Posts Tagged ‘Bath’

Gentle Readers, Nicola Hyman, one of the authors of The Pump Room Orchestra, Three Centuries of Music and Social History, a book that she co-wrote with her musician husband, Robert, sent me this information about music in the Pump Room. The book is available at Hobnob Press in the UK.

The Pump Room Orchestra is believed to be the first resident band in the country to play in an assembly room in the early 1700s. The book chronicles the three hundred year old history of this Band, from its inception to today. Beau Nash founded the Band and, during his sojourn, his supremacy over its management was unequalled. However, over the decades municipal philistinism, wars, economic slumps and the appeal of (usually Italian), virtuosi in Bath threatened its almost unbroken continuity. Handel visited Bath in 1749 and collaborated with Thomas Chilcot whose support of the Pump Room Band leader, during one of its most intense conflicts, is explored in the book. Thomas Linley and William Herschel both played in the Band in the 1760s. Haydn enthused over the progress of the new Grand Pump Room built in 1795 where the present Trio play. The glamorous backdrop of eighteenth century Bath was underpinned by a climate of fierce rivalry and partisan affiliations among many musicians, many who struggled to survive.

Several fine German musicians were directors or members of the Pump Room Orchestra during the nineteenth century, including up to the Great War, the great grandfather of Bristol based composer Richard Barnard. Bath was now a more sober city, its appeal as a resort diminishing and the Corporation’s control of the Pump Room Orchestra a constant challenge. During bleak pre Great War years, Holst conducted the Orchestra for the first performance of his Somerset Rhapsody.

During the Spa hey day of the 1920s ‘cellist Gilhermina Suggia, contralto Edna Thornton , violinist Daniel Melsa, Arthur Rubenstein and Solomon are just a few of the well known guest soloists who played with the Orchestra. Sir Thomas Beecham conducted the Orchestra several times during this period. Elgar was another guest conductor. As Spa Director, John Hatton’s progressive style of marketing revived Bath as a tourist attraction. A thriving Pump Room Orchestra reflected the unique collaboration Hatton had with Jan Hurst, the Orchestra’s director.

In the late 1930s the Orchestra was directed by the distinguished Maurice Miles and concerts were regularly aired on the BBC. His predecessor, the brilliant and popular ‘showman’ Edward Dunn, had emigrated to South Africa. Dunn’s role as Durban’s Director of Music led him after the War to build up an International Arts League of Youth Festivals across South Africa. While, after the Second World War, the direction of the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Northern Ireland Orchestra were among Maurice Miles’s later roles.

However, it is the forgotten army of predominantly rank and file players in the Orchestra which is a central theme in the book. Many of these players were given solo roles and played in chamber ensembles in the Pump Room. Our research has divulged fascinating cameos, many tragic but many invested with astonishing devotion to music in the Pump Room and to Bath. One example was Lawrence Lackland who switched, at Lionel Tertis’ suggestion, to viola, and whose father was a violinist in St Helens under Thomas Beecham’s early orchestra.

The Pump Room Trio at the fountain

A piano trio was the phoenix from the ashes of the Second World War, an unbroken legacy to this day. Now two violinists share the role dividing the 363 days of music in the Pump Room between them. All four members of the Trio are experienced, conservatoire trained musicians (RCM, RAM, RNCM, the Juilliard School).
People from all over Britain and the world come to the Pump Room. For many the visit is a regular pilgrimage, whether they be tourists or academics; their awe of the building enhanced by the music. Many writers, researchers and musicians have shared their expertise and knowledge in the development of this book. It is a departure from the many histories of Bath which are usually focussed on its architecture and archaeology. As such it covers unchartered territory – the people who played in the Pump Room. Trevor Fawcett, the eminent social historian and 18th century expert on Bath, has kindly helped with editing and other suggestions. The book will be marketed in Bath and other Spa towns in Britain as well as other independent book shops in this country and overseas. The publisher John Chandler (see http://www.hobnobpress.co.uk) will oversee distribution and contributes to on-line sales sites, such as Amazon. The book is eagerly awaited by the many contributors, either as a relative of an Orchestra member, regular visitor to the Pump Room, research contributor or musician.
© Nicola and Robert Hyman

To order The Pump Room Orchestra, Bath: Three Centuries of Music and Social History

US customers can order the book at Amazon.com at this link.

Please find attached the website http://www.hobnobpress.co.uk for an order form for those readers who would like to purchase The Pump Room Orchestra, Bath: Three Centuries of Music and Social History. Robert Hyman, (who studied at the Juilliard School, New York) is a violinist in the Pump Room Trio in Bath. Together he and his wife Nicola have researched and written this history. The book has a Foreward by Tom Conti. Colour plates include a photo ‘Leaving the Pump Room’ of ladies dressed in costume for the annual Jane Austen Festival. Two chapters in the book explore music in the Pump Room when Austen first visited Bath. They are ‘When Jane Austen Came to Bath’ and ‘After Rauzzini’. There is also a chapter called Screen and Stage which chronicles movies filmed in and around the Pump Room; actors who visit or have visited the Pump Room, some because they are performing at the Theatre Royal in Bath, and also TV productions of Jane Austen’s novels, where many of the scenes were filmed in the Pump Room. UK customers can order the book directly from the publisher. 

