Busker Jack tells his side of Bath Abbey story.

Busker Jack tells his side of Bath Abbey story.

A group of Bath buskers in Abbey Churchyard today.

A group of Bath buskers in Abbey Churchyard today.

The busker who brought a Sunday afternoon service at Bath Abbey to a halt has given his side of the story to the Virtual Museum of Bath.

It was his music which sent 200 parishioners and visitors home after the Rector decided it was too loud an interference to allow the Evensong worship to continue.

The Abbey and Bath and North East Somerset Council now think something should be done to regulate the level of amplification around the Abbey.


An interview with the Rector is coming soon but here’s the start of Jack’s story.



Shortly after recording this interview with the Virtual Museum, Jack called me over again and said he wanted to add some more information about the Sunday service incident. His opinions are his own and not those of this Museum.

I was also able to catch up with the Rector of Bath Abbey – so do stay with this interview as the Rector is on here also!



Busking brings Bath Abbey to breaking point.

Busking brings Bath Abbey to breaking point.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

The Rector of Bath Abbey has declared enough is enough as far as amplified music and buskers is concerned.

In a new move B&NES could soon be banning all amplification in the immediate vicinity of the Abbey.

Just a couple of days ago the church was forced to abandon an afternoon service being attended by over 200 people because of the noise from outside.

The Reverend Prebendary Edward Mason told the Virtual Museum:

‘The loud music from the buskers started just after our 3.30pm Choral Evensong service began and was clearly audible during the Bible reading. It was impossible to continue.

The Bible reading talked quite clearly of the responsibility of leaders to care for those in their charge. I must take this seriously. Hundreds, even thousands in Bath, have their peace, prayer and remembrance blighted by buskers on a daily basis.’

The Rector said this wasn’t a on- off incident either.

‘Over the last two to three years, we have really tried. We have met with the buskers

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

often, mostly at their meeting every day. We know many by name and have tried to build relationships based on trust.

Together with the buskers, we have tried to establish a ‘traffic-light’ system with ‘reds’ indicating worship and ‘greens’ when noise is less of a problem, the majority are happy to keep to this.

Although it’s a minority of buskers who deliberately flout this, it’s a very loud and unreasonable minority who ruin it for everyone. Over the last couple of years, amplifiers are used more and more, the volume has increased and we are now at crisis point.’

Prebendary Mason said the Abbey had suffered long enough – at times it has been impossible for work to continue.

‘We have had weddings and funerals disrupted and choir practices and services ruined on numerous occasions, not just yesterday afternoon for the 150-200 people in the Abbey who were there for the peace and solace of Choral Evensong.

It gets very busy and noisy in Abbey Churchyard.

It gets very busy and noisy in Abbey Churchyard.

The intrusive and escalating noise of the buskers is a city-wide issue – not just the Abbey’s. It’s a deep concern for the whole of Bath.

Bath and North East Council has taken a ‘permissive approach’ and this has meant that the whole of Bath city-centre is plagued from April to October by street music, without limit to the number of pitches, no limit to the noise, no control whatsoever.

The central aisle inside Bath Abbey

The central aisle inside Bath Abbey

The Council Officers have always been courteous but they are under-staffed and say that the law can do nothing to protect us.

A new anti-social behaviour law, enacted in March and coming in to force in October, may give the Council powers to ban amplification in certain areas. These areas will have to be agreed by the local council following public consultation.

How do I feel? I feel like weeping. Truly. Weeping for a city ruined by the clamour of music. Weeping for choirs that are victims. Weeping for my staff subjected to music every day.

Weeping that we human beings just cannot resolve conflict. (Let’s not look at Syrians and condemn them when we can’t even sort out music amicably!) Weeping for an Abbey that has had a superb ministry of peace, healing and quiet for hundreds of years and which is being subject to the violence of noise.

Next week the funeral of teenager Sammuel Amin will be held in the Abbey. We just hope that it isn’t ruined for his family, friends and the hundreds coming to pay their respects. Why is this something we need to even be worrying about?

“Please pray for us as we try to resolve this issue.’

