It’s going to be a blue (and white) Christmas at the Holburne!

It’s going to be a blue (and white) Christmas at the Holburne!

Got a chance to meet Jenny Scott – the new Director of the Holburne Museum – today and she’s very excited about the venue’s new exhibition which features the comic art of Thomas Rowlandson. He was one of the leading caricaturists of Georgian Britain and many of his cartoons feature Bath. The exhibition has just opened and will run through to February next year.

Jenny has also been telling me what’s in store for this year’s Christmas theme at the Holburne – so stay with this article until the end to find out more!

Jenny has come to Bath from her previous job as curator at the Royal Collection Trust. A job she has done since 2004. She has curated a number of major exhibitions for the Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh.

She also worked with the Holburne Museum team last year on the Rembrandt Exhibition which also featured paintings from the Royal Collection.

But first – let’s talk about Thomas Rowlandson.



Jenny has only been in the job for five weeks and was not about to divulge long-term plans for the Holburne. However she was able to give me a taster of what to expect at the museum this Christmas.




Peace at Bath Abbey but plans for enforcement to continue.

Peace at Bath Abbey but plans for enforcement to continue.

Despite peace being declared between the Rector of Bath Abbey and several buskers who – he said – disrupted his services – it seems long-term plans to control the level of amplified music in Abbey Churchyard are still under consideration.

The Rector of Bath Abbey talking to buskers today.

The Rector of Bath Abbey talking to buskers today.

The Rector – the Reverend Prebendary Edward Mason – made the announcement of a meeting between himself and the buskers – on Bath Abbey’s Facebook page.

It read:

‘In light of recent events and the consequent media interest, Bath Abbey Rector Edward Mason and colleague Claire Robson met with street musicians Jack Morgan and Ben Powell today.

The meeting provided an opportunity to share how distressing the last few days have been for both the Abbey and the street musicians.

Apologies were given and received and both parties explored how they can work together towards resolving this issue.

Both agreed that the Abbey’s first concern continues to be the needs of the people who enter this holy place.bath buskers

Both recognised the special contribution street musicians make to the life of the city.

Both recognised the need for a workable system that allows street performance to flourish while respecting those who live and work in the city.

The meeting concluded warmly with a mutual determination to draw a line under the past and foster good relationships in the future.’

However, Cllr David Dixon – who is Deputy Leader of B&NES and Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods – has told the Virtual Museum that he is pleased a meeting has taken place.

Cllr David Dixon

Cllr David Dixon

‘Although this is great news, both groups are very aware of the need to have a scheme that is enforceable.

It’s peace at the moment – with the current group of buskers – but what happens when other buskers come along and ruin it for everyone else?

We will have all interested parties in soon and look to work up an enforceable scheme.

The Council is still looking at the amplification ban as a longer-term solution.’

Concern grows for future of the “Min”.

One of Bath’s best-loved Georgian buildings could be about to shut up shop.

With a personal view of developments, Professor George Odam, who was Patient Governor of the RNHRD for nine years until his resignation in August last year, raises his concerns for the building’s future and has his own ideas about how the Min could still play a useful role to enhance the city’s reputation as a health spa.

In 1988 there was a move to relocate The Min to the RUH site in Combe Park and the plans and rationale can be viewed at the Guildhall Archive. Merging the administration of the two hospitals makes good sense, but the identity and mission of both are very different and both need preservation so that they can continue to function. This has been achieved in many other English cities.

However, in 1988 the proposal was to sell The Min and make it into a shopping mall, with a Plan B of a hotel. Since the rebuild of Southgate, the loss of The Podium and the new hotel development in Beau Street, the most likely outcome of the sale of The Min would be a boarded up site that would deteriorate and be subject to vandalism.

But money <strong>is</strong> a central issue and a new campaign to save, recondition and modernise the interior of The Min and restore the Grade 2 exterior would have to be found. There are local, national and private funds for this sort of thing once a case has been well made, and I am certain that many patients, families and friends would wish to support such a venture.

Bath is the only significant and active European Spa City without its own Spa Hospital. In the 1960s and 70s The Min’s hydrotherapy pool was fed by the Roman Spring until the amoeba stopped it all. The conduits still lie beneath the streets.”


<strong>EDITOR</strong> Professor Odam mentioned the launch of Dr Roger Roll’s new book describing the rise of mineral water as a therapy and how treatments in Rheumatology have changed. It will be launched in the Chapel at The Min on Monday, November 26th. It’s a ticket only presentation which is complemented by an exhibition of original 18th century patient records and historical medical artefacts.

