Pétanque: Bath’s Incredi-boules Second Sport

Image credit: flickr.com/bathintime

Anyone trying to argue that rugby is not Bath’s sport of choice can expect to incur the wrath of a city proud of a heritage that will be 150 years old next year. However, within drop-kicking distance of The Rec, a second ‘sport’ grips the residents of Bath to such extents that its players can often be seen plying the gravelled playing areas until the dark hours of most summer evenings.

Rather less physical and more well-mannered than its oval-ball counterpart, pétanque has long since been established as a popular pastime for the Bathonian who would rather choose gin over gym. The game is enduringly sociable, affably competitive and is often played with an eye on closing time at the nearest hostelry. The only scrum is the knot of furrowed foreheads knitted together over a cluster of tightly grouped boules, desperately trying to fathom which sphere has crept closest to the tiny coche.

Across Bath, several gravel pistes host competitive matches throughout the summer. Serene Alexandra Park, on Bear Flat, is known as a luscious deep playing area with spectacular views over the city, whilst the sparse and unreliable surfaces within busy Queen Square often draw intrigued spectators, many of whom are foreign to the city and are captivated by this quintessentially French yet somehow very English game. A new floodlit terrain is currently being developed at Larkhall Sports Club, with the help of a £23,185 grant from Sport England. Such luxuries will be warmly welcomed by anyone who has ever relied on passing car headlights when completing a closely-fought game in the dark.

As well as summer-long leagues which often provoke Bath vs. Gloucester levels of rivalry and sportsmanship, a two day affair in the midst of summer has become a popular tradition and a raging success. Bath Boules is a non-profit event that raises money for local charities; it has become so popular with local boules teams and businesses that online registration for this year’s competition was open for just one hour before all of the places had been snapped up. Based in Queen Square, the games spill over onto the rugged footpaths and mossy arteries which sprawl around the bustling arena. Pleasingly sponsored by, amongst others, Champagne Jacquart, the weekend represents all that is brilliantly social, fun and slightly eccentric about the game.

As for Reside, we have a band of five fearless, if rather erratic, boules joueurs who compete in Bath’s Thursday League. We are also proud to be a sponsor of Bath Boules 2014, and look forward to being involved in this fantastic tradition for the first time this year.

Those wishing to investigate this genteel, good-natured and entertaining recreation can visit The City of Bath Pétanque Club’s website where more information can be found about how to join in.

If you happen to see our fleet of five pétanque pros gathered in Queen Square, trying to claw their way back from the brink of another defeat against one of the seasoned campaigners who we often find ourselves up against, please do pop by to watch and say hello. We also post weekly updates on our progress on Twitter because this is Bath’s second sport, after all.


Reside5 – The Empire Strikes Plaque

In Plaque To The Future, our first blog in this series looking at Bath’s array of historical plaques and the stories behind them, we focused on five of the city’s most distinguished former residents. In our second blog on this subject, we have carefully combed through the names which adorn our Georgian walls and looked into the lives of five lesser known characters.

Online research being what it is, we have decided to avoid one website which informed us that Jacob von Hogflume, inventor of time travel, dwelt on Milsom Street a mere three hundred years before his birth. Not only are the below plaques real, they also come with very interesting stories.

1. Sir James Brooke

1 Widcombe Crescent
Here lived Sir James Brooke, K.C.B. First Rajah of Sarawak b.1803 d. 1868

Although Brooke spent part of his youth in Bath, he built a significant reputation as far afield as Sarawak, a Malaysian state on the island of Borneo, where he was appointed Rajah by the Sultan of Brunei. In 1833, the 30 year old James Brooke splashed a £30,000 inheritance on a 142 tonne schooner which he promptly navigated to Borneo. Upon his arrival, he assisted in quelling the uprising against the Sultan, thereby winning his affections and, in 1841, he was granted the governorship of Sarawak – a title which he kept until his death in 1868.

The Brooke dynasty, known as the ‘White Rajahs’, continued to rule Sarawak until the Japanese invasion in 1941. Unlike other British occupancies during the same era, the Brookes endeavored to protect the indigenous population against exploitation, and by 1941 were working towards a new, more democratic constitution.