Bath and North East Somerset Council has released the following statement:

‘The Council has been committed to achieving a balance where busking can continue to bring vibrancy to the city centre of Bath without impacting detrimentally on businesses, organisations and residents located close to the busking pitches.

Council officers have been proactivity monitoring in the vicinity of the Abbey following concerns being raised, and have held a number of meetings with the Abbey to resolve the situation.

An innovative “traffic light” system has been developed, in partnership with the buskers, which the vast majority of buskers adhere to – which is designed to reduce the impact at sensitive times – particularly when services are taking place.

The Council is able to take action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 if the busker is causing a statutory noise nuisance. To do this the Council has to collect evidence of an on-going pattern of serious noise disturbances which are materially interfering with the enjoyment of someone’s property. Noise abatement notices have been served on buskers by the Council in the past when all other interventions have not been complied with.

The Council is in the process of contacting the Abbey after receiving a complaint yesterday afternoon and will be investigating further.

Cllr David Dixon

Cllr David Dixon

Cllr David Dixon (Lib-Dem, Oldfield), Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, said: “Clearly the powers previously offered to local authorities have not been effective enough to deal with this type of nuisance. Therefore, under new powers provided by the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, we will be looking to ban all amplification within the immediate vicinity of Bath Abbey.’

The Virtual Museum has also found a website for Bath Buskers which lists a ‘Code of Practice.’

Codes numbers 1 and 2 deal with noise levels.

‘1. Noise (for example music and voice) should not be so loud that it can plainly be heard at a distance of 50 metres. Busking must not be intrusive or a nuisance to nearby premises.
2. Quiet amplification is permitted.

Not quite sure what ‘quiet amplification’ is but l will be getting some comments from the buskers soon.

Comment has come quickly. An email from Jez Broun – musician and busker and the the man responsible for the Bath Buskers Guide. He told the Virtual Museum:

‘ I am as appalled and frustrated by this as Rector Edward Mason and spoke on Radio Bristol a few minutes ago. I was a buskers rep and the person responsible for the Bath Buskers Guide. The rules are very clear. I hope we can get round the table and discuss this and urge the Council to either regulate busking now or enforce noise abuse issues. The Rector is absolutely right and the Council has been too liberal. It should be workable without banning amplifiers completely. It is about noise levels.’

And as far as my comment about the level of amplification given in the Code, Jez says:

‘Quiet amplification is what it says – the volume knob is turned down as some instruments cannot be heard. There could be a limit on the wattage of the amplifier which generally relates to its loudness. Banning them completely in effect bans responsible buskers like myself who need an
amplifier for backing tracks which are a legitimate part of a musical performance. Noise levels can be accurately monitored.’

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=”http://virtualmuseumofbath.com/virtual-museum-of-bath-2012/chapel/#main&#8221; rel=”attachment wp-att-481″><img title=”chapel” alt=”” src=”http://richardwyattblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/chapel.jpg?w=280&#8243; 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=”http://virtualmuseumofbath.com/virtual-museum-of-bath-2012/ralph-allen-signature/#main&#8221; rel=”attachment wp-att-485″><img title=”ralph allen signature” alt=”” src=”http://richardwyattblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/ralph-allen-signature.jpg?w=280&#8243; height=”210″ width=”280″ /></a> Clearly ‘Ralph Allen’

<a href=”http://virtualmuseumofbath.com/virtual-museum-of-bath-2012/richard-nash/#main&#8221; rel=”attachment wp-att-486″><img title=”richard nash” alt=”” src=”http://richardwyattblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/richard-nash.jpg?w=280&#8243; height=”168″ width=”224″ /></a> Look down the list for ‘Jo Wood’

<a href=”http://virtualmuseumofbath.com/virtual-museum-of-bath-2012/patients-report/#main&#8221; rel=”attachment wp-att-483″><img title=”patients report” alt=”” src=”http://richardwyattblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/patients-report.jpg?w=195&#8243; 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=”http://virtualmuseumofbath.com/virtual-museum-of-bath-2012/hospital-badges/#main&#8221; rel=”attachment wp-att-482″><img title=”hospital badges” alt=”” src=”http://richardwyattblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/hospital-badges.jpg?w=195&#8243; 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.

virtualmuseumofbath.com 2012.

