Blog Archive

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The end of May at the end of May, Bath Time - How dirty are we today?

The end of May at the end of May

Good bye Theresa. Mrs May announced towards the end of May that she would step down on June 7th, just a few days short of her 3 year anniversary as Prime Minister. 

Who thought she would last three years?

Few people, myself included, ever thought she would last that long as UK Supremo. It is a testament to her tenacity that she managed three years. But her tenacity was also her downfall. By spending 3 years refusing to compromise on her beloved Brexit deal, instead pandering to a noisy minority at the right of her party, she has damaged her party by making the people think three years have been wasted. 

Having said that, it is quite likely that her replacement will be no better.

It's about time that UK politics changed so that coalitions were formed out in the open by elected parties with shared objectives. Instead we have hidden coalitions in our two major parties and as a result they are unable to clearly state what they stand for. The electorate has lost trust in them. This is very bad for politics.

The Euro elections showed that the people can change this by deserting the two big parties and voting for the smaller parties who are crystal clear about what they stand for. If the people repeat this in a General Election, UK politics may change forever. And this could be a good thing.

Bath Time - How dirty are we today?

We recently spent 24 hours in the beautiful city of Bath as tourists admiring its beauty. The highlight (apart from some amazing food at Clayton's) was undoubtedly the architecture and in particular the rows and crescents of terraced houses in golden Bath stone.

We stayed in the broad and majestic Great Pulteney Street which leads to Pulteney Bridge, one of apparently only 4 remaining bridges in the world with shops on each side. Two other well known ones are the Ponte Vecchio in Florence and the Rialto in Venice. The Italian bridges are more beautiful to my eyes but Pulteney Bridge retains much charm and leads to the old city centre with its famous Roman Baths and Abbey.

Pulteney Bridge

The oldest standing house dating back to 1482 is apparently Sally Lunn's, famous for her very large buns (Sally Lunn's Buns). I'm not making any of this up. The house is a huge tourist attraction and you can eat there or take some buns away with you.

Sally Lunn's - famous for her large buns
Of the architecture, I was particularly impressed by The Circus which is a round square, Lansdown Crescent which overlooks the city, and the world famous Royal Crescent. We visited No 1, Royal Crescent. It is now a museum and has been restored to its original state in the late 18th century when the houses were relatively new.

The Circus, Bath
Lansdown Crescent, Bath
Royal Crescent, Bath
Henry Sandford lived at It No 1 Royal Crescent from 1776 until his death in 1796. We know he was an Irish MP, a big landowner and it is thought that he moved here for health reasons. It is likely that six servants lived in the house working for four members of the Sanford family.

No 1 Royal Crescent, the home of Henry Sandford from 1776-1796

We visited the bedrooms, parlours, entertaining rooms and servants quarters which have all been restored using original furniture where possible. I found a number of things of particular interest:

In the Dining Room, a replica of a lavish feast is laid out. At that time pineapples were delicacies only affordable by the very rich. Being seen with one was an instant indicator of wealth. A single pineapple could cost the equivalent of £5,000 today. In fact, the fruit was so desirable and rare that hosts often rented a pineapple for the night to show off to fellow party-goers. Fresh fruit and sweet dishes were also very expensive delicacies.

Dining Room - note the pineapple and the decorated screen
The ornate screen at the back of the room hid the chamber pot where guests could relieve themselves at their leisure. The smell was not an issue as people didn't take baths and showers as they hadn't yet been invented - certainly there was nothing that could be plumbed into a house yet. Everyone was pretty stinky back then.

The Withdrawing Room was where the ladies took tea after dinner. The tea caddy would be locked (you can see it on the table) as the price of tea of very high and servants would often try to steal it. One trick was to 'accidentally' spill the tea cup on the carpet and then scoop up the tea leaves which could be sold.

The Withdrawing Room with tea (and caddy) laid out
The Lady's Bedroom had a secret door through which her maid could come and go to assist with her toilette. Next to the bed is the wigstand and on the chest of drawers you can see the white ivory wigscratcher. This was used to remove fleas, lice and other vermin which used to nest in wigs, making for very uncomfortable itchy heads!

The wigscratcher is the white stick at the front of the chest
The wig was placed on the stand next to the lady's bed
I was intrigued and impressed by this superbly presented look back 250 years. We have come so far since then and it makes me feel so lucky to be living in the 21st century and not back then.

But I imagine the Sandfords and their contemporaries must also have felt privileged to have lived when they did and not 250 years earlier!

What will people be saying about us and the way we live in 100 or in 250 years from now? Will they consider us filthy? Will they be amazed by what we eat? Will they be full of disdain for the way we mis-treat our environment?

No comments:

Post a Comment