Buy­ing a slice of his­tory

Two Grade II-listed houses in Bath give a unique in­sight into the city’s past

Somerset Life - - HOMES & INTERIORS -

It’s fairly easy to build up a pic­ture of life at 18 Rus­sell Street in the 18th and early 19th cen­turies, thanks to its ar­chi­tec­ture and pe­riod de­tails.

The house is sit­u­ated op­po­site the Assem­bly Rooms, in Geor­gian times a cen­tre for balls and so­cial gath­er­ings, and its own­ers, no doubt a wealthy Geor­gian fam­ily with 8-12 ser­vants, would have been used to en­ter­tain­ing. The two prin­ci­pal rooms on the ground and first floors would have been used for gath­er­ings, with the large kitchen be­low sup­port­ing these events. The draw­ing rooms and with­draw­ing rooms on the first floor would have been where the Geor­gian elite were en­ter­tained. The land­ings are no­tice­ably large, this was to al­low for sedan chairs to be turned around with rel­a­tive ease.

Two of the main rooms have or­nate plas­ter ceil­ings, uniquely hand-made rather than moulded.

There are ‘speak­ing tubes’ which con­nect the two floors.

If a plug was re­moved from the one inch-wide hole, the lady of the house could get the ser­vants’ at­ten­tion by blow­ing through the pipe which made a whistling sound. The de­vice be­came known as ‘the blower’ and (the name gives it away) was an early form of tele­phone. The house also still has some of the net­work of wires and one re­main­ing bell which were used for com­mu­ni­ca­tion through­out the house in later Vic­to­rian times.

The kitchen would have orig­i­nally been on the lower ground floor, which still has its Geor­gian dresser. The old ranges have gone, but there’s a gap cut in the man­tel­piece which would have housed the ‘turn­spit dog wheel’. Dogs were used to run in a wheel (rather like a mod­ern ham­ster wheel) which was linked up to a mech­a­nism to turn meat over the range. There’s an orig­i­nal dog wheel along the road at the No 1 Royal Cres­cent mu­seum. One item still in ev­i­dence at 18 Rus­sell Street is an orig­i­nal Geor­gian sauce maker, one of only three re­main­ing in the coun­try.

Other his­toric fea­tures in­clude gas light fit­tings from the later part of the 19th cen­tury and a ‘snuffer’ on the wall just out­side the front door. It was used by the Link Boys who would be paid a small fee to carry flam­ing

18 Rus­sell Street, Bath, in the heart of the city

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.