Bath’s Green Homes

Bath’s Green Homes

Bath Green Homes Now in its third year, Bath Green Homes’ popular Open Homes Weekend is back on 27 & 28 September, showcasing an exciting range of energy efficient homes in and around Bath.

Bath Green Homes is organised by Transition Bath, Bath Preservation Trust and Bath & North East Somerset Council, and sponsored by Curo and Crest Nicholson.

All the homes are free to visit, although some do require booking, and some are only open on one of the days. Pick up a leaflet map check the website http://www.bathgreenhomes.co.uk or call 01225 477528 for full details and visiting arrangements.

Councillor Paul Crossley (Lib-Dem, Southdown), Leader of the Council, said: “The open homes weekend is a great opportunity to get inspiration for how you could improve your own home.

“Many of the homes have not been open to the public before, so this is a rare chance to see a fantastic variety of measures that can make a home warmer, greener and cheaper to run.”Bath Green Homes

With 18 places to visit ranging from a rented flat showing the low and no cost things you can do, right up to whole house renovations, there is something inspiring for everyone to discover.

Karen Smith rents her 1970s flat (House 17, Saturday only, drop in) and was struggling with high energy bills, due mainly to the electric heating. She said: All the home improvements I’ve made and changes to the way I do things are no cost, low cost or portable, because I live in a rented flat. They are simple, cheap DIY actions anyone can do. It’s helped me keep my fuel bills below £300 a year.

Tim Williamson lives in a Victorian home in Widcombe (House 12, Sunday only, drop-in) and has recently installed external wall insulation. He said “It’s definitely a dryer house now. Before, when you touched the wall, it felt cold, and it often felt damp. As it’s a west facing wall, only one stone think, and in a narrow alley, it never really dried. Now our house is a lot more comfortable!”
Visit the open homes to talk to people who have made their homes more energy efficient, find out about the costs and benefits, and see the results first-hand.

Over the weekend you can also pop into The Bath Green Homes Hub at the Building of Bath Collection on The Paragon to check out the exhibition with a special focus on draught proofing, LED lighting and thermal imaging. Bath & North East Somerset Council Listed Buildings Officers will also be on hand to answer your questions about heritage homes.

If you are unable to attend the Open Homes Weekend, Bath Green Homes has a whole programme of associated events through the autumn including:

· Focus on solid wall Insulation, 15th October, 7pm, BRLSI Queens Square
· Building sustainable homes, 22nd October, 7pm, Ralph Allen Yard
· Improvong the energy efficiency of your home, 20th November, 7pm BRLSI Queens Square.

These events are free to attend although you do need to book.

If you would like free, impartial energy advice about your own home, to find out about grants and finance available to pay for home energy improvements, or to arrange a home energy assessment, call the new B&NES Energy at Home Advice Service 0800 038 5680 or visit http://www.energyathome.org.uk.

Spit roast doggie

Spit roast doggie

The spit roast mockup at No 1

The dog wheel at No 1 Royal Crescent

Have to say l was fascinated by the wooden wheel mounted on the wall of the kitchen at No 1 Royal Crescent when l paid a recent visit.

It is the headquarters of course of Bath Preservation Society but also laid out as a Georgian house with authentically dressed rooms and modelled on the diaries of a retired Irish MP called Henry Sandford who lived there from 1776 until his death 20 years later.

Georgian elegance at No 1

Georgian elegance at No 1

There are some nice touches. The original kitchen – which was laid out in the main house – is now an educational room with a projection screen, boxes of clothes for kids of all ages to try on and where they can meet Reggie the turnspit dog.

It was apparently a big thing in the West Country to use a little dog in a wheel to turn the roasting spit.

The mechanism was an effective but cruel way of cooking your roast in an era when the welfare of animals was rarely considered.

I had been told that elsewhere in the country a weights and pulley system was used to do the same thing.

Whiskey - now stuffed and on display!

Whiskey – now stuffed and on display at Abergavenny Museum!

Whiskey's wheel of misfortune!

Whiskey’s wheel of misfortune!