2. William Smith

29 Pulteney Street
In this house, William Smith, the father of English geology, dictated “The Order Of The Strata” December 11th 1799

During his lifetime, William Smith was the great unsung hero of British Geology. He has since been credited with creating the first nationwide geological map, as well as the first ever large scale map of the area around Bath, but was shunned by his contemporaries and the scientific community. It is thought that his humble education and upbringing prevented him from moving in particularly learned circles. As a result, his work was plagiarised and flogged at a fraction of the cost for which he was trying to sell it.

His famous map of Great Britain, for which he spent his unemployed years traveling the length and breadth of the country, did not receive the credit it deserved until 1831 when Smith was formally recognised by Geological Society of Great Britain. By this point, he had spent time in a debtor’s prison and his home had been seized by bailiffs.

3. James Quin

4 Pierrepont Street
Here lived James Quin b.1693 d.1766

James Quin was a celebrated thespian whose colourful antics makes the lives of today’s Hollywood stars seem particularly humdrum by comparison. At the age of 25, with a couple of high profile performances under his belt, the actor was convicted of manslaughter for killing another actor in a duel. The general public, however, viewed this as more of an accident than a tragedy, as the victim had provoked the standoff, rather than Quin. Not to be dissuaded by this experience, Quin had an almost identical episode later in his career when accosted by a younger actor who had taken offense at some sarcastic criticism from his elder fellow performer. When heated words turned to voilence, Quin drew his pistol and killed the man, with similarly forgiving legal consequences. Quin’s confidence in the face of danger even followed him into the theatre, where he once drew his weapon on a drunk who had taken to the stage and threatened the life of the venue’s manager.

Away from the threats of drunken punters and bitter actors, Quin enjoyed a remarkable career in the theatre, populating some of London’s best known stages with high profile Shakespearean interpretations, including a great working rivalry with David Garrick, whose attempted to lure Quin away from his theatrical home in Covent Garden. Instead of accepting the bait from one of theatre’s most influential names, Quin used the offer to elicit a salary of £1000 per year from his manager which, by my calculations, equates to a modern annual salary of about £85,000.

4. Frederic Weatherly

10 Edward Street
Here lived Fred E. Weatherly, K.C. Song writer 1919 to 1928 b. 1848 d.1929

Fred Weatherly was a barrister who, unlike others in this blog, remained rooted to the West Country for the majority of his life. Born and raised in Portishead, he later moved to Penn Lea Road in Weston, and then on to Edward Street in central Bath. As well as being a practising lawyer and an author of prose publications, Weatherly is undoubtedly best known as a lyricist having written words for more than 3,000 popular songs.

Whilst living in Bath, he wrote a song entitled ‘Danny Boy’ which, to his dismay, was did not meet with great success. Two years later, his Irish-born sister-in-law sent him an old traditional tune called ‘Londonderry Air’; Weatherly matched his lyrics to the tune and the following year gave the song to singer Elsie Griffin. It went on to become one of the most popular songs of the century. Other songs whose lyrics were penned by Weatherly include ‘Roses of Picardy’, one of the most memorable songs from World War I and ‘The Holy City’, a song that earned a mention in James Joyce’s Ulysses.

5. Beau Nash

Saw Street
Here lived Beau Nash M.C. 1743-1761

By far and away our favourite plaque to adorn Bath’s walls, is this aptly slinky gold and black number marking Bath’s dandy and glitzy Master of Ceremonies from 1704 until his death in 1761. Always elegantly, if outrageously, attired (hence the nickname ‘Beau’), Nash was responsible for arranging balls, dances and social gatherings, at which he would ensure that correct and proper conduct was adhered to. At the time, Bath’s natural spa waters and regular visits from royalty were provoking a steady influx of visitors to the city, something which Nash capitalised on to such an extent that Bath’s population grew from 2,000 to 30,000 in the space of just 100 years.

Nash is also credited with introducing a new code of conduct into Bath’s social circles which allowed for greater social integration. He banned swearing in public places, the wearing of swords and even prohibited ‘exhibitions of resentment from either gentlemen or ladies, on the grounds that someone had danced out of turn’. Nash was a great gambler, something which would be part of his making and also his downfall. Whilst the high-flyers flocking to the city reveled in this indulgent pastime, which was closely and conscientiously regulated by Nash, new anti-gambling laws were introduced in 1745 which altered people’s perceptions towards gambling its greatest advocate – Beau Nash. His life ended with him in severe financial straits, but having given the city more than it ultimately gave him.

