties, including some in Royal Crescent, as
public housing to rent out. The
Housing Act 1985 changed the
succession of Council Houses and facilitated the transfer of council
housing to not-for-profit housing associations. Several were
subsequently sold into private ownership, however one remains in
No. 1 Royal Crescent
No. 1 Royal Crescent is a historic house museum, owned and maintained
Bath Preservation Trust
Bath Preservation Trust through its membership to illustrate
how wealthy owners of the late 18th century might have furnished and
occupied such a house. It was purchased in 1967 by Major Bernard
Cayzer, a member of the family that made its fortune through the Clan
shipping line. He donated it to the Trust with an amount of money for
its restoration and furnishing. The restoration was led by Philip
Bath Preservation Trust
Bath Preservation Trust was working during 2012–13 to
re-unite Number One with its original servants' wing at Number 1A
Royal Crescent, which has been in use as a separate dwelling for many
years. No. 1 serves as the Trust's headquarters. Number 15 and 16
are still used as a hotel.
Bath and North East
Somerset council made an order banning coaches and
buses from the crescent, after many years of complaints by residents
that the tours given to tourists were disruptive, particularly because
of the amplified commentary given by tour guides on open top
Architectural detail of the Ionic columns, entablature and cast iron
The crescent is 500 feet (150 m) long and each building is almost
50 feet (15 m) high, including small rooms with dormer windows in
the attic. The ground floor is plain emphasising the columns
and windows of the first floor. The 114 columns are 30 inches
(76 cm) in diameter reaching 47 feet (14.3 m), each with an
entablature 5 feet (1.5 m) deep in a Palladian style. The
central house (now the
Royal Crescent Hotel) boasts two sets of
coupled columns with a single window between them which is the middle
of the crescent.
They are built of Bath stone. They have slate roofs but were
originally stone tiled. The appearance of each house is very
similar with only minor variations between them for example some have
small balconettes on the first floor. Many of the windows have been
restored to their original style with glazing bars rather than the
horned plate glass sash windows which had been installed in the 19th
or early 20th centuries. Some of the window sills had also been
lowered. This has been reversed at Number 1 but policy has since
changed with a decision to keep the alterations which were made in the
19th century. In front of the houses are cast iron railings which
are mirrored by those on the opposite side of the road at the top of
Victoria Park. The road is surfaced with pennant stone laid when the
crescent was constructed.
Film and television
In 1965 the black comedy
The Wrong Box
The Wrong Box (1966) used the Royal Crescent
extensively as a location, standing in for London. The 1965 film Catch
Us If You Can also had a sequence filmed outside the crescent and in
one of its houses.
In 2007, a TV edition of Jane Austen's Persuasion, included many
scenes shot at the Royal Crescent, where the Elliot family was
supposedly living while in Bath. The
Royal Crescent featured in
the 2008 film The Duchess starring Keira Knightley.
The fictional heroine of BBC1 archaeology thriller
depicted as living in the Crescent.
A panoramic view of the Royal Crescent. The ha-ha can be seen
separating the upper and lower lawns.
List of Grade I listed buildings in Bath and North East Somerset
^ a b c d e f g h "Nos. 1-30 Royal Crescent". National Heritage List
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2017. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
^ a b "Five lamp columns". National Heritage List for England.
Historic England. Archived from the original on 6 March 2017.
Retrieved 5 March 2017.
^ "1A, Royal Crescent". National Heritage List for England. Historic
England. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 5
^ Lowndes 1981, p. 13.
^ "Von Essen's historic hotels: from Cliveden to Sharrow Bay's sticky
toffee pudding". Telegraph. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
^ a b Haddon 1982, p. 113.
^ Gadd 1987, pp. 100–101.
^ Crathorne 1998, p. 74.
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original on 19 October 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
^ Moon & Davidson 1995.
