Bath And The Week That Was
24 September 2017
Bath is synonymous with history. As a city it’s teaming with fascinating stories from years gone by. These are just a few of the big events that took place this week in yesteryear…
September 25th 1790 – A Temple is Found
While work was being undergone to install the new Pump Room in Stall Street (the one which is there today), workmen who were digging the foundations came across ancient columns measuring 3ft 8in across. It was discovered that these had once been part of a Roman temple dedicated to Minerva the Goddess of Wisdom.
September 26th 1878 – A Day Trip From London to Bath (By Bike)
Walter S. Britters of the Clarence Bicycle Club decided to try riding from London to Bath and back to London again in under 24 hours. The journey would be one of 212 miles. He began at midnight from Hyde Park, reached Bath at 11:30 a.m. and sent a telegram (to prove he’d been there probably), then made it back to Hyde Park with time to spare. He did it to find out how great a distance could be covered easily in a day. (N.B. - Easily? Depends on your point of view. It’s much easier to do a daytrip to Bath from London by train!)
September 27th 1819 – The Duke of Wellington Draws A Crowd
The Duke of Wellington, or Arthur Wellesley as he was known before his success in the Peninsular War of 1808-14, came to Bath for a visit while he was staying with his friend, Earl Bathurst, near Cirencester. He only stayed for a few hours but in that time he toured Bath with the mayor and remarked that the buildings were beautiful and had great uniformity.
September 29th 1883 – Oscar Wilde Comes to Bath
“Mr Oscar Wilde appeared for the first time before a provincial audience on Saturday at the Bath Theatre Royal, and delivered his lecture on “Personal Impressions on America”.” Some of his conclusions on the U.S. were that the people were all in a hurry, but that the Americans were the most comfortably dressed people in the world. There were other thoughts, but too many to go into – the lecture lasted two hours.
September 30th 1771 – The Assembly Rooms Open
The Upper Assembly Rooms as they were first known opened on this day with a ridotto (a combination of a dance and a musical concert). Bath’s current assembly rooms, dubbed Harrison’s Lower Assembly Rooms, had ceased to be large enough when Bath’s popularity was consistently increasing, so John Wood the Younger designed a new set of assembly rooms that would be bigger and nearer to the upper, more fashionable part of town.
More tales of Bath in by-gone times like those above can be read in The Bath Book of Days by D.G. Amphlett. (The Bath Tourist Information Office and Waterstones are two places in Bath that we know currently have copies).