Savouring Bath News

Interview with Director of Savouring Bath, Mike James
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Watch our interview with Director of Savouring Bath, Mike James

City to Countryside: Bath Skyline Mini-Tour
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Bath’s blend of ‘town & country’ is one of the city’s greatest assets

In the final of our current series of mini-tours we’re leaving behind the city centre for the Bath Skyline. When I first moved here in 2010, I was completely enamoured by the closeness of the city to the countryside. I love how quickly you can get from the centre of the city, to a place with a feeling that you could be a hundred miles from anywhere.

The Bath Skyline is a green belt around the south east side of the city, which is largely land managed by the National Trust. You can find the full walking route on their website, with short and long options. Over my first few years of living in the city, I walked the full Skyline route 3 times every week. Watching the scenery change over this period made Bath feel so special. It’s one of the many reasons why I fell in love with the city and why I chose to stay.

Our mini-tour shares the short walk between the city centre and Bathwick Meadows. You’ll see how easy it is to reach, and why the shallow climb is worthwhile! The views over the city from here accentuate the city’s place at the heart of the Avon valley. There are also great views of the rolling hills of The Cotswolds which surround Bath on 3 sides of the city.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our mini-tours during the UK’s early 2021 lockdown period. We’ve loved making and sharing them with you and really appreciate the many lovely comments we’ve received. We’ll be producing more video content soon, so keep watching for more inspiration to visit one of Englands greatest cities.

Guildhall Market & Pulteney Bridge: Mini-Tour
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Bath’s Pulteney Bridge is unique!

It was constructed in the 1770’s by Scottish architect, Robert Adam, and influenced by similar bridges in Italy. Pulteney Bridge one of Bath’s iconic works of architecture and is allegedly is 1 of only 4 bridges in the world to have shops across its full span.

The weir below the bridge is reasonably modern (1970s) but there has been a weir here since the medieval period to help prevent flooding. The weir recently featured in a pivotal scene in the movie Les Miserables. The scene featured Russell Crowe’s character committing suicide here by jumping into the river.

Before the bridge, a passenger ferry offered a crossing service over the river. This allowed the city’s visitors to enjoy countryside pursuits in the Bathwick estate, owned by the Pulteney family. There was a plan to construct large a residential development here in the 1780s. Sadly, this decade saw revolution in France, leading to a Europe-wide recession, so the full plan was never realised. Nonetheless, Great Pulteney Street was completed to the design of Bath’s official City Architect, Thomas Baldwin. The street is the city’s longest boulevard, echoing similar streets in Paris. We’ll explore this and some of its famous residents on another mini-tour.

Our mini-tour starts at the Guildhall Market which is often over-looked by casual visitors to Bath. But it’s a must-see, not least for it’s history, but also for its interesting traders. At one time in it’s ancient past, the market was a most unpleasant place resembling little more than a messy abattoir! Today however, it’s an elegant and refined place to visit with interesting traders and lovely food & drink. Watch our mini-tour to find out more!

The Circus & Assembly Rooms: Mini-Tour
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The Circus (originally known as The King’s Circus) is one of the crowning achievement’s of Bath’s renowned architect of the 18th century, John Wood the Elder. He started construction in 1754 which was the same year he died, so he tragically never saw it completed, but it was completed by his son. The Circus is a circular residential development built of the honey-coloured Bath stone, in the Palladian style. It reflects Andrea Palladio’s ideals of balance, harmony & symmetry which he experimented with when building in the Republic of Venice during the 16th century. Wood was highly influenced by this form, and many believe the Circus to be his best work. Today, The Circus retains its sense of 18th elegance and remains primarily residential (please be sensitive to residents when enjoying the beautiful architecture here). It is renowned around the world as being one of the iconic pieces of architecture in our city.

Neighbouring The Circus, is the Assembly Rooms, also built by John Wood but in this case it was John Wood the Younger (son of ‘the Elder’!) who completed this fine entertainment venue in 1771. It is also still used for its original purpose – to provide a venue for entertainments to the masses. Its lavish interiors include a grand ballroom, a tea room, and the Octagon, all of which have been seen regularly in movies & TV shows reflecting various periods.

We explore this area in our mini-tour, taking in the honey-coloured facades and some great places to eat, drink, and watch the world go by. Join us once again, as we explore yet another intriguing, and beautiful part of this stunning city.

Union Passage & The Corridor: Mini-Tour
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Bath is a small city which is easy to navigate, but there’s lots of hidden nooks & crannies such as Union Passage. On this mini-tour we explore passages and alleyways close to the main streets, but slightly hidden away. It’s all seconds away from the Roman Baths Museum, Bath Abbey, and the city centre attractions. They’re characterful areas crammed full of independent businesses including handcrafted food and drink outlets. Union Passage looks especially pretty at night when many of the shops are closed. It’s covered with bunting and hanging lights, giving it a magical atmosphere.

Our mini-tour below also features Northumberland Place, New Bond Street Place, and The Corridor which is a 200 year old shopping mall. It’s had a chequered history of retailers and interesting residents including one of the early pioneers of cinema. There’s a barrel-shaped glass roof making it very light, and glass walkways where musicians would sit and play while you did your shopping. We visit all of these back-streets and share their fascinating history on our Guilty Pleasures, and Food Heroes tours.

Union Passage is full of cafes, coffee shops, jewellers, pubs, and gift shops. It’s also an area where you’ll find some lovely places for evening dining. Check out our vlog and the list of locations below to ensure you don’t miss out on your next visit to Bath!

Queen Square: Mini-Tour
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Queen Square in Bath is one of the early achievements of Bath’s great architect John Wood the Elder.

Queen Square was named after the wife of King George II, Caroline of Ansbach. It was built as part of John Wood’s grand vision to reinvent Bath as the new version of Ancient Rome. But the buildings we see today, were not all constructed at the same time. Wood laid out the street plan and designed the facades, then he sub-leased the plots to developers. This was his preferred scheme of speculative building. The first phase of the square was completed in the late 1720s, only a few years before Queen Caroline passed away in 1738.

The garden in the centre was originally surrounded by a low stone wall which was eventually replaced. Today, it’s surrounded by iron railings which date from the 1970s. The square also contains 2 pitches for playing pétanque or boules. Pétanque is popular in the city so in June each year Bath’s annual boules festival takes place in the square.

Dominating the square is the obelisk designed as a memorial to the eldest son of George II and Caroline, Frederick Prince of Wales. Frederick’s untimely death before that of his father ensured he never became the King of England he’d been destined to be. So the lineage passed to his son who eventually became George III.

The square is a great place to sit while enjoying some of the take-out options from nearby food and drink artisans covered in our tour. We hope you enjoy it!

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