070630. 11/46, Thirty-six Views of Bath Abbey. My tribute to Hokusai’s Fugaku Sanju Rokkei

June 30, 2007 at 12:41 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bath Abbey, Cathedrals and churches, Chisel Marks, Food, Fugaku Sanju Rokkei, Hokusai, Peephole Views, somerset | 4 Comments

See the series so far!

07017.44.SO.Bath
FHH139_c
Hokusai’s Tokaido Yoshida

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070629.Bath, Grotto, Grottos, Everywhere…

June 29, 2007 at 1:45 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Chisel Marks, Gardens & Parks, Monuments and Memorials, river, River Avon, Ruins, somerset | 5 Comments

Delia’s Grotto, Bath: [1. Elizabeth A. Linley, 2. Richard B. Sheridan, 3. The Grotto for Scandal, 4. History of Delia’s Grotto 5. Design and Brief Context]
Grotto2
Delia’s Grotto seems to be designed around the proportions of a contained separate bench, which fits two comfortably. At a human level, it offers minimal protection from the elements, with a depth that barely protects the legs of sitters from a straight downpour. The grotto’s riverside façade is composed with vermiculated rusticated blocks, executed in the finest quality. The arch spanning the façade is rusticated in this style but launched from protruding untextured ashlars. The protruding dropped keystone is also not rusticated but connects to the top of the pediment. Lacking a cornice, the molded pediment rests on ashlar blocks and is surmounted by a statueless Paladian pedestal, which is aligned with the keystone and resembles a chimney.

[Below: Stowe’s Grotto before and after alteration that transformed it from a formal folly into a more naturalistic ruin…]
Copy (2) of Grotto Stowe
Copy of Grotto at Stowe1
In the American state that lays claim to the world’s smallest church, the Iowan town of West Bend features the world’s largest grotto. This not only continues a nineteenth-century religious-themed tradition of Marian grottos but also demonstrates the folly legacy of such structures. Although many famed grottos are naturally formed caves, the grotto as an architectural folly, though shown in numerous guises throughout England and the continent, shares two common characteristics: intimacy and rustication. The rustication may be created either with whimsical classical architectural ruin details or sometimes with simple facades of natural stone.

070104.25.Somset.BathCopy of details

All grottos are exposed to the elements, and many feature water in their design. The grotto in the Boboli Gardens, Florence, which was begun by Vasari and completed by Ammanati and Buontalenti between 1583 and 1593, features an apse of natural volcanic rock enclosing a fountain and water-themed statuary. Stourhead’s deliberately dark and dank cavernous space features Neptune presiding over a pool and a nymph reclining over a cascade [immediately above]. The originally symmetrical Dido’s Cave (built in the 1730s and renamed in the 1800s as the Marchioness of Buckingham’s Seat) at Stowe had its original façade removed in the 1800s and its structure transformed into a ruin by being partially buried under rubble and clad in tufa stones bolted on over the original 1730s classical details with metal clasps.[1]
Copy of 070104.22.Somset.Bath
The vermiculated rustication on Delia’s Grotto is of the finest nature [pictured above], being of a much higher quality in Bath then at Baldwin’s Guildhall or Baldwin and Palmer’s Pump Room ground stories, and also Wood’s hidden rustication behind the Hospital of St. John’s doorway. Such a high quality of rusticated treatment indicates the classical garden building’s ruined state within nature. Similarly the unusual protruding dropped keystone evokes the image of a time–worn, loosened arch.

Below: Protruding dropped keystones in descending formality of Delia’s Grotto, Stowe’s Temple of Friendship, Stowe’s Dido’s Cave, and Stowe’s Grotto
Delia's Grotto Keystone
detailsDido's Cave keystoneGrotto at Stowe keystone
These architectural peculiarities and higher degree of quality in particular areas fits well into the genre of folly architecture, which “with their whimsical pertinence and contemporaneously fashionable design were often constructed in avant-garde styles.” Often times these structures were the architectural innovations of their day since their modest size, cost, and design effort favored novelty.[2] The low cost of garden buildings lent themselves to experimentation since “new styles could never attract the same financial commitment as buildings in an established taste.” The after effects of low budget and experimental designs often meant that few of the successful designs survived. Great variety exists in all forms of garden buildings, in part because flops could be “easily demolished with little financial loss,” and new construction could commence with an enlightened design. [3]


