When you’re travelling and you’ve set up a comfortable base somewhere it is tempting to make short excursions from it, to go off exploring somewhere else. Of course the alternative is to look around you, where you are already. On Tuesday 7 May, still in Bath, we made an effort to explore the city where we were staying.
Charlotte and I first visited the Roman Baths and the museum associated with it. For no extra money we got the company of crowds of French schoolchildren. The Baths I’d seen before; the Museum, was new to me. It says much for how thoroughly I enjoyed it that I didn’t particularly mind the noisy school children.
The New Assembly Rooms, our next destination, was a long walk up a steep hill. Some of my forebears had themselves carried there in sedan chairs. A fine idea, but my normal retinue doesn’t include a pair of chair men, so we had to foot it. Part of the reward for making the ascent was a look at a Gainsborough portrait of one of my relatives, Captain William Wade who, for a time, was the Bath Master of Ceremonies. He was put in the shade, so to speak, by a pair of magnificent chandeliers, said to be insured for many millions of pounds.
After lunch we went to Bath Abbey, where an organ concert was in progress. Listening to this gave me time to sit quietly and gaze about. The fan vaulting and the east window are particularly wonderful.
Then we walked back up the hill to the Circus, to the Crescent and to Portland Place, all marvellous examples of Georgian architecture. 5 Portland Place was built by my (appropriately) 5th great grandfather Philip Champion Crespigny in 1786. He died there in 1803. The steps in front of 5 Portland Place had – and it’s still there – a ramp for the sedan chairs.
Back down to the Assembly Rooms again to visit the Fashion Museum and then on to the Victoria Art Gallery.
We came home via Pulteney Bridge over the River Avon, designed by Robert Adam and built by William Pulteney né Johnstone (1729 – 1805), one of my 7th great uncles. I’m glad he put it there. After all my walking I didn’t want to have to swim.
We bought some Bath buns to have with tea.