Bath first became a resort town in Roman times, but its modern reincarnation dates from the eighteenth century. It was then that a succession of architects and entrepreneurs, most of them from the city itself, succeeded in creating one of the supreme achievements of European architecture and urban design, inspired by the memory of the Roman past but adapted to satisfy the taste and desires of the Georgian aristocracy and merchant classes.
The city owes much of its character to its riverside situation, within a bowl of limestone hills from which the honey-coloured stone of its eighteenth-century buildings was quarried. Several of the finest of these buildings will be visited - Queen Square, the Circus and the Royal Crescent; Great Pulteney Street with the recently-expanded Holburne Museum at its far end; the Pump Room and Assembly Rooms – and we will also explore some of the lesser-known but equally attractive corners of this most fascinating of cities.
Meet outside Bath Abbey at 1.15pm. Bath Abbey is one of the handful of great late-medieval religious buildings completed in the first thirty years of the 16th century. Visit the Abbey focusing particularly on its 18th-century monuments. No.1 Royal Crescent (interior), then the Circus and Assembly Rooms (interior: Ballroom, Card Room and Tea Room). Walk via Great Pulteney Street and Pulteney Bridge to the hotel.
Walk through Sydney Gardens, the only remaining 18th-century pleasure gardens in the country. Visit the Holburne Museum home to Sir William Holburne’s excellent 18th-century collection of fine and decorative arts. Continue to the Circus, glancing briefly at the restored garden of one of the houses here. Walk through Victoria Gardens to Queen Square then the Theatre Royal (exterior) and the Cross Bath (exterior) via Kingsmead Square. Finish at the Guildhall at c. 1.30pm. The rest of the day is free before the festival begins in the Assembly Rooms at 3.30pm.
Some appointments cannot be confirmed until early 2019.
Price, per person
Two sharing: £420. Single occupancy: £480.
Hotel accommodation; breakfast; 1 dinner with wine, water, coffee; all admissions; all tips; all taxes; the services of the lecturer and tour manager.
Macdonald Bath Spa: An attractive amalgam of Georgian, Victorian and modern buildings set in an expansive landscaped grounds with views across the city. The hotel is a picturesque 20-minute walk to the city centre through the grounds of the Holburne Museum. Bedrooms are spacious and recently renovated. Good restaurant, bar, lounges, air-conditioning, swimming pool, spa facilities. Single rooms are doubles for sole use.
Most of the tour is spent outside and on foot, both standing and walking. Unless you enjoy entirely unimpaired mobility, cope with everyday walking and stair-climbing without difficulty and are reliably sure-footed, this tour is not for you.
Between 10 and 22 participants.