Cited Above:

[1] Stowe: A Description of the Magnificent House and Garden, etc. (Buckingham: B. Seeley, 1783), 17. See also James Elliott, Visit to Stowe Landscape Garden, Information Packet (MSc), (Bath: University of Bath, 2003), 9.
[2] Alistair Rowan, Garden Buildings (Feltham, Middlesex: Country Life Books, The Hamlyn House Group, 1968), 2, 3, 11.
[3] Ibid, 11.
[Apart from original condition of Dido’s Cave, all drawings in this post were by the author…(me).]

070628.Bath, History of Delia’s Grotto, c. 1734

June 28, 2007 at 1:56 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Chisel Marks, Light and Shadow, Monuments and Memorials, river, River Avon, Ruins, somerset | 5 Comments

Delia’s Grotto, Bath: [1. Elizabeth A. Linley, 2. Richard B. Sheridan, 3. The Grotto for Scandal, 4. History of Delia’s Grotto 5. Design and Brief Context]
Copy of 070104.07.Somset.Bath
Although it is in back of John Wood the Elder’s well ordered 1740s North Parade houses, the grotto looks older. Scenic in nature, its alignment is to the path that runs along the river and under the North Parade Bridge (begun 1836) suggests it was not built in tandem with the North Parade houses, nor was it meant to be so completely overshadowed by the taller houses or the much more imposing and nearby bridge. Like finding modern alignments that correspond to ancient Roman roads, such as the south side of the Abbey, the path along the Avon was part of an early eighteenth-century development called Harrison’s Walk. Originally constructed in the early 1700s as a gravel extension northeast of the now demolished Lower Assembly rooms, the path connected to the Parade Gardens, constructed at the level of the site’s seventeenth-century orchard. As such, the Grotto may have been part of Harrison’s Walk as early as 1734. [1]

Delia’s or Sheridan’s Grotto was thought for a time “to have been built in the Spring Gardens, on the other side of the river.” The popular belief was almost certainly based upon the well-read biography of Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), in which author Thomas Moore (1779-1852) speculates the playwright’s famous verses about Elizabeth Linley to have been set in a Spring Gardens grotto, “then a fashionable place of resort.” [2] This assertion was widely copied down as fact.[3] However, the 1904 discovery of “Grotto and North Parade, 1772,” by Emanuel Green established that the grotto had always been on location at Harrison’s Walk and that it was the site of the Sheridan-Linley Affair, as affirmed by common tradition.
Grotto and N parade.1772
Green writes: “In the topographical collections in the Bodleian Library at Oxford there came up a drawing entitled —A north-west view of Bath—dated 1773, and here reproduced (pictured above). Made actually at the Sheridan time it shows the elevated North parade, ‘one of those noblest walks in Europe,’ with its abrupt ending and the river passing beneath, and shows also exactly for the present purpose, the grotto, standing exactly where it stands to-day, exactly stone for stone, looking damp enough on Avon’s sedgy bank, surrounded and almost covered by foliage, and secluded enough to suit any pair of clandestine lovers. In other drawings from a different point of view trees large and small are shown here on the river bank which appears as a public spot, not as attached to any house. The arboreal surrounding and the possible seclusion have now disappeared, but,—the bridge being removed from the mind’s eye,—the early scene can be at once plainly realised and the conclusion stands out clear, that our tradition is confirmed, and that we have still here with us the veritable original Sheridan grotto.” [4]

The copy provided by Green of this drawing titled “Grotto and North Parade, 1772,” is reported by him to have been dated a year after.[5] The date inconsistency is not a typed error since it was transmitted and reported on by the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society.[6] Green’s own published copy of his lecture notes, presented to the Bath Central Library, has several corrections in his handwriting to the text but leaves the dates untouched. The most likely cause for the date to be changed in the title of the drawing reflects on Green’s own romanticism in more readily connecting the grotto to the single year Sheridan was connected to it. Nevertheless, it is a fine drawing, featuring the Parades as viewed from the north from the Recreation Grounds across the Avon and focuses on a beached small sailboat being pulled by four visible men. Needless-to-say, the view is impossible today due to the North Parade Bridge. And it is worth mentioning that the picturesquely overgrown landscape depicted in the 1770s drawing of the grotto and path matches the scene engraved by W. Watts in “South Parade,” created and dated: London: March 1, 1794. (Pictured Below)
070104.43.Somset.Bath