<a href=”; rel=”attachment wp-att-481″><img title=”chapel” alt=”” src=”; height=”168″ width=”224″ /></a> The chapel at The Min

Kate Lane and her helpers at the hospital have been putting it  together and l know she wants to develop the display further and hopefully be able to let school groups in to visit. I have asked her to do her own Virtual Museum piece on the subject in the not too distant future!

However, l have been lucky enough to have a sneak preview of some of the exhibits. I love signatures and have had the fantastic opportunity of gazing down at the names of some of the city’s historical ‘greats’ in their own hand writing – including Richard Nash, William Oliver, Ralph Allen and John Wood the Elder. Also some of the earliest patients records in very clear handwriting.

<a href=”; rel=”attachment wp-att-485″><img title=”ralph allen signature” alt=”” src=”; height=”210″ width=”280″ /></a> Clearly ‘Ralph Allen’

<a href=”; rel=”attachment wp-att-486″><img title=”richard nash” alt=”” src=”; height=”168″ width=”224″ /></a> Look down the list for ‘Jo Wood’

<a href=”; rel=”attachment wp-att-483″><img title=”patients report” alt=”” src=”; height=”260″ width=”195″ /></a> Patient records from 1749!

Remember this was a hospital serving the poor of all England and many of them stayed here for many weeks. At the bottom of each entry is a clear indication of whether they had benefitted from their treatment or died!

I loved the collection of badges which had to be worn by patients to identify them as such. One entry records the fact that a patient was turned out for being caught in a local public house. Landlords could be fined for serving patients from the hospital.

<a href=”; rel=”attachment wp-att-482″><img title=”hospital badges” alt=”” src=”; height=”260″ width=”195″ /></a> Collection of ward and patient badges

There is much here that truly deserves to be seen by a wider audience. This ancient institution – England’s first national hospital – is an important part of this city’s history. 2012.

Spruce up proposed for Bath street traders.

Spruce up proposed for Bath street traders.

Existing street traders in Bath

Existing street traders in Bath

Looks like Bath intends to spruce up the look of its city centre street-trading pitches in a proposed revision of its licensing policy.

Proposals to be discussed by a B&NES Licensing Committee next Monday – October 6th – will ‘set out a preferred set of standards for the design and appearance of stalls and compliance is expected from all street trading pitches.

If the proposals are adopted by the Council’s Cabinet in November then stalls within the main shopping area of Bath will be expected to use a particular design ‘in recognition of the importance of this area and the World Heritage status of the city.’

The area affected includes the central spine of Milsom Street and down through Union Street, Stall Street and Southgate Street – in addition to other popular areas such as Kingsmead Square, Sawclose and Terrace Walk.

The new standards would have to be adopted by all new applicants looking to be granted a street trading pitch and existing pitches would need to upgrade their units by January 1st next year.

Another street trading pitch.

Another street trading pitch.

The Virtual Museum hears that ‘to assist both existing applicants and new street traders, the Council has produced guidance notes which identify the types of stalls and standards of quality and design which would achieve compliance.In anticipation of this change, the Council has already been working with existing street traders to help them upgrade their units.’

Seems B&NES is going to buy a number of new look units and rent them out to traders ‘ on a cost recovery basis’ for the period that they have a street trading consent.

This would cost the council under ten thousand pounds in total and the money found from Licensing revenue budgets.

Existing street traders in Bath.

Existing street traders in Bath.

The proposal come after a review of the Council’s street trading policy to ensure it remains up to date.

‘The Council is keen that this revision of its Street Trading Policy emphasises the importance of street trading to both the local environment and local economy and the role it plays in helping small business to establish and grow.’

All of this come with a warning to anyone thinking of offering goods for sale without permission.

‘All streets in Bath and North East Somerset as designated as ‘ consent streets’. The effect of this is that, with certain exceptions, selling, exposing, or offering for sale any article in a street requires a street trading consent issued by the Council. Persons trading without a consent are liable to prosecution for an offence and , if convicted, can be fined up to level 3 of the standard scale, currently £1,000.’

Sydney Gardens gets that sinking feeling.

Sydney Gardens gets that sinking feeling.

The sink hole in Sydney Gardens

The sink hole in Sydney Gardens

Evidence of another depression forming nearby.

Evidence of another depression forming nearby.

A sink hole has opened up in Sydney Gardens and the area has been cordoned off.

It was so perfectly round that l thought at first they were about to plant a tree!

It appears to be with deep and there is evidence of another depression forming close to this opening.

I am told it is not the first time such an event has taken place in these former Georgian pleasure gardens.

B&NES of course are ‘looking into it’ – and a smile is permitted! I am hoping they will be telling me more than that soon.

Poppies knit-in

Poppies knit-in

Bath Guildhall will be festooned with swathes of bright red poppies in November – all made of crochet andBath Guildhall knitting.