November 2011, 214 pages + 8 pages of colour, £14.95. ISBN 978-0-946418-74-9.

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Inquiring readers: Patrick Baty of Papers and Paints is noted for his analysis of paint colours of the interiors and exteriors of buildings of architectural significance. He is consulted on both sides of the Atlantic. Mr. Baty has graciously allowed me to reproduce his blog post about exterior paint colours in the city of Bath. A link to more detailed articles sit at the bottom of this post.

Patrick was commissioned to carry out an analysis of the paint on a number of buildings in the City. The purpose was to establish the decorative history of representative doors, windows and railings and to see whether one colour predominated on each element.

How had external painted surfaces appeared when Jane Austen lived there in the early 19th century, for example?

Royal Crescent

The Royal Crescent was built between 1767 and 1774. When the railings were sampled, 27 individual schemes were found, which suggests an average repainting cycle of about eight years. The first scheme was a pale lead (grey) colour. This kind of colour was used on the next fifteen occasions – probably until the end of the 19th century. Dark green and red-brown has been used subsequently, with black employed twice and then only since the 1970s.

Lead Colour

7 Alfred Street

Alfred Street is believed to have been built in 1772. When the railings of No 7 were sampled approximately 45 individual schemes were found, which suggests a repainting cycle of about five years. A stone colour was employed initially and variants of this appeared until the 1810s, when lead colour was introduced. Dark green appears to have been used from the middle of the 19th century, before giving way to red-brown. Black was only applied on the last three occasions.

Bronze Green

Pierrepont House

36 schemes were encountered on the railings of Pierrepont House. Lead colour was employed until the middle of the 19th century, when dark green was introduced. Black has never been used on these railings.

Chapel House

Chapel House railing

The railings of Chapel House, behind the Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel, displayed approximately 38 decorative schemes. As the Chapel was built in 1765 this suggests a repainting cycle of about six years. The first two schemes were in lead colour and the third was in a stone colour. Unusually blue was employed on the fourth occasion. The remainder of the sequence consisted of variants of stone colour and dark green. Black had only been adopted in the 1980s.

As will be seen from the few examples cited here, grey and stone colours were employed on railings in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Dark green seems to have been generally adopted from about 1850 and, perhaps surprisingly, black only made its appearance in the late 20th century. Its use has nothing to do with being a sign of mourning for the death of Prince Albert – a belief held by many of the cognoscenti. This has been borne out by examining numerous examples of external ironwork across the country.

Specialist Profile, Patrick Baty

Patrick Baty provides more fascinating information about exterior paint colors on his blog, Patrick Baty, in three downloadable Scribd documents: External Paintwork, The Colour of Chelsea, and The Use of Colour on Architectural Ironwork, 1660 – 1960. You can also read an article about him,Specialist Profile, on the blog.

Please note: I place no ads on my blog, nor do I collect revenue from them. The ads you see in the comment section were placed there by WordPress.

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Archway opposite Union Passage, Constance Hill

Half a minute conducted them through the pump-yard to the archway, opposite Union Passage; but here they were stopped. Everybody acquainted with Bath may remember the difficulties of crossing Cheap Street at this point; it is indeed a street of so impertinent a nature, so unfortunately connected with the great London and Oxford roads, and the principal inn of the city, that a day never passes in which parties of ladies, however important their business, whether in quest of pastry, millinery, or even (as in the present case) of young men, are not detained on one side or other by carriages, horsemen, or carts. This evil had been felt and lamented, at least three times a day, by Isabella since her residence in Bath; and she was now fated to feel and lament it once more, for at the very moment of coming opposite to Union Passage, and within view of the two gentlemen who were proceeding through the crowds, and threading the gutters of that interesting alley, they were prevented crossing by the approach of a gig, driven along on bad pavement by a most knowing-looking coachman with all the vehemence that could most fitly endanger the lives of himself, his companion, and his horse.- Northanger Abbey

Cheap Street in 2010, Image Tony Grant

“Oh, these odious gigs!” said Isabella, looking up. “How I detest them.” But this detestation, though so just, was of short duration, for she looked again and exclaimed, “Delightful! Mr. Morland and my brother!”

Another angle of the street

The Walking Tour of Bath provides a map that mentions many of the streets described by Jane Austen in the above passage, accompanied by images from medieval times to today.