In the 1730s, Harrison’s Walk was incorporated into Wood the Elder’s St. James’ Triangle and Parade housing block development.[8] The walk is visible in an engraving in that architect’s Essays Towards a Description of Bath (1749). Titled “A Plan of the New Buildings at the South East Corner of the City of Bath,” the engraving is centered on the Parades and incorporates the Walk into Wood’s design of St. James’ Triangle and also into his Parade developments, where the walk runs along the river toward his proposed Royal Forum.

Although the Royal Forum in the Ham district of Bath never came to fruition, the Parade houses were realized. Constructed near the end of the architect’s life, after he had succeeded with Queen’s Square and before he had begun the King’s Circus, the Parade buildings were quite fashionable and reflected the importance instilled in them by the city’s master architect. And where the North Parade and South Parade block between Pierepont and Duke Streets enclosed their own courtyard garden, the development east of Duke Street looked out into the River Avon with Harrison’s Walk in its backyard. Wood incorporated the Walk but did not include it in plan in his 1749 engraving. There is no indication of the grotto but this does not rule out its existence since Wood did not necessarily capture the exact site in plan. An ornamental folly could easily have been missed in plan but deliberately kept on site as an additional fashionable lure.

Wood’s construction came at the time when the garden’s popularity, based on the Assembly Rooms and alfresco entertainments, was ebbing. Social scenes for entertainment began migrating around 1735 to the Spring Gardens in Bathwick.[8] Later, John Wood the Younger’s Upper Assembly Rooms (1754-1758) transferred the social scene above to the New Town, closer to the fashionable housing of the Circus and Royal Crescent, from Simpson’s (now Lower) Assembly Rooms.[9]Copy of Delia's

The best-published illustration of this piece of garden architecture is “Delia’s Grotto, North Parade” in Walter Ison’s Georgian Buildings of Bath (1980). The perspective drawing showing the grotto featuring a more substantial bench and is surrounded by planting with a dead tree to its left and a young willow planted at its right side. Most importantly, however, the pavilion stands independent of any garden wall, which now occupies the space of both trees. This suggests that the wall was either added after Ison’s drawing was completed, or that Ison had access to an older image.


Cited Above:
[1] Michael Forsyth, Bath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 208.
[2] Thomas Moore, Memoirs of the Life of the Right Honourable Richard Brinsley Sheridan (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, 1825), 52.
[3] Emanuel Green, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Linley, Their Residences at Bath with a Notice of the Sheridan Grotto (Bath: Herald Office, North Gate, 1904), 21-23.
[4] Green, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Linley, 27-28, 26.
[5] Green, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Linley, 19.
[6] Somersetshire Archaeological & Natural History Society Proceedings of Bath & District Branch 1904-1908 (Bath: J.B. Keenr and Co., “Journal” and “Bladud” Works, 1909), 108.
[7] Michael Forsyth, Bath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 209.
[8] Walter Ison, The Georgian Buildings of Bath from 1700 to 1830 (Bath: Kingsmead
Press, 1980), 80.
[9] Ison, The Georgian Buildings of Bath, 25.

070627.Bath, The Grotto for Scandal!

June 27, 2007 at 1:14 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Chisel Marks, Gardens & Parks, Jane Austen, Light and Shadow, Monuments and Memorials, Overcast, people, river, River Avon, somerset | 5 Comments

Delia’s Grotto, Bath: [1. Elizabeth A. Linley, 2. Richard B. Sheridan, 3. The Grotto for Scandal, 4. History of Delia’s Grotto 5. Design and Brief Context]
Below: Delia’s Grotto, now encased in a garden wall in back of No. 14 North Parade in early and late January 2007, as it is being prepped for a restaurant serving Greek cuisine. The toilets are now gone…but where? [See previous two posts: Linley and Sheridan]