From Rajahs to dandies to dueling actors and lyricists, Bath’s properties have hosted a fascinating array of characters whose lives have included an astonishing range of accomplishments. But… who have we missed? Is there a jewel amongst Bath’s plaques who we have not yet included in our blogs? If so, let us know on TwitterFacebook or Google+ and, as long as they’re not called Jacob Von Hogflume, we might include them in our next blog.


Landlords & Tenants Endorse Bath’s Modern Makeovers

An increasing number of contemporary new developments are being surreptitiously smuggled into Bath’s renowned Georgian architecture. Whilst a staggering 14% of buildings in Bath have listed status, well above the national average of 6%, developers have pinpointed certain areas of the city as ripe for a contemporary makeover – something that has gone down very well with both tenants and investors.

The latest addition to the city has seen Red Earth Developments rejuvenate twenty four studio, one and two bedroom apartments with allocated parking in the Lansdown area of Bath. Whilst these apartments do not reflect the traditional period splendour that one has come to expect from property in Bath, their modern and practical finishes have proved popular with tenants, especially with young professionals. At the time of writing, Reside has let six of these apartments for investment landlords, taking an average of just nine days to find each new tenant.

Reside has let apartments in several of Bath’s most recent developments such as Norfolk Court and Ladymead House, and a distinct pattern has emerged. For all the stunning architecture, high ceilings and period features that exist in Bath, there are a wealth of house hunters who are happy to eschew Georgian splendour. Some tenants, it seems, prefer contemporary comforts over classical cornices. Despite the differences between these two developments – one is a Bath Stone-clad new build with a stylish metallic upper tier, the other a Georgian building formerly used as sheltered accommodation for the elderly – they both boast stunning contemporary interiors with integrated appliances under warranty, granite work surfaces and wiring for satellite television and high-speed broadband. All of these factors make moving such an easy transition for new tenants, who have to act quickly to secure such a property. Our most recent Ladymead House apartment was bagged by a tenant before we could even begin to market it.

These new developments have also proved to be a popular way into the market for first time investors. Typically consisting of practical, stylish and high spec apartments, they are targeted towards the more affordable end of the investment property ladder, and come with long warranties which would provide any landlord, no matter how experienced, with peace of mind. At The Coachworks on London Road, Bath’s newest development, as little as £99,000 buys an investor an exclusive and modern apartment with instant access to the city centre. Based on our previous experiences with similar developments, such an apartment would come with strong tenant appeal and would be likely to let very quickly.

Bath is a city renowned worldwide for its stunning Georgian architecture, something for which many tenants specifically move to the city. For investors and certain tenants, however, contemporary and practical properties are becoming increasingly appealing.

If you are a landlord and wish to speak to us concerning your property, new or old, please do not hesitate to contact us.


The Write Stuff


Reside5 – Half Term Trips

For many, the peace and romance of Valentine’s Day will be shattered at around 3pm as Bath’s schools jettison an avalanche of excitable children from the sanctuary of the schoolyard and tyrannised teachers hastily secure the gates behind them for a week. With half term upon us, many a hassled household will be doing their best to balance work, life and a tangle of tireless tykes, so it is important to have an impressive armoury of activities at the ready.

Just as well, then, that we have scoured the region and picked 5 of our favourite things to do, places to be and sights to see with the kids during half term. We hope that it helps you to plan some fantastic family fun, and please let us know what you get up to on Twitter, Facebook or Google+.

1. Bath City Farm
Kelston View, BA2 1NW
Twitter: @BathCityFarm
(photo credit: bathcityfarm.org.uk)

The presence of Shetland ponies, Dexter cattle, Wiltshire Horn sheep, pygmy goats, boar and guinea fowl on the southwestern outskirts of Bath might cause you to think that Old MacDonald has decamped to the city. They actually belong to Bath City Farm, a 37 acre community organisation which promotes sustainable farming and living. Whilst picturesque walks can be enjoyed over the farmland, the stars of the show are undoubtedly the animals who roam the fields and can be cautiously approached as long as an adult’s in attendance. The pigs, chickens and ducks can be fed with feed from the farm shop, and pony grooming sessions are also occasionally available. To top it all off, entry to this wonderful community experience is absolutely free, although donations are gratefully accepted.

