Beautiful Bath England, The Royal Crescent and the King's Circus  

Posted by Heidi

Bath.  I didn't know quite what to expect of the town itself.  After touring the Roman baths (to read that post click HERE) we weren't sure which way to go.  Finally we decided that we had time to walk to the Pulteney Bridge.  This photo is of the River Avon (there are many in England) with the bridge behind me as I took the photo.  The people looking over the edge are on the road that goes from the Abbey (where we started) to the bridge.  (Be sure to click on this photo to enlarge it--it's full of lovlies.)

The Pulteney Bridge, with the weir below, is exceptional in that it is lined on both sides with buildings.  They are pubs and shops--I even saw a grocery store.

The bright colored photos of food on the wall to the right is often the best indicator that you are in the vicinity of a grocery store in England.  At this point, we had only been in the country for 2.5 days so I did not recognize it for what it was.  Cars are still allowed on the bridge but there is talk of making it a vehicle-free zone.

As we left the area of the abbey and the Roman baths, we came across this police station.  (DD wants to be a K-9 officer.)

And we spotted this church.  (It can be seen from the other side in the top photo of this post.)

And this perfect house.  A white house with a green door and pink geraniums, as well as a pediment with corbels, a brass "Medusa" door knocker and panelled shutters, is pretty much perfect in my book.

And this cute store called "Stag" with its attendant stag.  (It was also very cute inside.)  I love the "Wanted--Customers" sign.

If she was trying to cop the same expression as the stag, she did a marvelous job.

And this gorgeous pedimented portico that served as the entry to a restaurant.

And this marvelously flower bedecked establishment.  (We didn't eat here either.)  (I'm pretty sure we didn't.  Eat, that is. Like, at all.)  What we didn't realize is that we had circled around and were pretty much back to where we started.  So, we headed out again.

We came across this lovely garden.

This was one of the lovelies in said garden, but I am much more smitten with the bit of a square tower behind the trees.  (I think it is part of the abbey.)

Here's the same photo with all of the people pictured this time.  The abbey is off camera to the left and the bridge is off camera to the right.  (Just trying to paint a picture for those going on a virtual journey with me.  I know you are out there.  Thanks for coming!)

Bath is made almost entirely of this mellow yellow "Bath" stone.  It glows in the sun and puts one in mind of a warm, tropical beach.  This is a welcome reminder as Bath is never what you would call super warm.

This is the same building from a different angle.  If I had known that the sidewalk we traversed was held up by these ancient pillars, I'm not sure if I would have taken the risk.

We made friends with her.  (We knew she was a "she" because of the pink lipstick.)

Spotted this gorgeous white, metal, over-door window decor.  (Would have willingly dragged that around for the rest of the tour if only . .. )

Salivated over these architectural details . .

 . . just a few of many on this blue-domed building (I believe it is a theater but I was pretty food-deprived by then and the brain was functioning worse than normal).

Enjoyed the poetry of the tiny white and gray cloud just to the right of one of the lower spires of this church.  (That IS a cloud, right?  It's not a bird or a plane or a UFO?)  (I didn't think so.)

A great pub/restaurant (there are three eateries inside of this building) on the bridge with a lovely veiw of the water.

A lovely white building (I believe this is also a grocery store.  Indeed, the same one as before.  Same store but different building--so two of these on the same bridge.) (I guess there is never too much of a good thing.)

Then it was time to rush back to catch the coach.  On the way there we passed this gorgeousness.  It is the entrance to a popular family-style restaurant that we saw many times in England called Garfield's.  This was certainly the classiest one that we saw.  (I suppose Garfield could refer to some respectable individual but since it was an Italian place, all I could think of was Garfield, the lasagne-loving cat.  Not too classy in my book.)

Heading back towards the abbey.  What a great way to display all of your extra hanging flower baskets.

Very possibly the only gray building we saw in Bath (other than the church with the spire.  Er, the *taller* spire).

Where we met the coach.  I really should have gotten more assertive about photos of this monument.  I didn't even walk over there to find out what it is in tribute to/of.  (Pretty much starving by this point).  (Actual flesh is falling off of my bones.)

Once we were back on the coach, we commenced our coach tour of Bath.  The photo above (which is NOT my photo--I credit Pinterest) represents the King's Circus (or, just the Circus) in the foreground and The Crescent in the background.  These are both Stunning Examples of Georgian Architecture for which Bath is Famous.