John Ede’s terse description: “At the river end is a grotto in the garden said to be associated with Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Miss Linley,” indicates that not just the structure but a rich history is hidden in that overgrown riverside garden. –John Ede, Special Walks (Bath: Department of Leisure and Tourist Services, Bath City Council, 1984), 19.
Delia's Grotto070129.03.Somset.Bath.NorthParade.Delia's Grotto

Secretly married but barred from seeing each other, both Richard B. Sheridan and Elizabeth A. Linley clandestinely met against their parent’s consent at Delia’s Grotto, on the banks of the Avon, along the old Harrison’s Walk. After a particular grotto tryst [see this excellent historical illustration of archival merit] [ebbed] by Sheridan’s jealousy, he composed the now famous twelve verses:

1.
Uncouth is this moss cover’d grotto of stone,
And damp is the shade of this dew dripping tree;
Yet I this rude grotto with rapture will own;
And willow thy damps are refreshing to me.

2.
For this is the grotto where Delia reclin’d
As late I in secret her confidence sought;
And this is the tree kept her safe from the wind,
As blushing she heard the grave lesson I taught.

 

3.
Then tell me, thou grotto of moss cover’d stone,
And tell me thou willow, with leaves dripping dew,
Did Delia seem vex’d when Horatio was gone?
And did she confess her resentment to you?

 

4.
Methinks now each bough as you’re waving it, tries
To whisper a cause for the sorrow I feel;
To hint how she frown’d when I dared to advise,
And sigh’d when she saw that I did it with zeal.

 

5.
True, true, silly leaves, so she did, I allow;
She frown’d; but no rage in her looks did I see;
She frown’d but reflection had clouded her brow;
She sigh’d; but, perhaps, ‘twas in pity for me.

 

6.
Then wave thy leaves brisker, thou willow of woe;
I tell thee no rage in her looks could I see;
I cannot, I will not, believe it was so;
She was not, she could not be angry with me.

 

7.
For well did she know that my heart meant no wrong;
It sunk at the thought but of giving her pain;
But trusted its task to a faltering tongue,
Which err’d from the feelings it could not explain.

 

8.
Yet, oh! if indeed, I’ve offended the maid;
If Delia my humble monition refuse;
Sweet willow, the next time she visits thy shade,
Fan gently her bosom, and plead my excuse.

 

9.
And thou stony grot, in thy arch may’st preserve
Two lingering drops of the night fallen dew;
And just let them fall at her feet and they’ll serve
As tears of my sorrow intrusted to you.

 

10.
Or, lest they unheeded should fall at her feet,
Let them fall on her bosom of snow; and I swear
The next time I visit thy moss cover’d seat,
I’ll pay thee each drop with a genuine tear.

 

11.
So may’st thou, green willow, for ages thus toss
Thy branches so lank o’er the slow winding stream;
And though, stony grotto, retain all thy moss,
While yet there’s a poet to make thee his theme.

 

12.
Nay, more—may my Delia still give you her charms
Each ev’ning, and sometimes the whole ev’ning long;
Then, grotto, be proud to support her white arms,
Then, willow wave all thy green tops to her song.[2]

With a gothick atmosphere created by the “moss cover’d seat,” and a picturesque ideal fostered in Delia’s Grotto near the willow and “slow winding stream,” it is easy to suppose this location was selected for mere romantic settings alone. Selecting this grotto as the rendezvous site most likely came about from four facts. First, as stated above, the area’s social popularity for fashionable daylight strolls had ebbed since it was first laid out and then later incorporated into the North Parade. Additionally, there was a degree of privacy on the Walk since no development in the area ever fronted the river. [1] Conversely, the area was already popular with Sheridan, who frequented the Parade Coffee House at night, as seen yesterday’s post. Finally, the most compelling motivation for the selection of the grotto as a meeting point was that it was two streets away from Pierrepont Street. Here, Elizabeth had lived during her formative years from the age of ten until she moved at age seventeen to the Royal Crescent, where she was quickly wooed to elopement by Richard. Thus, the romantic grotto not only avoided the crowds, it was situated near a coffee house Richard frequented and in Elizabeth’s old neighborhood and emotional home.
BIRTHDAY! 034 copy
Above: Detail of altered ordnance survey map by the Bath Archeological Trust…Below: Current hidden location in the garden of No. 14 North Parade and in the shadow of the North Parade Bridge.
070104.10.Somset.Bath