2. The Egg Theatre
Sawclose, BA1 1ET
Twitter: @theeggbath
(photo credit: guide2bath.com)

The Egg is a cosy and comfortable theatre dedicated to children and families, and they have a half term agenda packed with adventure and excitement. Wanted: Rabbit gets half term off to a thrilling start with the tale (tail?) of a manhunt (rabbithunt?) for an escaped jailbird (jailrabbit? – enough, Ed.). On Monday, there is evocative storytelling with live musical accompaniment and the rest of the week is occupied by Grandpa’s Railway, a poignant story from the highly acclaimed M6 Theatre Company.

3. Adventure Golf
Royal Victoria Park, BA1 2NR
(photo credit: visitbath.co.uk)

Unless the weather dramatically changes over the next few days, you may have to turn up to Victoria Falls Adventure Golf dressed for the Niagara Falls. However, kids couped up indoors contracting cabin fever is not a pleasant experience, so a trip to the Adventure Golf clad in anoraks may well be the solution. 18 holes of very crazy golf wend their way between waterfalls and over waterways, so there is always a chance of getting splashed even if the weather holds!

4. Frozen Sing-Along at Little @ Komedia
Westgate Street, BA1 1EP
Twitter: @LittleTheatreUK
(photo credit: flickr.com/thelittletheatrecinema)

In a world… where children are scowled upon in a cinema for the slightest rustling, bustling or fidgeting, what a relief it will be to take your musical minors to a movie theatre where participation is very much encouraged. As far as family films are concerned, Frozen was the big hit of the winter and Bath’s favourite cinema, The Little Theatre, is hosting sing-along screenings at Komedia this half term. Packed with typical Disney belters, this is an event which is sure to bring the house down.

5. Two Tunnels Greenway
Twitter: @twotunnelsbath
(photo credit: ctcwest.org.uk)

Opened in 2013 to much acclaim, the Two Tunnels Greenway is a cycle path which follows a disused railway line which connects Bath to the Midford Valley, making use of two tunnels which had been blocked off since the Beeching cuts in 1966. The tunnels are both lit and music is played in the lengthier of the two tunnels; best of all they provide shelter from whatever the elements are doing outside. Any grown-ups in the cycling parties will be pleased to know that the route leads past some very pleasant pubs – cycling can be such thirsty work.

As the school bells signal the start of half term, I hope that our blog will help you to feel ready to entertain the whole family this half term. And don’t forget to let us know what you got up to!


Tenant Demand Set To Increase Into 2014… And Beyond

Walk into Reside during the winter months and you may see a member of staff huddled over a paperback. You would be forgiven for thinking that they were squeezing in a quick chapter of whatever blockbuster had been left for them under the tree on Christmas morning, but it is far more likely that they will be scrutinising Rightmove’s own festive treat: the Little Blue Book. Packed full of data gleaned from Rightmove during 2013, this tiny tome concisely summarises national property trends during the past 12 months. With the help of this and a brand new report on the private rental sector published by Knight Frank, this blog reviews 2013 and speculates whether 2014 will be a year of merriment or malcontent for Landlords.

Rightmove’s report indicates that demand for rental property has increased dramatically during 2013, with this put down to potential home owners being ‘unable to clear post-2008 deposit hurdles’. However, whilst trends over the last three years have seen the supply of new rental properties to the market dwindle, 2013 has bucked this trend and for the first time in years the gap between supply and demand has diminished. New investors are being tempted to the market by improving returns and a recovery in the sales market, as evidenced by a 29% increase in buy-to-let loans during the third quarter of 2013 compared with the same period during 2012. With this in mind, it seems that 2013 has been a year of real growth for the rental market – both in supply and demand, but is this likely to continue into 2014?

New research carried out by Knight Frank suggests that the 4 million households who currently live in privately rented accommodation in the UK will increase by more than 25% by the end of 2016. Even as the housing market starts to recover and Help to Buy lends a hand to purchasers with smaller deposits, the report speculates that Help to Buy ‘is unlikely to reverse the direction of travel to the private rented sector’. Knight Frank cite a strong likelihood that the scheme may be scaled back, and also the slim chance that the full £12.5 billion in mortgage guarantees offered will be used. The report concludes that this, allied with an economy gaining momentum and creating more demand for employment and therefore rental properties in urban areas, will see the demand in rental properties continue to increase for the foreseeable future.

