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This programme explores - the rapid growth of the city of Bath as a tourist resort (1700-1770). In particular, it points out the influence of 3 individuals on different but related aspects of Bath'...s development. Beau Nash, established as the uncrowned King of Bath around 1705, created a rigid pattern of daily social life and certain social standards which all were expected to conform to. The social life centred on bathing and gambling, but although Nash did much to improve the facilities for these activities, Bath's private accommodation remained uninspiring, until the early 1720s. At that point a local self-made businessman - Ralph Allen - opened up a Bath stone quarry. His business acumen - combined with the ambitious schemes of a young architect - John Wood - resulted in a series of grand building projects, to improve the city's look and attract more visitors. Queen's Square, the North and South Parades and The King's Circus are the best examples of Wood's work (1720-55) and crucially all were related to the daily pattern of life established by Nash. After Wood's death, his son continued the grand style of building begun by his father and it was John Wood the Younger who built the classic Royal Crescent. The interior of No.1, Royal Crescent has been renovated and restored as a late 18th century lodging. The Crescent ushered in a new era of architectural development in Bath and the focus of the City's social life moved to the upper town. At the same time the Royal Crescent was also the supreme realisation of the Elder Wood's grand schemes - and so it stands as the crucial link between the lively rumbustious Bath life of Nash's era and the sedate dignified decaying city of Jane Austen's era.
Metadata describing this Open University video programme
Module code and title: A204, The Enlightenment
Item code: A204; 02
First transmission date: 06-03-1980
Published: 1980
Rights Statement:
Restrictions on use:
Duration: 00:24:35
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Producer: Tony Coe
Contributor: Colin Cunningham
Publisher: BBC Open University
Keyword(s): Architecture; Bath; Beau Nash; Jane Austen; John Wood; Ralph Allen
Footage description: Colin Cunningham introduces the programme by briefly describing the rapid growth of Bath in the 18th century. His point is illustrated by plans showing the extent of the city in 1783 and 1692. Over prints depicting the baths and aristocratic social gatherings, contemporary quotes describe the paucity of amenities in 18th century Bath. Film of pre-Georgian streets in Bath. Portrait of Beau Nash, whose development of social amenities in Bath is described by Cunniingham. From the baths he describes Nash's introduction of music to the Pump Room and of a room for bathing. A number of contemporary quotes describe bathing scenes over appropriate prints. The pump room routine is described over prints showing its original interior appearance. Fim of Cunningham at the pump room, where the Pump Room Trio is seen playing music by William Boyce. Film of some early l8th century buildings built by Bath Corporation to improve the town's appearance. Cunningham describes Thomas Harrison's Assembly Rooms over a print of same. The extent of gambling in early Georgian Bath is described over relevant illustrations. An extract from Handel's Water Music is played over caricature of gentry dancing the minuet. Contemporary quotes are used to describe the strict routine at twice weekly balls held in the Assembly Room. Over a plan of l8th century Bath Cunningham explains that the town needed to expand. Over a portrait of Ralph Allen Cunningham describes the opening of the Bath stone quarry on Combe. Down. Film of present, day work in the quarry, particularly of stone-cutting. Allen's methods of transporting the stone are described. The advantages of the stone are described and a sculptor is seen working with it. Allen's house in Bath is shown to illustrate l8th century work with the stone. Portrait of John Wood, the architect. Wood's plans for transforming Bath into a large mock Roman city are shown and his description of the proposed city quoted over. Film of Queen's Square, over which Cunningham explains what was novel about Wood's erection of one facade for numerous houses. A plan shows Wood's development of SE Bath. Film of the South Parade area, from where Cunningham describes the problems Wood had to overcome in developing the area. Prints depict the gentry at leisure in Bath over which contemporary quotes describe various social activities. Prints of shops and coffee houses, which are then seen on film of modern Bath. Shots of Allen's house, Prior Park. Cunningham describes the house's literary associations. Views of Bath from the ground of the house over which an extract from Tom Jones which praises Prior Park is read. Numerous prints are shown which caricature the social matches and fortune-hunting that characterised 18th century Bath. Cunningham mentions a variety of literary characters who made or lost their fortunes at Bath. Shots of the Orchard St Theatre. Cunningham describes the pastime of having one's portrait painted. A plan of King's Circus is shown, then it is examined on film. In voiceover Cunningham comments on Wood's design, particularly of the facade. A contemporary attack on the novelty of King's Circus is read. Film of the Royal Crescent, built by the younger Wood. Cunningham describes the organisation of houses behind the Crescent's facade. Film of the interior of No. 1 Royal Crescent which has been restored to its original appearance. Cunningham indicates various artifacts and amusements present in the rooms. Music by Bach is played. The programme ends with further film of the exterior of Royal Crescent over which Cunningham briefly states its importance for Bath.
Production number: FOUA045S
Videofinder number: 2260
Available to public: no