Imagine my  surprise –  when visiting this year’s Abergavenny Food Festival in South Wales – to come across ‘Whiskey – the Turnspit dog who is on display in the museum at the historic town’s Norman castle.

Here visitors are told that Turnspit dogs were in use until the middle of the 19th century as a tool to save cooks in large households the effort of turning meat on a spit by hand.


Information abut 'The Turnspit' at Abergavenny Museum.

Information abut ‘The Turnspit’ at Abergavenny Museum.

The dog would have been placed in a small wheel connected to the spit and as he ran the spit would be turned.

In order not to overexert a dog with this hot and unpleasant work they were often kept in pairs, so that they could be worked in shifts.

It is believed that this is the origin of the proverb ‘every dog has his day.’

Maybe No 1 Royal Crescent in Bath might consider showing a photograph of ‘Whiskey’ who apparently is the last surviving specimen of a turnspit dog – albeit stuffed.

The breed appears to have died out with the advent of mechanisation in the kitchen.


A Hussar and a park called Henrietta.

A Hussar and a park called Henrietta.

pulteney bridge

Pulteney Bridge and Weir.

Pulteney Bridge – one of Bath’s most iconic architectural set-pieces – was apparently designed to lead to even greater glories.

Its construction across the River Avon opened up the Bathwick estate for the building of what was planned to be one of the most impressive Neoclassical urban set pieces in Britain.

The Laura Place fountain looking down Great Pulteney Street to the Holburne Museum.

The Laura Place fountain looking down Great Pulteney Street to the Holburne Museum.

Great Pulteney Street was intended to form the central spine of a vast geometrical layout of grand streets, squares and circuses.

However, the scheme by Thomas Baldwin to create a whole new town south of the river was hit by financial panic as a result of the French Revolution and the collapse of many banks – including the one funding Baldwin’s grand plans.

Today stubby little side roads like Sunderland and Johnstone Streets indicate where work was brought to a halt.

Peace and solitude in Henrietta Park

Peace and solitude in Henrietta Park

The project had been instigated in the late 18th century by Sir William Johnstone Pulteney on behalf of his heiress wife Frances and then, after her death, on behalf of their daughter, Henrietta Laura Pulteney –  the first Countess of Bath.

Laura’s name lives on in Laura Place – with its centrally place and summer-gushing fountain.

Her mother was due to be immortalised with a vast square named after her – leading off from Sunderland Street. Instead – with bankruptcy cutting off  funds – the land was not built upon.

Water and spectacular plantings.

Water and spectacular plantings.

Instead Henrietta’s name lives on as a much-love seven acre park  laid out and opened to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria of 1897.

Architectural historians may also love it for being a fine example of the original level of the Bathwick estate land before the likes of Baldwin arrived to change the contours.

The terraces of Great Pulteney Street nearby were raised up on extensive vaults above the meadows that once sloped down to the river to form a level surface for the monumental layout.

The park also contains the King George V Memorial Garden with lovely planting arranged around a central pool and fountain.

The memorial stone.

The memorial stone.

A marble inscription – mounted on stone – says Henrietta Park was presented to the City of Bath by Captain Francis Williams Forester of the 3rd Kings Own Hussars.

Henrietta Park

The badly faded park sign.

Apparently, Captain Forester inherited the vast Bathwick Estate in 1891, because he was the great-nephew of Harry George Vane Powlett, 4th Duke of Cleveland (1803-1891).

He was also President of the Bath Association Cricket Club at some time between 1891 and his death in 1944 and he passed some of the Bathwick Estate on to the club, and to other sports clubs in the area.

Another view of the creeper on the fence in front of the memorial stone  in Henrietta Park

The creeper on the fence in front of the memorial stone in Henrietta Park

His gift is recorded on a memorial stone which is badly in need of cleaning and it’s further obstructed from view behind a climber that has spread out on the fence in front of it.

The grounds are beautifully cared for by the Parks Department staff but it is sad to see – as it is elsewhere in the city – the main park sign looking faded and unloved.

The Alice Park sign.

The Alice Park sign.

It’s the same thing at Alice Park – further along the London Road.

A memorial plaque giving the history of Pulteney Bridge and subsequent restorations. Now difficult to read.

