The 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 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 opposite.
Many notable people have either lived or stayed in the Royal Crescent
since it was first built over 240 years ago, and some are commemorated
on special plaques attached to the relevant buildings. Of the Royal
Crescent's 30 townhouses, 10 are still full-size townhouses; 18 have
been split into flats of various sizes; 1 is the No. 1 Royal Crescent
museum and the large central house at number 16 is the Royal Crescent
* 1 Design and construction
* 2 History
* 3 Notable residents
* 4 Current use
* 5 Architecture
* 6 Film and television
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 9 Bibliography
* 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
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
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 produced by
English Heritage but have been
restored and removed from the register.
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 used the
Crescent as a source of inspiration to design the central business
Connaught Place, New Delhi
Connaught Place, New Delhi , India.
Bath Blitz of
World War II
World War II , known as the Baedecker Raids
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 unsuccessful.
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 become the
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 max-width:149px"> 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
Elizabeth Ann Linley , a singer in her own right, eloped with
the playwright and poet
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
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 benevolent
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
Elizabeth Ann Linley , a singer in her own right,
eloped with the playwright and poet
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
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 to host Blue
Stockings Society events by
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
Angela Burdett-Coutts, 1st Baroness Burdett-Coutts . The
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 . English professor
George Saintsbury took up residence at number 1A in 1916.
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 is a historic house museum , owned and
maintained by the
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 Jebb . The
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 buses.
Architectural detail of the Ionic columns, entablature and cast
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 pennant 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 (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
* List of Grade I listed buildings in Bath and North East
* ^ A B C D E F G H "Nos. 1-30 Royal Crescent". National Heritage
List for England. Historic England. Archived from the original on 6
March 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 March 2017.
* ^ 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.
* ^ "
Royal Crescent History". Royal Crescent, Bath. Archived from
the original on 19 October 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
* ^ Moon & Davidson 1995 .
* ^ "The Northern crescents in Bath". Georgian Cities. Archived
from the original on 11 October 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2017.
* ^ 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 November 2009.
* ^ "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 31 January 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2009.
* ^ 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". Royal Crescent
Society. Archived from the original on 31 January 2008. Retrieved 1
* ^ 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 Feb