^ "The Northern crescents in Bath". Georgian Cities. Archived from the
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^ Gillespie, L.J. (15 July 2014). "B&NES Council to let grass grow
at Bath's Royal Crescent". Bath Chronicle. Retrieved 5 March
^ Hardisty, Jenny (2003). "The History of the Ha-ha". Royal Crescent
Society. Archived from the original on 7 July 2009. Retrieved 1
^ "Danger list reveals heritage at risk in Bath". Bath Chronicle. 7
July 2010. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
^ Maxwell, Roy (2003). "Beneath the Surface: Channel Four's Time Team
comes to Bath".
Royal Crescent Society. Archived from the original on
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^ Roy, Sidhartha (29 August 2011). "CP's blueprint: Bath's Crescent".
Hindustan Times. Archived from the original on 6 March 2017. Retrieved
5 March 2017.
^ De Sarkar, Dipanker. "Connaught Place: a Life in the Day". Live
Mint. Archived from the original on 6 March 2017. Retrieved 5 March
^ Baly, Monica. "The Day Bombs fell on Bath".
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^ Forsyth 2003, pp. 44–45.
^ a b c "Royal Crescent". Images of England. Archived from the
original on 3 November 2007. Retrieved 14 November 2006.
^ Crathorne 1998, pp. 79–83.
^ Forsyth 2003, p. 150.
^ Lowndes 1981, pp. 73–75.
^ "Offers made on two-thirds of von Essen hotels". Bath Chronicle. 5
September 2011. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
^ Harmer, Janet (30 January 2012). "Cliveden sale to complete tomorrow
as new owners promise to return property's sparkle". Caterer &
Hotelkeeper. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved
4 February 2012.
Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath". Topland Group. Archived from the
original on 6 March 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
^ Lowndes 1981, pp. 71–72.
^ Haddon 1982, pp. 113–114.
^ Crathorne 1998, pp. 75–77.
^ Lowndes 1981, p. 26.
^ Lowndes 1981, p. 31.
^ Lowndes 1981, p. 43.
^ Lowndes 1981, pp. 37–38.
^ Lowndes 1981, pp. 52–54.
^ Lowndes 1981, p. 60.
^ Lowndes 1981, p. 54.
^ Lowndes 1981, pp. 63–64.
^ Lowndes 1981, p. 67.
^ "The Best for the Most with the Least" (PDF). Museum of Bath
Architecture. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
^ Hal Pawson, Cathy Fancie (10 September 2003). The evolution of stock
transfer housing associations (Report). Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
ISBN 1-86134-545-3. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
^ Morris, Steven (28 February 2005). "Sale of premium flats in Bath
will house key workers". Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2017.
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^ "No 1 Royal Crescent". Images of England. Archived from the original
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^ Lowndes 1981, p. 24.
^ Forsyth 2003, p. 148.
^ "No 1 Royal Crescent". Bath Preservation Trust. Archived from the
original on 16 February 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
^ "Hotel and Spa". The Royal Crescent. Archived from the original on
23 February 2017. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
^ Whitfield, Martin. "Defenders of Bath 'jewel' aim to stop tour
buses: Residents say
Royal Crescent should close". Independent.
Retrieved 5 March 2017.
^ "General Information". Royal Crescent, Bath. Archived from the
original on 26 September 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
^ "Transportation Sub-Committee Tuesday, 20th October, 1998". Bath and
Somerset Council. Archived from the original on 6 March
2017. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
^ Crathorne 1998, p. 75.
^ Crathorne 1998, pp. 75–76.
^ Crathorne 1998, p. 76.
^ Forsyth 2003, pp. 147–150.
^ "Catch Us If You Can". Reel Streets. Archived from the original on 8
December 2015. Retrieved 27 November 2015.
^ "Filmography". Royal Crescent. Archived from the original on 4 March
2016. Retrieved 1 December 2015.
^ "Bath sets the scene for Duchess's social whirl". Bath Chronicle. 9
September 2008. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
^ "Film office: work rolling in despite
Bonekickers axing". Bath
Chronicle. 3 December 2008. Archived from the original on 8 December
2015. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
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Royal Crescent Book of Bath. Collins
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Gadd, David (1987). Georgian Summer: Rise and Development of Bath (2
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Haddon, John (1982). Portrait of Bath. Robert Hale.
Lowndes, William (1981). The
Royal Crescent in Bath. Redcliffe Press.
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