A memorial plaque giving the history of Pulteney Bridge and subsequent restorations. Now difficult to read.

I have just become aware recently of so many examples of signs relating to Bath’s history and heritage which are in need of cleaning and restoration.

The Beazer Garden Maze sign down by Pulteney Weir.

The Beazer Garden Maze sign down by Pulteney Weir.

Surely there is nothing wrong with feeling proud about where one lives and the efforts both now and in the past that have gone into delivering and maintaining something which benefits the city and its people.

The fades sign telling the Beau Nash story on what was Popjoy's Restaurant.

The faded sign telling the Beau Nash story on what was Popjoy’s Restaurant.

These signs have lost their ‘pride of place’ – their special prominence in our lives.

Don’t let them fade away.


Cooking the Books!

Cooking the Books!

An invitation to come and taste some rare 18th century recipes is being offered on October 16th at Bath Central Library.

cooking the booksIn an evening presentation entitled ‘Cooking the Books’ you are invited to come and meet Dr Annie Gray – who is the Great British Bake Off’s Food Historian – and from Bath, Dale Ingram who is Head Chef at Sally Lunns.

They will be recreating and interpreting rare 18th century recipes from Bath Library’s archives for you to try.

Tickets are £5.75 each and include the talk and a tasting! The event is part of  the Great Bath Feast – www.greatbathfeast.co.uk

Taking tea at the Abbey!

Taking tea at the Abbey!

Calling all bakers! As part of the Great Bath Feast, Bath Abbey is hosting a bake sale with a difference and inviting people from Mary Berry’s home town to join in.

bath abbey cake bakeOn Saturday 18 October, tables filled with hundreds of cakes, cookies and other fancies will line the Abbey’s north aisle for the Great Bath Bake Sale. It will be the first time that the public will be able to show their support for Footprint, the Abbey’s fundraising appeal driven by the need to save the historic floor from collapse.

Two local food charities, Bath FoodCycle and FareShare, will also be represented and will receive a share of the proceeds. It’s something everyone can get involved in, whether you’re a professional pâtissier, occasionally bake for fun or simply enjoy eating tasty treats and want to support the sale by turning up.

The most significant sponge-based event ever to hit Bath, the Great Bath Bake Sale will have enough cakes, bakes and tempting treats to line the length of an Olympic swimming pool and is sure to appeal to sweet tooth visitors of all ages.bath abbey cake bake

Taking place between 1pm and 4pm, the event will also feature hands-on bread-making workshops for children from Bath’s famous Bertinet Kitchen. Parents and grandparents can keep little ones entertained as they enjoy a cup of tea and cake, and even take a few tasty morsels home to enjoy later!

Laura Brown, Footprint Appeal Director, said: “We’re really excited about the Great Bath Bake Sale. This marks the beginning of our fundraising appeal and we can’t wait to welcome new and old friends to join us for what will be a wonderful family event.”

The Great Bath Bake Sale will leave you feeling full of generosity as well as cake, as all proceeds go towards Bath Abbey’s Footprint Project, plus charities FareShare and FoodCycle. Footprint is a £19.3 million project which aims to carry out essential repairs to the Abbey’s collapsing floor, install a new eco-friendly heating system using Bath’s unique hot springs, create new spaces and facilities, and record and interpret the Abbey’s 1,200 years of history.

Laura, added: “Bath Abbey is in desperate need of repair and restoration. People have been walking on the stone floor for hundreds of years and we need to carry out some important conservation work to ensure the Abbey will still be standing here for hundreds if not thousands of years to come. And what better way to bring people together in aid of this good cause, than over a slice of cake?”

So if you’ve been inspired by the Great British Bake Off, come along and showcase your baking skills “Mary Berry style”. Donations of cakes, breads or any baked goods will be gratefully received on the morning of the sale or just drop by to enjoy a selection of tasty treats!

For more information about The Great Bath Bake Sale visit http://www.bathabbey.org/greatbathbakesale or visit http://www.bathabbey.org/footprint/your-support to donate to the Footprint project. You can tweet to show your support using the hashtag #GreatBathBakeSale.