A group of ladies came together to knit roses for Bath in Fashion in May, to fundraise for Kids Company. They enjoyed themselves so much they wanted to do another project and support Royal British Legion in this First World War centenary year.


Emma Leith (R) and members of the knitting group.

Emma Leith (R) and members of the knitting group.

Group organiser and textile designer Emma Leith is encouraging local residents to join in and get knitting.

Plans are also being made for knitting flourishes at the Council’s buildings in Keynsham and Midsomer Norton.

Bath & North East Somerset Council Chairman, Councillor Martin Veal, said: “The Council was delighted to be approached by the knitting group. The poppies will be in the Guildhall, up the main staircase, in early November.

“Sunday 9 November is Remembrance Sunday and the following Tuesday 11 November marks the Armistice of 1918 that ended the First World War.

The Council will make a donation to Royal British Legion to show our support for the charity’s invaluable work.”

Major Roger Evans, Royal British Legion, Bath Branch, said: “This is a fantastic way of raising awareness of the Legion’s Poppy Appeal. We hope that local people will take the opportunity to see the knitted poppies when they go on display in the Guildhall.”

The pattern for making a poppy is on Emma’s website:

Emma said: “We are more than happy for people to send their poppies to be included in the display.”

Contact Emma Leith via the website at

What time’s the next stage-coach?

What time’s the next stage-coach?

Fed up with today’s newspaper headlines? Well step back into the past and check out the stories making news around Bath more than two hundred years ago. It won’t cost you a penny to do it either.

Georgian NewspaperProjectBath and North East Somerset Council have put information from the local press covering a period from 1770-1799. Volunteers have been sifting through copies of the 18th century editions of the Bath Chronicle and have indexed in-depth information on everything from art and fashion to industry and travel.

The index can be searched by people, places and any free text and is a fascinating source for historical research.

You can then order copies from Bath Library for a charge.

Go to to find the Georgian Newspaper Project and more information.

Victoria Gallery art donation

Victoria Gallery art donation

Bath’s Victoria Gallery’s art collection has just grown by 28 items. They form a donation by a former loyal friend and supporter.

Between floors at the Victoria Art Gallery.

Between floors at the Victoria Art Gallery.

Bradford-on-Avon resident Dr Sheila Day was also a Trustee of the Gallery’s Friends Group. She very generously decided that, after her death, the Gallery could choose pieces from her wonderful collection of modern sculptures, ceramics, painting and prints for public display until the end of the year.

As well as being a great supporter of the arts locally, Dr Day (née Murray) was for many years a highly-regarded GP practicing in Wiltshire.
Following Dr Day’s death on 8 November 2012, a total of 28 items from her art collection passed to the Friends of the Victoria Art Gallery, a registered charity, who then transferred ownership to the Gallery.

Francis Marshall is the sister of Sheila Day and was  at the Victoria Gallery  to represent her deceased sister.

Francis Marshall is the sister of Sheila Day and was at the Victoria Gallery to represent her deceased sister.

Twenty of the best pieces from the Day Bequest are now on display upstairs at the Gallery. They include prints by Marc Chagall and Ana Maria Pacheco, paintings by Keith Vaughan and Alan Davie, sculptures by Michael Ayrton and Eduardo Paolozzi, and ceramics by John Maltby and Robin Welch.

Local artists who are featured include Ann Christopher RA, John Eaves, Peter Hayes and Paul Sonabend.

Jon Benington, Manager of the Bath & North East Somerset Council-run Gallery, says: “We are tremendously grateful to Dr Day for making this very public-spirited gift to the Gallery, which greatly enhances the representation of modern and contemporary artists in the permanent collection.

The items in this bequest will add a new dimension to the Gallery’s collection, as well as being a permanent and fitting memorial to one of the Gallery’s most loyal supporters.”

The Victoria Art Gallery, near Pulteney Bridge in Bath, is open 10am to 5pm from Tuesday to Saturday, from 1.30pm to 5pm on Sunday and closed on Monday. Admission to the permanent collection is free to all.

Poolside architecture.

Poolside architecture.

cleveland pools trustIt’s a case of one trust setting out to help another on Tuesday next – September 30th – when Bath Preservation Trust give over the Building of Bath Collection – at the Countess of Huntington’s Chapel – to the Cleveland Pools Trust to use.

It’s for a talk on the way architectural forms and styles have shaped our ability to bathe in Bath.

The lecture is to be given by Dr Amy Frost and tickets are £10 with all profits going to the last of Britain’s Georgian lidos which is busy raising funds for a river pontoon to be installed next year to give easier access and  increase visitor numbers.

The event starts at 6.30 and the full details are on the poster with this article. Click on the image to enlarge it.