Knight Frank and Rightmove’s findings are borne out by our own results at Reside, where we have seen the total number of lets agreed per year increase by 53% between 2011 and 2013. We have already felt the impact of the rise in tenant demand this year, as January 2014 was our busiest start to the year ever with the number of viewings carried out during the month up by 39% compared to January 2013.

With tenant demand continuing to increase at the same time as a small resurgence in the housing market, it seems that there has never been a better time to invest in rental property. If you are considering joining the ever-increasing number of investment landlords in or around Bath, or simply wish to keep up with our lettings news, please do not hesitate to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+. Alternatively, our office contact details can be found on our Contact Us page.


Reside5 – Christmas in Bath

It’s the week before Christmas and here at Reside,
We feel it our duty to help and to guide.
We love Bath in winter and have cherry-picked things,
That reflect Christmas and the joy that it brings.

So when you get home from your Christmas excursion
And are indulging in some mince pie immersion,
Or sipping away at your ale or your bitter,
Don’t keep it to yourself, tell us – on Facebook or Twitter.

1. Peter Pan at the Theatre Royal
12 December 2013 – 12 January 2014
Twitter: @TheatreRBath

Bath’s Theatre Royal will be retaining its place in the heart of all panto loving families this Christmas with a production of J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan – one of the best-loved stories in children’s literature.

The fun starts when Peter Pan flies into the Darling children’s nursery one night and whisks them off to Neverland. And there the magic begins, with Tinkerbell, Tiger Lily and the Lost Boys, as the children go into combat with Captain Hook and his pirate crew.

There will be flying, special effects, comedy, singing, dancing and lots of audience participation in traditional panto style. Jessica Punch stars as Peter Pan and look out for young dancers from Bath’s Dorothy Coleborn School of Dance playing the Lost Boys.

2. Christmas at the American Museum
Until 22 December 2013
Twitter: @Americanmuseum

It’s a good time of year to visit The American Museum as you’ll see it dressed to the nines with traditional decorations throughout. Its crowning glory is a seventeen foot Nordman Fir tree that dominates the Central Hall. This tree is lit with over 1,000 lights and hung with ornaments that have been handmade by staff and volunteers.

Most of the Period Rooms pre-date the celebration of Christmas as we know it today, so the displays show winter activities that were popular during each period. You’ll see festive colours added by costume, textiles, and flowers. Meanwhile the shop has plenty of decorations and gifts if you’re still hunting!

3. Carols by Candlelight
18-20 December 2013
Twitter: @BathBachChoir

The City of Bath Bach Choir will perform three consecutive nights of carols and Christmas music in the atmospheric, candlelit Pump Room.

In this, its 67th Season, the choir will perform a mixture of traditional and modern Christmas carols, directed by Nigel Perrin and accompanied by Marcus Sealy. The audience will be able to join the choir in singing some of the carols.

4. Bath on Ice at Royal Victoria Park
Until 5th January.
Twitter: @BathOnIce

Hire those skates and get out on the ice to wobble and fall or dazzle them all. Afterwards, sustenance can be found from a new Christmas Avenue offering mulled wine, mince pies, roasted chestnuts and hot dogs. Keep an eye on the @BathOnIce Twitter feed for special offers, such as their regular 2-for-1 day, and yes – they do have the plastic penguins for those of us with no balance!

5. The Holburne Winter Light Installation: Light to Light
Until 5th January 2014
Twitter: @Holburne

Lighting designer Patrick Woodroffe has created a spectacular display in the Museum Garden, with a multicoloured light show accompanied by a soundtrack created by composer Matt Clifford.

Patrick Woodroffe has produced lighting designs for many, including Lady Gaga and The Rolling Stones as well as the opening and closing ceremonies of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Matt Clifford wrote the score for cult horror film The Return of The Living Dead and toured the world as a keyboard player with bands such as Yes and The Rolling Stones. Scores for the West End include One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest and the ballet The Red Shoes.