The meetings did not last since Elizabeth’s father exiled her to Wells (his hometown), and Sheridan’s father sent him to Waltham Abbey in Essex. But the two were able to meet again when Elizabeth performed at Covent Garden. Slowly opposition to their union finally eroded with a second and official wedding on the 13 of April, 1773 in the Marylebone section of London. As was customary following the marriage, Elizabeth retired from the stage and Sheridan only allowed her to perform in small private gatherings. He gained fame and wealth quickly with his plays The Rivals (1775) and The School for Scandal (1777) and with his investment in the Drury Lane Theatre, which he purchased with Elizabeth’s father, who sold off his own Royal Crescent house. [3] In 1776, Sheridan took up politics as a Whig. He was elected MP for Stafford in 1780, became Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs in 1782 and Secretary to the Treasury in 1783. [4]
Through it all, Richard and Elizabeth remembered their courtship and on one occasion when Elizabeth was visiting her relations in Bath, Richard wrote to her poetically alluding to their grotto days:

“To Laura.
Near Avon’s ridgy bank there grows.
A willow of no vulgar size.
That tree first heard poor Sylvio’s woes.
And heard how bright were Laura’s eyes.”[5]

Elizabeth responded to her husband:

“To Sylvio.
Soft flowed the lay by Avon’s sedgy side.
While o’er its stream the drooping willow hung
Beneath whose shadow Sylvio fondly tried.
To check the opening roses as they sprung.”[6]

Nostalgic as this scene might be, the courtship turned out to be the happiest point in the couple’s lives due to Sheridan’s infidelity.[7] After Elizabeth died of tuberculosis at the age of 38, biographer Percy Fitzgerald suggested that Sheridan had copied his love letters to Elizabeth to woo his second wife (Perhaps he recycled his gifts as well). Regardless, Sheridan’s verses certainly were true to Delia’s Grotto, which today occasionally bears his name, and represents an aspect of its folly architecture that it was created to engender.
(Tomorrow, see the grotto!)


Cited Above:
[1] Michael Forsyth, Bath (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2003), 210.
[2] Emanuel Green, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Linley, Their Residences at Bath with a Notice of the Sheridan Grotto (Bath: Herald Office, North Gate, 1904), 20-21.
[3] William Lowndes, Royal Crescent in Bath: A Fragment of English Life (Bristol, The Redcliffe Press, 1981), 38.
[4] Cedric Price, ed., The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 27.
[5] Richard Brimsley Sheridan, “To Laura,” in Green, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Linley, 23.
[6] Elizabeth Ann Sheridan, “To Sylvio,” in Green, Richard Brinsley Sheridan and Thomas Linley, 23.
[7] Lowndes, Royal Crescent in Bath, 39.
[8] Price, ed., The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 27.

070626.Bath, Richard Brinsley Sheridan: Coffee, Duels, and Bills Payable

June 26, 2007 at 2:15 AM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, doorways, Ionic Order, Jane Austen, people, River Avon, somerset | 6 Comments

Delia’s Grotto, Bath: [1. Elizabeth A. Linley, 2. Richard B. Sheridan, 3. The Grotto for Scandal, 4. History of Delia’s Grotto 5. Design and Brief Context]
The Parade Coffee House opened in 1750 and is now Bridgewater House. (See next photo down for the view from the building looking toward Abbey Street, Pierrepont Street, and the North Parade Buildings, River Avon.)

070114.08.Somset.Bath.TerraceWalk.BridgewaterHouse


So when we last left Elizabeth Ann Linley (1754-1792), her short engagement to the elderly Mr. Long had ended and she was now the [negative] talk of the town. Depressed, she felt the whole city trapping her and she longed to escape to France, which is when she met the penniless Dublin-born Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), who had only two years before come to Bath with his father and older brother Charles, another one of her ardent suitors. He didn’t quite sweep her off her feet, but swept her in a waiting carriage and there used his time well while he escorted her to France. The couple left the Royal Crescent, Bath, under the cover of nightfall on 18 March 1772 to pass through London before arriving in Dunkirke. Later, she would write of the journey that she had not known him well before the carriage trip but found his concern for her welfare comforting as the two traveled to France, and there were secretly married in Calais. Elizabeth’s father, Thomas, tracked them down to Lille and escorted them both back to Bath. [1]

