Regency H/(N)ot Spots: Bath

Ah, Bath.  The great bastion of health and leisure.

If you are ever in England, Bath is a place not to miss!  From its Roman bath history, to the picturesque plaza and cathedral, to the stunning architecture, Bath is a city where Georgian England comes alive.

And in the Pump Room, you can still “take the waters” although it tastes dreadful and it is doubtful whether or not it truly has any medicinal qualities.

In its hey-day, development and attention to genteel activities made Bath the perfect resort town for the rich and leisurely.  Georgian architecture and development established Bath as an aristocratic destination where peers might enjoy the delights and benefits of the spa.  (Much like modern spa retreat towns).

Like all boom-towns, Bath had its real estate speculators.  One notable visionary was John Wood who loved the Palladian revival, and conceived of buildings that had the grandeur and detail of palaces but the privacy and affordability of private row houses.

While in Bath, the ton could not only enjoy the benefits of the baths, but also rub elbows with other peers, attend concerts, balls, or flood the Pump Room to see and be seen.  Because Bath developed as a tourist, rather than industrial, city it would have been a welcome respite from London (but without sacrificing Society!).

The Circus, Bath, drawn by Robert Woodroffe c.1829 (Victoria Art Gallery, Bath)

Around the 1800s, Bath began its descent as a hot spot as the population boomed to over 40,000.  The constant demands of the tourist, seaside destination popularity among the ton and increasing accessibility by the middle class, reduced its exclusivity and gradually gave way to its new identity as a retirement community.  Unfortunately, this was simulateneous to the development of new theatres, park, and other amenities (or perhaps fortunately for the new/oldcomers!).

Still popular with the old folks in Regency times, Bath was the spot for the aged and infirm to rest, recuperate and relax.

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