First, one must enter the hallowed portals.  (Those of us using the road didn't have a portal.)

There were many, many (many X 4) people at the Crescent.  I have cut most of them out.  This photo depicts the center section.  As you can see, some of the units are brighter than others.  That is because some people have the facade cleaned on occasion.  There is one unit with scaffolding in front of it, just to the left of center.  I have seen photos of the Crescent when visiting the Jane Austen Festival website and I was a little disappointed at how drab it all looked.  (I blame the clouds.)

Here's the left end of the Crescent.  

And here is the right end.  This is the first time I have seen these photos so large.  This is also the first time I have noticed that each end has an end unit that is probably larger than the others.  That means that all of the windows you see on this end (24) belong to one house.  That is quite the flat!  (I want one.)

And then we went to The Circus.  This is round and has, based on the Pinterest photo above, one gigantic tree in the center.  (I am trying to remember if it was just one.  Not sure.)

If there is just one tree in the center of The Circus, the tree to the right is The One.  (Oh, look!  These have huge end-cap mansions, too!)

I am positively certain that life in one of these graceful abodes is better than in some other abode.

I love the carved frieze depicting various occupations/avocations.  How wonderful!

These bas-relief images are fascinating.  Click on the photo to get a closer look.

The plaque over the door of this unit, #17, tells us that this is the one-time home of Thomas Gainsborough.   If you have read any Georgian or Regency era novels by Georgette Heyer, you have heard tell of TG.  He was THE painter of the day, and for obvious reasons.  (Click on his name for images of his paintings.)

Next week:  Our next stop, the MacDonald Bath Spa Hotel (which is stunning) and my first Regency book cover photo shoot, not to be confused with the Nearly Famous London Photo Shoot  This first shoot took place in Bath and stars someone very important in the Jane Austen world. Woo-hoo!

The Roman Baths and All of Their Attendant Charms  

Posted by Heidi

 Bath:  as it turns out, it is one of my favorite places on earth.  I suspected that I would quite like it as it is a true Regency-era town.  By that I mean it is full of Georgian architecture, the building style that dominated the Regency period.  Beau Nash is the man responsible for this very popular architectural style and he, along with Beau Brummel (the doyen of Regency fashion) and the Prince Regent, created the "Regency" with their bare hands . . . er, personal style.  By the time Prince George, known as "Prinny", took over the reins of the kingdom as regent, Bath had become relegated to the oldsters while the young and fashionable flocked to Brighton.  And yet, Bath was still a popular watering hole for the declasse.  Jane Austen, along with her family, lived at 4 Sydney Place in Bath for approximately four years.  (I am in no way implying that Jane and her family were declasse.  Having said that, Brighton was not in their budget.) 

Prior to disembarking, we were instructed that Bath is not pronounced in the same way we speak of our bathrooms at home.  It is said as if you are a sheep.  (Baa-baa black sheep have you any bread?)  (Unless you are a Liverpudlian, in which case you would pronounce it the same way Americans say bath-as-in-tub.  And yet, said Liverpudlian (if you are from LiverPOOL you are a LiverPUDlian--pool, puddle, get it?) bathes in a "baff"-rhymes-with-staff.  Go figure.) We got off the coach at Bath Abbey.  There was so much to see as we milled about waiting for instructions.  The cartouches on this building are absolutely scrumptious.  No riot of flowers required, this understated, spread out display is staidly perfect.

Bath Abbey is a stunning edifice.  Technically it is known as the Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul.  Founded in the 7th century, it enjoyed reorganization, rebuilding and major shoring up in the 10th, 12th, 16th and 19th centuries.  It sports a stunning array of symbolic sculpture.  Seeing as I am a short, blind(ish) woman armed with a point and shoot camera with surprising range, I took many photos.  Sadly, I have not been able to find any information online as to what all of these objects mean (outside of religious devotion).  

I particularly wish I knew which king dwells above the front portals.  Based on how he looks, my guess is King Henry the Third who reigned for most of the 1200's.  We were lucky in that we were there on the same day that the students of one school/college/university or another were celebrating their commencement ceremonies at the abbey.   Hence, there were many, many people wandering about whilst looking very English and collegiate and, dare I say, relieved.  