Merry Christmas from us all here at Reside; we hope that the big day is filled with fine food, good cheer and fun times.


An Evening Of Art

Reside are extremely proud to be sponsoring The Prince’s Trust’s ‘Evening of Art’ for the second time. 2011’s inaugural event exceeded all expectations by raising more than £74,000 on the night, with all of the proceeds invested directly into supporting disadvantaged young people in the region.

This year’s Evening of Art is being staged at The Assembly Rooms in Bath on Thursday December 5th.  It will feature a silk screen and photo collage of Venice by Sir Peter Blake – best known for his Sgt Pepper album cover – as well as works by illustrator Sir Quentin Blake, Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood, Nick Park of Wallace and Gromit fame and cartoonist Gerald Scarfe.

The aim is to raise more than £70,000 for disadvantaged young people in the South West by auctioning these artworks. The auction is on an invite-only basis but anyone can bid for works online. For more details and information on how to bid for any of the items, click here to visit the Prince’s Trust website.

Local artist Peter Brown, affectionately known as ‘Pete the Street’, has donated work, along with Prince’s Trust founder HRH The Prince of Wales.

Online bidding will close at 12 noon on December 5th to make way for the live auction in the evening, conducted by Christies’ contemporary art expert Tom Best. Guests at the event will be given touch-screen tablets to use for a silent auction.

We at Reside hope that the wonderful works of art which have been donated this year will raise the bar even higher than in 2011, helping to support the invaluable achievements of The Prince’s Trust. We encourage anybody who wishes to support the Prince’s Trust to bid generously.

Which painting can you see adorning your living room wall? We’d like to know what you would bid on, so get in touch with us via Facebook or Twitter and we might even let you know our personal favourites!


1 In 4 Landlords Earn A Living From Rental Property

It seems that there has never been a better time to be a private landlord: tenant demand is up and predicted to rise even further; rents are increasing and yields are at their highest since the Landlords Panel research study began in 2006.

It is unsurprising therefore that more than one in four landlords are now making a living from letting their properties, according to recent research by BDRC Continental.

The research also found that a further 52% use rental properties to supplement their income, with 74% of those planning to use rental income to help fund their retirement.

Landlords stated that the opportunity to achieve a better return on property than investing in the stock market was a major factor in entering the buy-to-let market, along with the chance to make rental income their main source of income in the future.

It seems that optimism is in the air with 68% of landlords rating their capital gains and rental prospects as good or very good, compared with 60% in the third quarter of last year. This was found to be at the highest level since 2007.

John Heron, managing director of Paragon Mortgages, said: “Tenant demand for rental property remains strong, and with the mainstay of investment coming from private landlords, it is important for lenders to develop products that can underpin sustainable growth.”

Many of the landlords surveyed said they were looking to expand their portfolios, which is good news for buy-to-let mortgage providers and brokers. However it raises another issue when you consider that 63% agree ‘strongly’ that the buy-to-let market would benefit from greater competition. The industry cannot afford to have its key customers believing there’s too little competition in the market.

The research sounded a warning note for brokers and intermediaries: 21% of all landlords agree ‘strongly’ that they will approach a lender directly the next time they need funding.  And meanwhile some lenders are moving in the direction of providing a more holistic service to landlords – e.g. educating them on legal obligations, marketing and how to become more profitable.

With tenant demand almost certainly set to increase into 2014, it seems inevitable that even more landlords will be able to make a living from their rental properties in the future. If you are a landlord or are thinking about investing in rental property in Bath, we would be more than happy to discuss any questions you have about this topic either in person or via Facebook or Twitter.


Reside5 – Plaque To The Future!

‘The tiresome journey from London – it took almost two days by coach.’
Lowndes, William, 1982. They came to Bath. Bristol: Redcliffe Press.

This journey was taken by many a celebrity visiting Bath in the 17th and 18th century, some of whom stayed and grew to love the bustling, cosmopolitan spa city.

Bath then was a boom town, attracting merchants, nobility, artists, writers and politicians. They would drink the waters, gossip, socialise, shop and attend concerts and the theatre. Maybe not that much has changed.

Here are a few famous residents of yesteryear. You’ll find their plaques dotted around the city. Please share your feedback (or indeed any vintage gossip!) with us via Facebook or Twitter.