070114.09.Somset.Bath.TerraceWalk.View from BridgewaterHouse

RBSheridan.Hall Engraving from Joshua Reynolds Painting

[Right: Sheridan] Back in Bath, the Sheridan-Linley elopement was greeted with the wagging of “patrician tongues” and pleasure-seekers “gossiping their powdered heads off from mid-morning until late afternoon.” [2] The affair also angered one of Elizabeth’s former die-hard suitors, Captain Thomas Mathews, who placed an advertisement in the Bath Chronicle on the 9 April 1772 that stated “because S. [Sheridan] had run away and had made damaging insinuations against him, S. must be ‘posted’ a ‘L[iar] and treacherous s[coundrel].’” This type of public attack was unusual since these challenges were often just posted at Coffee Houses and not in the newspaper. [3]
The resulting altercation during their first duel with rapiers nearly cost Sheridan his life when the militarily-trained Capt. Matthews quickly disarmed the poet and made him beg for his life apologize. Matthews then spread the story to further humiliate Sheridan, which resulted in a second more clumsy duel, in both swords broke but the poet was seriously injured. [4]Capt. Thomas Matthews
[Left: Capt. Mathews] Responding at night in the Parade Coffee House after returning to Bath, Sheridan was probably addressing the printer of the Bath Chronicle when he wrote: “Mr. Mathews thought himself essentially injured by a young Lady to escape the snare of vice and dissimulation. He wrote several most abusive threats to Mr. S— then in France. He laboured with a cruel intensity, to vilify his character in England. He publickly posted him as a scoundrel and a Liar— Mr. S answered him from France (hurried and surprised) that he would never sleep in England ‘till he had thank’d him as he deserved.” Sheridan goes on to claim that he won the second duel and that Mathews has lied about everything. [5] Later in another letter written to Mathews’ second at the later duel, Sheridan rhetorically asks: “Did Mr. Mathews give me an apology as a point of generosity, on my desisting to demand it? –He affirms he did.” [6] Sheridan just didn’t quit.
Despite being the cause of disgrace to his family, Sheridan wrote to his father “I returned here [to Bath] on Friday evening. I am very snugly situated in Town…” And so once returned, the young couple found both their fathers’ forbidding them to see each other again. [7] Naturally, they ignored parental dissatisfaction and continued the tryst. This is evidenced in Sheridan’s bill for goods “Bought of William Evill, In the Market Place” between 20 November, 1771 and 9 September 1772 where his bachelor days’ most extravagant expense recorded at this particular shop was for “1 neat Toothpick Case.” However, between 10 of June, and 9 of September, 1772, after his secret marriage, return to Bath, and order to never see Elizabeth again, he purchases “1 neat Hair Locket,” “1 neat fancy Ring,” “1 neat Gilt Watch Key,” “1 pair neat Garment Buttons,” and other assorted costly items and services including “fitting a Picture in a Case.” Possibly fearful of a third duel, he ran to the shop on the 9th of September to purchase “2 neat German hollow Blades to Swords with Vellum Scabbards, neat Steel and Gold.” [8]
One can assume Richard bought these items because of his involvement with Elizabeth, and the two “were able to meet only clandestinely, and to exchange furtive letters and verses which were left for each other in a grotto on the banks of the Avon.” [9]
711128.Bill Sent to Mr Sheridan
Above: “Bought of William Evill,” courtesy of the Bath Central Library

__
Cited Above:
[1] William Lowndes, Royal Crescent in Bath: A Fragment of English Life (Bristol, The Redcliffe Press, 1981). 36-38
[2] Ibid, 34.
[3] Cedric Price, ed., The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 27.
[4] Lowndes, 38.
[5]Richard Brinsley Sheridan, “Letter to the Printer of the Bath Chronicle?” (May-Jun 1772) in C. Price, ed., The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 27.
[6] Richard Brinsley Sheridan, “Letter to Captain Knight” (Jul 1772) in C. Price, ed., The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 33.
[7] Richard Brinsley Sheridan, “Letter to Thomas Sheridan, Esq.” (May-Jun 1772) in C. Price, ed., The Letters of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, 1 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1966), 34.
[8] Bought of William Evill, In the Market Place, [Bill for] Mr. Sheridan (Bath: 20 Nov 1771-9 Sep 1772)
[9] Lowndes, 38.