As such, I began to point my camera mostly upwards/above head-level.  

As per the usual, I was blown away by all of the sculpture and detail.  

The unknown king, again.  Maybe some of my British friends will identify him for me.  (He is very handsome.)  (I'm talkin' 'bout the king.) 

Ah, so many "Satan bobbles"  designed to keep the devil from sliding down into the church.  

Mostly I am intrigued by the heart in the circle of rope surrounded by all of those scrolled banners.  It seems so different and out of place from the other carvings around it.  

The enlargement reveals two pierced feet and two pierced hands encircling the rope, so I believe it is safe to assume that the heart represents that of Christ.  (I am perturbed by the lack of a head but I'm trying not to think about it.) The above photo also reveals some interesting Crusader symbols on the shield. Crusading was hugely popular during the 1100's, the century in which this building first went up.  

There are Georgian row houses to the left of the abbey.  What a view they must afford!

There are some lovely little angels climbing a ladder on the right.  The sculptor in the center of the Gothic window is of a man in Crusader style clothing.  The sculpture on the left is enlarged below to reveal . . . 

. . . a tree and a crown topped by a bishop's mitre.  (I am so impressed with myself that I knew this b/c I am not Catholic.  Just to be sure, I investigated and sure enough, popes do not wear mitres.  One exception is Pope Benedict XVI who broke with tradition and replaced the papal tiara with a mitre.) I suspect there is more to know about these symbols but I have not yet found any specific info.

There are some famous people in this photo.  Well, famous in certain circles. They were on our tour group with us.  Give me a shout out if you recognize anyone.  

At this point, we were all standing in line, waiting to enter the Roman Baths.  This building is pretty darn close to the abbey.  This is something we just don't see in the U.S.  We have enough room to stretch things out a bit.  At the time these structures were built, it made a lot of sense to have everything close together.  There wasn't a lot of space to begin with, everything needed to fit within the city walls for protection, and few people had transportation--certainly nothing that moved very fast. (So, yes, it makes sense, but it is still so very strange to this California girl.)

It was not terribly bright in this part of the "baths".  It is a gorgeous reception area known as the visitor entrance, added in 1897, complete with stunning ceilings which I dutifully attempted to document.  The lack of light was a bit of a problem.  

I do so love this one with its tinge of pink on the right. It isn't really pink--my camera just made it so.  (She loves me.)

This grainy photo is a bit of a coup.  See what it looked like coming out of my camera.  (She hates me.)

I could, quite happily, have lain (pretty sure that's correct but don't quote me) on the floor of this room and stared up at this ceiling for the better part of my life.

We walked through the reception area, somehow missing the Pump room which is the room I most wanted to see since that is where all of the witty chit-chat happened amongst the society people who were dressed and drinking the water rather than undressed and bathing in it (precluding witty repartee, or one can only assume--I hear the water tastes awful--and, no, we did not taste it) to emerge into the open air where we had new views of the abbey.

Most of these Romanesque statues were added after the Regency era by the Victorians, enthusiastic revivalists that they were.

Each of the column pedestals to the left is of a different animal.  That's dedication.  

The statues are on the upper level (the terrace) and so we are looking down from a great height to get this view of the actual Bath water.  Nothing from the pedestals up were present during the Regency, the time period with which I am most interested.  However, these baths have been here since Roman times.  

I was fairly enamoured of this bridge.  I took its photo numerous times.  

Bright blue seems to be the color of choice for England.  If something needs a lick of paint, this Tiffany Blue is the one.  I confess that it is lovely and really brightens things up. 

The urns, the elephant pedestal, the scrolls:  it's the little things that make a house a home. 

View of the abbey from the baaaa-ths.  

The complex includes a museum.  In it one can find this partial pediment from the original temple featuring what is known as the Bladud Gorgon.  Or the water god, Oceanus.  Or a Celtic sun god.  It all depends on whom you ask.  

There is so much history here that I feel overwhelmed by it.  If you are interested, I urge you to read up on the baths and their surroundings.  One factoid I feel compelled to share is this:  about 130 curse tablets have been found in the area, many of them relating to the thefts of clothes whilst the owner was bathing.  

It was a day of alternating clouds and sunshine.  The golden stone against a true blue sky is a sight to behold.  Next time:  the oh-so-charming city of Bath.