They say that first impressions count, and when it comes to winning hearts at first sight, the beautiful city of Bath has a long history of charming visitors with its attractive architecture and Georgian buildings. Not only are there spectacular historical sites of interest such as the famous Roman Baths, the magnificent Abbey and the neoclassical grandeur of Pulteney Bridge to admire, but the very stones that make up the city have a distinctive golden glow that gives the urban landscape a look that is unmistakably ‘Bath’.
Some of the most popular architectural sights in Bath include the sweeping crescents of impressive terraced housing that are dotted around the city. These crescents offer a fascinating glimpse into the past, back to a time when Bath became a fashionable retreat for the upper echelons of 18th century society. Here are a few of our favourites to track down on your next trip into the city:
One of the most iconic landmarks in Bath, the Royal Crescent has to come top of the list. Constructed between 1767 and 1775 by the talented architect John Wood the Younger, this perfect half-moon consists of 30 Grade I listed houses overlooking Victoria Park. It offers one of the best preserved examples of Georgian architecture that you will find in the UK. Drop into No. 1 Royal Crescent to see a museum exhibition showcasing the interior of a classic Georgian home.
Lansdown Crescent stands out from the crowd due to the sensational views it offers from its elevated position over the city. Designed by John Palmer, this crescent is made up of 20 houses and was constructed between 1789 and 1793. The main crescent is sandwiched between the smaller crescents of Lansdown Place East and Lansdown Place West, offering an idyllic scene straight out of the Georgian era, particularly when teamed with the sweep of green space situated in front of the houses where you may well encounter grazing sheep.
One of the most picturesque communities you will find in Bath, the homes that make up Camden Crescent witness plenty of locals going about their day-to-day business instead of the tourist buses that frequent the Royal Crescent. Numbers 6 to 21 have been declared Grade I listed buildings and the destination boasts a literary heritage – the Elliot family from Jane Austen’s novel ‘Persuasion’ rented lodgings on Camden Place, the name the crescent was formerly known as.
The charming district of Widcombe is one of the most coveted residential areas of Bath, offering a unique village ambience with independent shops and quirky places to eat and drink whilst enjoying a truly excellent location right in the centre of Bath behind Bath Spa train station. Widcombe Crescent is like the younger sibling to the larger crescents of the city as it is made up of only 14 Georgian houses and enjoys a secluded, tucked away location, deep in the heart of Widcombe. Built by Thomas Baldwin in 1808, these attractive three-storey houses boast Mansard roofs which became extremely fashionable in 17th century France.
Another of Bath’s secret mini-crescents, Cavendish is one of the most exclusive residential districts in Bath. It was completed in 1830 by the architect John Pinch the Elder and is made up of only 11 houses with a decidedly simple façade compared to the glamour of some of the other crescents in Bath. However, the plain décor gives the crescent an unfussy and sophisticated appearance. This row of elegant buildings faces a neat patch of grass, complete with wooden benches to rest and relax on whilst admiring the scenery.
Caught somewhere between a crescent and a terrace, Somerset Place hit the headlines back in 2012 when the whole row was put on the market – reportedly the first time in 200 years that one of Bath’s crescents had been put up for sale in its entirety. The buildings had been redeveloped into nine town houses and 20 apartments as part of a £60 million restoration programme; previous to its redevelopment it was utilised by Bath Spa University as student accommodation. Originally designed by John Everyleigh, Somerset Place was built between 1790 and 1820.
7. The Circus
Although not strictly categorised a crescent, the Circus is one of the most impressive examples of Georgian architecture to be found in the city. The Circus comprises of three curved sections of townhouses, each a take on the Bath crescent in their own right, impeccably arranged so that whichever entrance a pedestrian might enter the arena from, they are guaranteed to be faced with a glorious, classical façade. Another excellent design from the architect John Wood the Elder, the Circus was based on the dimensions of Stonehenge as it is thought John Wood believed that Bath had been a chief centre of Druid activity in Britain.