Royal Crescent is one of the iconic landmarks of Bath. It was built between 1767 and 1774, and the front facade is much as it was when it was first built.
No.1 Royal Crescent is the house on the right hand end of the crescent as viewed from the front, and is now a museum.
Most of the houses in the crescent have narrow fronts and extend backwards a long way. No. 1 has its front door on the end of the row, and is wider than it is deep. There are some servant’s rooms in the attic, and some service rooms in the basement, but most of the service buildings are to the right of the main house.
The service buildings are now taken up by the ticket desk, gift shop and audio-visual room, with exhibition rooms on the first floor. However much of the main building is furnished as it might have been in the 1770s to 1790s. There is a good video on this page of the museum’s website, although it is a rather dizzying fly-through!
On the ground floor, we were first shown into the breakfast parlour. This room had a large bookcase with dropdown desk in addition to the table laid out with toast, ham and the makings of tea. Note the chamber pot in the cupboard in the wainscotting behind the table.
Beyond that was a small study, where the menfolk could retreat to examine their collections of fossils, or use the telescope. Across the hall was the formal dining room – a much grander affair. The table is set for dinner, with dessert ready on a sideboard.
Upstairs, one room was laid out as a lady’s bedroom, complete with dressing table, and a gown and underwear laid out on the bed.
Next to that was another parlour – this one much more richly decorated, with afternoon tea waiting and, when we were there, a volunteer playing on the harpsicord!
On the second floor, one room was set out as a gentleman’s bedroom. This had much darker furnishings, and no frills.
The last part of the tour was right down at the bottom of the house, in the cellars and kitchens, but I am going to do a separate post on servants’ quarters and service rooms. The differences in the staircases was interesting, though. The bottom two photos below were taken using the same camera in a similar position for each staricase, looking down through the middle. The servants’ stairs feel little different to the stairs in a modern house, and are not as steep as some I’ve come across in stately homes. However the staircase used by the owners, as well as being carpeted and having decorated walls and fancier bannisters, has wider and shallower steps – the whole staircase taking up much more space in the house.
I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, particlularly the way the house almost looked lived in. The ticket will get you in again any time in the following year, so even better value if you can visit again. No. 1 Royal Crescent is run by the Bath Preservation Trust (a charity), which also runs the Museum of Architecture and the Herschel Museum of Astronomy. Both of those are on my list for future visits!