Cheap Street runs just north and parallel to the Abbey. In this turn-of-the-century post card of Union Passage, which intersects Cheap Street, one can see how drastically different Bath looked back then – many of the Georgian features are hidden under shop signs.

Union Passage in the Early 19th Century, Bath Post Cards

The Walking Tour mentions how Bath’s 18th century forefathers were concerned about preserving the nature of Bath’s gentrified renovations.

Incidentally, a friend who used to live in an 18th c. flat just round the corner in North Parade Buildings had some amusing conditions attached to the terms of his lease. He was prohibited from hanging bedding out of the window, holding public auctions and keeping livestock. One can only presume that the Georgian city fathers, having gentrified Bath at great expense, were concerned to prevent the locals spoiling things by falling back into their old peasant ways.”

Coal soot blackened stone facades. Image Chuck and Claire Davis

The creamy colored limestone stone used in many of Bath’s architectural treasures have been used for building since the days of the Roman occupation.  The above image from European Adventure demonstrates how soot from coal fires blackened the buildings. Jane Austen was probably more familiar with these blackened facades than the creamy stones we are accustomed to viewing nowadays.

…in 1956 a clean air act was imposed. The townspeople were no longer allowed to burn coal and the buildings were painstakingly cleaned. He’s not sure why, but one building was left untouched, giving us the chance to see how they had looked.”

Today, the authentic nature of the buildings are still enforced legally. The Enforcement Policy in Bath Shopfronts Guide today requires:

Colour: No other single aspect of design has so much effect on the character of a shopfront than its colour. A good design can be completely spoilt by poor colour, or a nondescript design uplifted by the right choice of colour. Colour also has an effect on the Street Scene; out of key or aggressive colour will be damaging to everything within the field of vision.

Signs: The design and disposition of signs and the style of the lettering should always be historically credible and correct in design and detail for the design of the shopfront.

Illumination: The character of a shopfront and of the street will be altered by external illumination. This is often not acceptable, particularly where the shopfront is part of a listed building.

Appearance: Changes of a radical nature such as moving door positions are not normally acceptable. These may however be viewed more favourably if they can be shown to produce a permanent benefit such as the provision of a door to the upper floors.”

The cases described in The Bath Heritage Watchdog shows how vigilant the planning commission must be to preserve Bath’s unique heritage, and how historic preservation often clashes with business interests.

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Inquiring Readers, Tony Grant has been contributing articles to Jane Austen Today for several months. Recently, Tony and his family traveled to Bath and the West Country. This is one of many posts he has written about his journey. Tony also has published several posts about his trip on this blog: Going to Bath With Jane Austen and The Servant’s Entrance to Regency Townhouses, for which he supplied the photographs. He has already contributed a post about Milsom Street for Jane Austen Today. This post about his tour through Bath was first published on Jane Austen Today, but the images caused the sidebar to be pushed out of sight, so I placed it here.

Bath Thoroughfare
Jane Austen knew Bath extremely well. Throughout Persuasion and Northanger Abbey she houses her characters in real streets and in real buildings, although she does avoid giving us the number of the house in such and such a street. The real owners and occupants might not have liked the notoriety. And today they might not like the notoriety as well. Was there such a thing as litigation in the 18th century? I’m sure there was.

Pultney Bridge

Here are some of the places that Janes characters lived in and when you go to Bath you can see them for yourself.

  • Anne Elliot and her father lived in Camden Place up the hill at the top of the town.
  • Lady Russel lived in Rivers Street just north of The Circus.
  • Rich, Mrs Wallis lived in Marlborough Gardens on the hill leading down from the north end of The Royal Crescent.
  • Catherine Moreland lived in Pultney Street, which is now called Great Pultney Street, very close to Sydney Street. I wonder if Jane saw somebody in Pultney Street that she thought, “ah, that’s Catherine Moreland.”
  • The Dowager Viscountess Dalrymple lived in Laura Place at the end of Great Pultney Street and at the start of Pultney Bridge.

The meeting places and places central to both novels are Milsom Street where everybody shops. Shopping, the bain of my life. My wife and three daughters love shopping. Shopping could be their lives. In Jane’s time tooapparently. It makes me come out in a cold sweat thinking about it. The amount of standing in shops and outside of shops I’ve done.

God, I’ve suffered for shopping over the years.

Ah, that’s better. I needed that rant.

Also the Pump room. What a glorious place it is. I felt a tingle down my spine as I my wife, Abigail and myself were shown to our seats by the headwaiter and we were graciously handed the menus. A trio of musicians, cello, pianist and violinist, played sedately at one end of the room. People lined up at the water pump to imbibe Baths greatest commodity, water from the spring and we ordered tea and cakes.

Pump room window
The “pump room blend” of tea is as close as you can get to the blend of tea that Jane Austen, Catherine Morland and Anne Elliot would have drunk. The scones with clotted cream and fresh strawberry jam were exquisite. The tea was delicious and there I was with my family, in THE PUMP ROOM!!!!!!

