Friday 5 June 2020

Inside No. 1, the Crescent in Bath

Another post about our visit to Bath, all those months ago...

Inside No. 1, The Royal Crescent in Bath

No. 1 Royal Crescent is a museum which has been decorated and furnished just as it might have been during the period 1776-1796, the time when Bath was the most fashionable city to visit in the UK. The rooms feature historic furniture, pictures and objects that reveal what life was like for Bath's fashionable residents - both upstairs and downstairs.

In reception we saw two models of the house 

We moved on, inside the house

The Parlour is on the ground floor.  This was the family room, a comfortable space used for everyday activities. Breakfast was an informal meal often taken in the Parlour on an elegant breakfast table which could then be folded away.

The Gentleman's Retreat was a sanctuary where a cultured Georgian might indulge his interests in science, inventions and the natural world. This room is furnished to reflect many of the original owner's own occupations and pursuits.

The desk globe reflects the world's rapidly expanding horizons in an age that witnessed the voyages of Captain Cook.

The treasures in the display cabinets typify the 18th century obsession with recording knowledge through collecting.

An electrical machine

The dining room was a formal, masculine chamber used for entertaining guests. Sober in style, it was a symbol of the host's status.

Desert was the high point of an elaborate Georgian dinner with expensive confectionery, displayed here on a Chamberlain Worcester dessert service.

The English leather folding screen concealed a chamber pot - Georgian gentlemen did not leave the room to relieve themselves.

In the Hall

stands this cabinet of curiosities

In the 18th century, there was great interest in collecting natural history specimens and curiosities relating to cultures across the world.

The stairs lead to the first floor

The withdrawing room was the height of fashion and taste. In this elegant, light and feminine room the ladies took tea after withdrawing from dinner.

This single manual harpsichord was made in 1770 by the great harpsichord-maker Jacob Kirkman of Alsace.

the window affords a good view of the Crescent

Tea was expensive and the hostess locked the tea caddy to keep contents safe from servants.

The Lady's Bedroom  was her inner sanctum. She slept here and with the help of her maid she undertook her toilette, an elaborate ritual involving dressing, styling hair and applying makeup. She even received visitors, who came to keep her company while she was at her morning levee or rising.

A very feminine room, and the only one where she had any control over the decoration - the rest of the house was considered as his, and he was in charge of the decoration

A wig scratcher provided relief from headlice. This was the unpleasant reality behind the glamour.

Up the next flight of stairs

and we arrived at 

the Gentleman's Bedroom, which provided him with privacy for rest and recuperation. It is hamdsonely furnished for comfort with pieces by George Hepplewhite, one of the most fashionable furniture-makers of the day.

View of the Crescent from the window

Next, down this narrow staircase, the servants' stairs

a glimpse into the Housekeeper's Room

The Servants' Hall where the lower servants gathered to eat together. Georgian servants toiled hard and rarely had a life of their own outside their place of employment.

Plain pewter plates contrasted with the fashionable tableware displayed above stairs.

The Rules.

A play area for children

The dog wheel was an effective but cruel method of turning a cooking spit in an era when the welfare of animals was rarely considered

We were able to get a better look at the Housekeeper's Room. Usually a woman of mature years, the housekeeper was a valued and skilled professional. Her status as the most important female servant meant she had her own room for comfort and privacy. Here she organised the household and paid the bills. Other servants rarely entered. Furnishings were plain and less fashionable than above stairs, but they still provided a degree of gentility.

Adjacent to her room was the Store Cupboards which contained dried goods such as rice, flour and semolina, as well as household goods like candles.

The Courtyard, or Area, was a working part of the house. The tradesmen's staircase provided access for the delivery of all kinds of goods. Not every Bath house had space for separate external stairs, many had a lifting gate or winch and goods were lowered in a basket. Sometimes tradesmen even sold their wares at the front door.

The Kitchen Passage was a bustling crossover between the main house and the service quarters. Food carried along here from the kitchens rarely arrived hot on the table in the dining room. Bath town houses used all the available space below ground. This often meant damp and unsanitary conditions for the servants who worked down here.

The kitchen. An 18th century town house kitchen was cramped, hot and poorly lit compared to a spacious country house kitchen. It was hard to regulate the heat when cooking on open ranges, but skilled cooks could still produce everything from roasts to stews, sauces to syllabubs.

The Scullery  was a  multi-functional area - space in a town house was limited. It provided facilities for household cleaning and for washing, which was always kept separate from the kitchen.

Clean linen symbolised moral integrity and laundry was an endless task in a Georgian household.

Finally, the Coal Hole allowed coal to be delivered directly from the street.

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