Dickens plaque

Charles Dickens

35, St. James’s Square
Here dwelt Charles Dickens 1840

One of the writers closest to the English heart is Charles Dickens – the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era. His characters live on – in films, on the page and in our minds. His books, amongst them Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby, The Pickwick Papers and A Christmas Carol are as compelling now as they were then.

Dickens often visited his close friend Walter Savage Landor at his house at 35, St. James’s Square. According to some, the plaque is a red herring, because it is believed that Dickens didn’t even spend one night there and would return after dinner to the York House Hotel on George Street.

The city gave Dickens inspiration for at least one of his characters – it is said that Mr Pickwick was based on Moses Pickwick, landlord of the White Hart inn.

wordsworth plaque

William Wordsworth

9 North Parade
Here dwelt William Wordsworth b. 1770 d. 1850

‘Rest and be thankful’ the poet William Wordsworth is famous for saying.

On the 29th April 1841, the Bath Chronicle announced that “The distinguished poet Wordsworth is at present residing in Bath, where we understand he will remain until the middle of June”.

Staying in the city to attend the wedding of his daughter Dora at St James’s Church, we like to think he rested and was thankful for some moments of solitude during his stay at number 9 North Parade.

Wordsworth had been in Somerset before, during the early days of his friendship with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy lived near Coleridge’s home in Nether Stowey. Together, the two great poets helped launch the Romantic Age in English literature.

Jane Austen

4, Sydney Place
Here lived Jane Austen 1801 – 1805

One of the most widely read and beloved English novelists of all time, Jane Austen is so closely associated with the city of Bath she even has a festival dedicated to her. Visit in September to find people in period costume strolling around the city.

Jane Austen grew up in Hampshire. It was here that the majority of her  novels were written. When in 1800 her father Rev. Austen announced he was to retire from the ministry and move the family to Bath, Jane was reluctant; she was a country girl at heart. However, the city is the main setting for both her final novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.

The Austen family lived at 4, Sydney Place for three years, then moved to 27, Green Park Buildings, where Rev. Austen died in January 1805. Afterwards they lived at 25, Gay Street. The Jane Austen Centre on 40 Gay Street is set up as a replica of number 25.


Thomas Gainsborough

17, The Circus
Here lived T. Gainsborough R.A. b 1727 d, 1788

British portrait and landscape painter, Thomas Gainsborough moved to Bath with his family in 1759. As an ambitious, entrepreneurial young artist, he had decided the city was exactly the sort of place in which to build his career. It wasn’t long till his talents were attracting the likes of Lord Chesterfield, Sheridan, Burke and Elizabeth Linley, all of whose portraits he painted.

He lived and worked in Bath for sixteen years, renting his house in the Circus from a Mr Penny, who he paid a quarterly rate of thirteen shillings and fourpence.* During this time he was to fulfill his ambitions of building his career and was invited to became a founder member of the Royal Academy of Arts.

One of Gainsborough’s most famous paintings, The Blue Boy, was painted during his years here. It is thought to portray Jonathan Buttall, the son of a local successful hardware merchant who was a close friend of the artist. When it was sold to the American railway pioneer, Henry Edwards Huntington in 1921 there was a public outcry. It remains to this day in the Huntington Library, California.

William Wilberforce

36 Great Pulteney Street
William Wilberforce b. 1759 d. 1833 stayed here 1802 and 1805

The British politician and philanthropist, William Wilberforce, headed the parliamentary campaign against the British slave trade for twenty-six years until the passage of the Slave Trade Act 1807.

He stayed in Bath on a few occasions: firstly in the Royal Crescent where the parents of his new wife lived – he married in Walcot Church in 1797. Later, in 1802 and 1805, the couple chose to live at 36 Great Pulteney Street, where you’ll find the plaque. In 1831 they returned and stayed at no. 9 North Parade.

According to biographer Anne Stott, Wilberforce said in his diaries that Bath was one of the worst possible places for finding any leisure in the morning, because the door knocker was continuously going. He was something of a celebrity in the city.

With so many names of note recorded on the city’s plaques, it has been difficult choosing just five. Lives and stories line Bath’s Georgian walls, and future Reside5 blogs will certainly explore some of the lesser-known personalities.