070625.Bath, Elizabeth Ann Linley at Abbey St, Pierrepont St, and the Royal Crescent

June 25, 2007 at 3:59 PM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Bath Abbey, Cathedrals and churches, Jane Austen, Light and Shadow, people, somerset, Towers | 9 Comments

Delia’s Grotto, Bath: [1. Elizabeth A. Linley, 2. Richard B. Sheridan, 3. The Grotto for Scandal, 4. History of Delia’s Grotto 5. Design and Brief Context]
Here is the Abbey Yard with its large central tree. The street to the left is Abbey Street (with the Roman Baths in the background) and the street to the right is Church St (obviously with the Abbey behind.)
070114.11.Somset.Bath.Abbey Green

Scandal in Bath! Part One: Elizabeth Ann Linley (1754-1792)

Among Bath’s most prestigious artistic families, the Linleys remain difficult to rival. Father Thomas “was a musical entrepreneur who arranged concerts in Bath, gave singing lessons, and played the harpsichord expertly. His eldest two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary were singers of considerable ability….” Even his son, also named Thomas, was extraordinarily gifted in music. As a talented violinist, young Thomas “visited Italy as a child prodigy in 1770, won the friendship and approbation of Mozart, and died tragically in a boating accident at the age of twenty-two.” [1]

As all Jane Austen-philes will know, addresses translate into social status in Bath. Although father Thomas was originally from Wells, the family had long lived in fashionable Bath, which had enough sophisticated visitors to appreciate and propel the careers of family members. They originally lived on Abbey Street before moving in 1764 to Pierrepont Street, and finally moving in the autumn of 1771 to the Royal Crescent, which was conveniently near the Upper Assembly Rooms, where Elizabeth and Mary sang to rapt audiences and where their father organized concerts. [1] Each relocation to a new and better address reflected the family’s increasing prosperity and social status.

Elizabeth LinleyAfter the death of young Thomas, Elizabeth with her divine voice was the brightest star of the family. The organist at Exeter Cathedral wrote that “[h]er voice was conventionally sweet, and her scale just and perfect, from the lowest to the highest note the tone was of same quality… Her genius and senses gave a consequence to her performance which no fool with the voice of an angel could ever attain.” Likewise, her beauty was renowned, and testified to in paint by Gainsborough. Reynolds used her for his painting of St. Cecilia, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy. Her qualities attracted royal attention when she performed at Drury Lane, George III “gazed at her with more than a paternal interest.” The close royal confidant, son of first prime minister, and cultivator of the Gothick style Hon. Horace Walpole, who was certainly unconcerned for himself, told a friend that “Miss Linley’s beauty is in the superlative degree, …the king admires her, and ogles her as much as he dares to do in so holy a place as an oratorio.” [2] Of course, the king was married and too old for the teenage Elizabeth but this did not deter her vast army of suitors.

Capitalizing on his daughter’s popularity, her father quickly arranged a marriage between her to a Mr. Walter Long, who apparently was a very rich and very elderly gentleman, but not much else. Perhaps sensing the game was up, the age difference, his own mortality, her disinterest (and possible interest elsewhere), Mr. Long withdrew from the engagement a few months later but compensated her with 1000 pounds worth of jewelry and 3000 pounds sterling. Gossip about a possible scandal began, which eventually spawned Samuel Foote’s play The Maid of Bath, playfully satirizing her failed engagement and emotional problems. [3]

Subsequently, Elizabeth became very depressed…but who would come to lift her spirits…and herself out of the country? Find out tomorrow!


[1] William Lowndes, Royal Crescent in Bath: A Fragment of English Life (Bristol, The Redcliffe Press, 1981), 35.
[2] Ibid, 36.
[3] Ibid, 37.