The Pump Room

I could almost see Catherine Morland pop in to see if she could find Henry Tilney and of course take a few turns of the room to see and be seen. I knew nobody in The Pump Room just as Catherine knew nobody.

Bath Abbey

Then we had a look inside Bath Abbey. Jane seems to have not attended services at the abbey. She preferred The Octagon. This was a newly built chapel in Jane’s day. She seems to have preferred churches where the incumbent vicar had new and fresh ideas to deliver in his sermons.

Cheap Street
After Bath Abbey we walked through the passageway that leads from the churchyard opposite The Pump Rooms, called Union Passage and into Cheap Street. It is the very passage that Catherine Moreland walked through with Miss Thorpe and suddenly sees a carriage with her brother and coincidently Miss Thorpe’s brother too, the awful John Thorpe. It is their first fateful meeting.

George Street outside Edgar Buildings

We walked on up Milson Street to George Street where Edgar Buildings are situated. Edgar Buildings are where the Thorpes stayed.

25 Gay Street

From George Street we went into Gay Street and walked past number 25 where the Austens stayed for a while.

At the top of Gay Street is the magnificent, The Circus. This is a circle of the most magnificent Georgian Houses. There is a small green park in the centre of the circle in which grow four gigantic London Plains trees. They must be four or five hundred years old. Jane knew them. The portrait artist Gainsborough lived in one of these houses in The Circus for a while. Bath would have provided many opportunities to gain commissions and make money.

The Royal Crescent

From The Circus we turned down Brock Street and arrived at The Crescent at the top of the hill.

A front door at the Royal Crescent

This was the place where the elite lived. These were the largest and most expensive houses. Lords, Dukes and the very wealthy lived up here. It was also a good place to walk to get fresh air.

The back of the Crescent, each house is different
Jane mentions in her letters taking walks up to The Crescent and walking in the park and enjoying the views. Catherine Morland and Anne Elliot also walked there. There is a very good reason why Jane and her characters might want to walk here, the fresh air. If you look back over Bath you can see the beautiful city with its creamy yellow stonework In Jane’s time it would have been black. You will also notice the myriads of chimneys, which no longer spout black sooty smoke from thousands of coal fires. Coal is no longer burnt. We have clean air towns and cities nowadays. In Jane’s time the air was far from clean and the beautiful Cotswold stone became black. You can see today a building or two that have not had their surface cleaned since the clean air act was passed through parliament.

The Assembly Rooms

The Assembly Rooms, just north of The Circus, are what Jane and her characters knew as The Upper Assembly Rooms and also included the Octagon tearoom. This is where Catherine Morland met with the Thorpes.

The Lower Assembly Rooms, the original assembly rooms in Bath, where Beau Nash officiated , were situated near the abbey. They no longer exist. It was in the Lower Assembly Rooms that Catherine met Henry Tilney for the first time and fell in love.
Just to conclude, a couple of stories about Bath.

Sheridan eloped with Elizabeth from this house

In the Crescent , about half way round, is a house with plaque that relates a very dramatic story. In 1755 Richard Brinsley Sheridan, who was a great playwright in the 18th century and wrote The Rivals and School for Scandal and who was also the owner of the Covent Garden Theatre, absconded with a young lady from the house. Her father chased them all over Europe. When they were found the father made Sheridan marry his daughter. However soon after Richard Brinsley left her in the lurch. The chase was the thing. The excitement of the chase had gone. What a cad and bounder!!!!!

Tony at Pultney Bridge

Now, a story about myself. As we walked up Gay Street towards The Circus we obviously stopped outside number 25 to look at it and photograph ourselves outside. An irate and very upset looking lady marched out of the front door next to number 25 with a bowl full of water and threw it all over my legs. I must add this does not normally happen to me. The circumstances were, that some juvenile idiot had drawn rude graffiti over the side of her white van parked outside. She was trying to clean the words off. She was obviously upset and came out to wash the side of her vehicle. Unfortunately for me, she missed. She was SO sorry. Luckily it was a warm day and my trousers dried quickly in the walk up the hill.

The Royal Crescent (top) and the Circus (Bottom with trees at center.)

One fact before I finish. Did you know that the houses in The Crescent and in The Circus are all different? They all look the same because they are the same on the outside. The builder built the fronts and sold just the fronts. The new owners had to build their own backs to their houses. Hence, if you go round behind the houses in The Crescent they all look different.

Posted by Tony Grant, London Calling

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This link to the BBC site will lead you to a video of a walk with Amanda Parr through Bath. You will need a Real Player.

Other posts about Bath on this site:

The Comforts of Bath: Thomas Rowlandson

The Viscount and the Toll Keeper’s Daughter: How Thomas Thynne Never Became the Marquess of  Bath

Saving Georgian Bath

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