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The History of Bath (IV and final part)


The final process in the definitive economic recovery of Bath came with the arrival of the Swansea-born dandy Richard 'Beau' Nash, Bath's most distinguished citizen. When he was appointed Master of Ceremonies, an office whose duty it was to regulate the social life of the town, Bath became the centre of the social life of the nation and was visited by many fashionable people. This new impetus created the need for the construction of numerous buildings of architectural interest to reflect the wealth of the newcomers.

The fashionable life of the town and the development of its architecture went hand in hand. The most prominent architects responsible for the excellent monuments of artistic beauty are the Woods, John Wood a Yorkshire architect, his son, also John, and Ralph Allen. Allen, a successful businessman, bought the Combe Down stone quarries and he and John Wood together in their respective spheres of influence transformed the town. On the death of his father John Wood the younger carried on this partnership.

The role of Bath as social centre of England lasted as long as Nash was alive. After his death the social enthusiasm of the city gradually but inexorably petered out. In recognition of his contribution to the development of the city a statue to Nash was erected in 1752 in the Pump Room. The last house he lived in still stands and is now a restaurant.

It was under the influence of Nash that the the city was transfromed into a fashionable spa. He left his indelible mark on the urban development in Bath in the form of many grandiose buildings of architectural excellence. The most prominent of these are undoubtedly Royal Crescent completed in 1774 by John Wood the younger and the Circus built by both father and son over a period of twenty years.

A number of important figures have had connections with Royal Crescent and Circus: Sir Isaac Pitman lived at No. 12, Royal Crescent and Sheriden eloped with Elizabeth Linley from No. 11. William Pitt lived in what is now Nos. 7 and 8, Gainsborough at No. 17 and David Livingstone at No. 13.


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latest update: 17/4/04