070624.Walcot, Georgian Garden of No. 4 King’s Circus

June 24, 2007 at 2:23 PM | Posted in Architecture, Bath, Chisel Marks, Conservation, Flowers, Gardens & Parks, Light and Shadow, Restoration, somerset, University of Bath, Walcot | 9 Comments

Was going to go down and take picture of the mayoral procession to St John’s Hospital today but because it was raining too hard, I only got halfway down the hill before deciding the rain might not be good for my camera. (I don’t have an umbrella.) So here’s a historic gardens and landscape post to christen the University of Bath’s new MSc in the Conservation of Historic Gardens and Landscape programme. I’ve retyped almost all the plaques to cut down on photos and I’ve included this rare image of a soil leveler.
070610.14.SO.Bath.Walcot.BrockSt.d.J.WoodII.1767-1770.GeorgianGrdn

Plaque I:

“In 1985 work began on recreating a Georgian-style garden. The existing garden was mainly Victorian, with a lawn and rockery, although a classical pavilion and a fish pond had been added in the 1920s.
070610.11.SO.Bath.Walcot.BrockSt.d.J.WoodII.1767-1770.GeorgianGrdn
No. 4 Circus was completed by autumn 1761. No illustrations or written descriptions of the original garden survive but excavations by Bath Archeological Trust, the first to be undertaken in an English town garden, revealed three garden plans pre-dating the 1920s alterations.

“There was no grass at all in the first garden here. Most of it was converted with gravel mixed with clay. Three flower beds were placed on the central axis with a large, round-ended bed across the bottom. The garden was self-contained, designed to be seen purely from the house.

“Around 1770 the paved paths were extended across the ends of the bottom bed to provide access, via a flight of steps, to the Gravel Walk, which linked the newly built Royal Crescent with Queen Square.070610.17.SO.Bath.Walcot.BrockSt.d.J.WoodII.1767-1770.GeorgianGrdn

“In 1836 a basement area was added to the back of the house and the surplus soil was spread over the garden. Above this protective clay layer, generally 18” thick, a new garden was created. For the next 150 years the garden saw little change until archaeologists removed the clay in 1986, and revealed the 18th century garden plan. The basement area was filled in and the garden restored to its layout of c. 1770.”

Plaque III:

“The archaeological excavations of 1985-6 revealed the design of the 18th century garden beneath soil spread over the area during work to the basement of the house in the 9th century. The original paths and beds were located but it was not possible to identify the species or location of the plants/ The garden has been reconstructed according to the plan of c. 1770 after alterations had been made to include the steps to Gravel Walk.

“The planting is based on a plan and list of plants prepared by Dr. John Harvey of The Garden History Society. It attempts to recreated the mood of a small town garden of the period as known from documentary sources. The trellis screen and honeysuckle pole are located in positions identified as post holes during the excavations although they are modern reconstruction. The seat is an exact copy of an 18th century original.
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“Grass lawns were not easily maintained prior to the invention of mechanical lawn mower in 1832. Rolled gravel or ‘hoggin’ was used here instead. The borders are edged in Dwarfed Box, which together with the clipped topiary of Box, Yew and Holly reflect the lingering formality of earlier garden style. In the late 18th century the plants themselves were the main interest, not as today for their mass effect, but as individual botanic curiosities, often recently introduced by travelers to the New World and Indo-China. Fragrant flowers were favoured, double flowers preferred to single forms and variegated foliage was a novelty. The walls too were used to train fruit trees and climbing plants.

“The size of this garden had prevent the use of any large trees but there are small trees, shrubs, roses, hardy perennials and bulbs, with annuals planted in the central beds each Spring. All the plants used are known to have been available in the 18th century.

“The garden was completed in 1990 and is maintained by Bath Museums Service.

“Excavation of the garden was by Bath Archaeological Trust. We gratefully acknowledge the kind assistance of Bath Preservation Trust, Avon Gardens Trust, The Garden History Society and Dr. John Harvey, and the financial support of The Charles Robertson Trust, Mayor’s Honorary Guides and Bath City Council (Conservation Section)”

Contact: 

Tel: +44(0)1225 477752 Fax: +44(0)1225 444793

Georgian Garden Links: 

Georgian Gardens in Context, Garden Guides, “A Georgian Garden Reborn”by Yvonne Cuthbertson, Georgian Gardens by David C. Stewart,

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