Spa Towns in the 18th Century England

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 2739
  • Published : November 14, 2005
Open Document
Text Preview
One of the striking features of the 18th century England is the rapid growth of urban society – in both the metropolis and provincial towns.The eighteenth century was the century of hot springs cities, namely Epsom, Islington, Buxton and Cheltenham.Yet it cannot be denied that they were not as famous as the city of Bath. Bath is the most representative city to depict the striking urban and social development of hot springs in England at that time. As a matter of fact, we must remember the fact that from the early eighteenth century until the early nineteenth century, Bath developed from a small provincial spa to being the most fashionable place, outside of London. The spa was famed for its healing springs, but little else. From the visits of Queen Anne in 1702 and 1703 and throughout the Georgian period (the reigns of King George I, II, III and IV) Bath was the 'valley of pleasure' where fashionable society came for the season to take the waters, enjoy good society, shops and gambling.Yet at the end of the eighteenth century, Bath will fall from its pinnacle and will no longer be the rival of London. Thus we can wonder what can explain the tremendous growth of hot springs cities such as Bath and what lead to its decline .First of all ,we can account for the rise and fall of Bath by focusing on the extraordinary architectural and social revolution that transformed bath into a fashionable resort, attracting people of all kind. Then i will describe the seamy side of the city and its decay in the early nineteenth century.

Three figures are credited with making Georgian Bath into the place to visit. The Architect John Wood who planned and built the palatial streets, the entrepreneur Ralph Allen who provided much of the money and stone to build them with, and Richard 'Beau' Nash, the master of ceremonies who managed the balls in the buildings they built; including the Assembly Rooms and the Pump Room The massive expansion of the city in Georgian times was a response to the continuing demand for elegant accommodation for the city's fashionable visitors, for whom Bath had become a pleasure resort as well as a spa. During the 18th century Bath served as an extremely fashionable cultural hub attracting members of the middle and upper classes from all over the country. This provided the city with the finance and incentive to undertake large cultural developments. It was during this time that Bath's Theatre Royal was first built; as well as Georgian architectural triumphs (Georgian architecture is the name to the classic architectural styles current between about 1720 and 1840 , named after the four British monarchs ) including The Royal Crescent, The Circus by the builders John Wood.

This Georgian period was undoubtedly the most prestigious period of Bath's history. It was transformed from a market town with defensive walls to a fashionable metropolis, largely through the designs and plans of the son of a humble Bath builder, architect John Wood Snr, who followed the 16th Century Italian architect, Andrea Palladio. The onset of industrialisation across the country brought greater disposable income to certain sectors of society, and "leisure" became a popular way to spend it. Bath became the place to be seen in, with many eminent people choosing it as their primary residence.

With Ralph Allen, who provided a great deal of his personal fortune and the Master of Ceremonies, Richard Beau Nash, the organising mind behind Bath's social life and balls, they exerted their influence on the town's development. Something that was to have a greater impact on Bath society in general was Richard Nash's advocacy of greater social integration. By 1706 "Beau" Nash had become the city's Master of Ceremonies of Bath.He established a new code of conduct for more respectability in public places, which banned swearing and relaxed the unwritten rules of integration. He was so successful in levelling society that people could be found creating...
tracking img