by Janis / 0 comments - Orginally published:19th July 2022

Delight in Georgian life above and below stairs

The captivating No.1 Royal Crescent is located at the eastern end of the sweeping, majestic grand terrace in Bath. There are 30 magnificent Georgian townhouses standing proudly shoulder to shoulder around the horseshoe crescent. They are such a spectacular showcase for Georgian architecture and one reason we were inspired to visit Bath.

When you stop and admire the Royal Crescent, you can just imagine the well-to-do residents promenading around the splendid crescent in their finery.

The Royal Crescent is so synonymous with the UNESCO historic city of Bath that it’s a ‘must visit’ on your Bath itinerary. Along with the fascinating tour of No1. Royal Crescent.

Pre-booking your tour of No.1 Royal Crescent is advisable as there are only a limited number of walk-ins each day.

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The historic Georgian Royal Crescent in Bath, as seen from the lawns that spread out in front of it.
The Royal Crescent

The Royal Crescent was designed by the architect John Wood, the Younger; it was built of Bath stone and erected between 1767 and 1774. This fine and imposing row of Georgian terrace houses is now a Grade 1 listed building.

It’s important to note that during the period in which Georgian Bath was being built, it was largely with proceeds from the British Slave Trade. It is a meaningful and important part of our history and should be remembered.

Where is No.1 Royal Crescent?

How to get to No.1 Royal Crescent

- By Train
The central railway station in Bath is Bath Spa, 1 mile away (around a 20-minute walk). A high-speed service runs from London Paddington.

- On Foot
If you are in the city, head to Royal Crescent and on the eastern corner is No.1.

- By bus or Coach
Arrival by coach or bus to the city, you will be dropped off at Bath bus station, which is a twenty-minute walk to No.1 Royal Crescent. National Express run a regular service from London Victoria. There are various bus routes in Bath run by First Buses, which will drop you nearby.

- By Car
If you are arriving by car, the nearest car park is Charlotte Street. There are many central car parks in Bath, alternatively, you can use the Park and Ride facility.

Our tour of No.1 Royal Crescent

A fly on the wall of Georgian life

No.1 Royal Crescent is owned and managed by the Bath Preservation Trust. They have transformed this majestic townhouse into an incredible fly-on-the-wall experience.

The beautiful house has been decorated, styled, and furnished to reflect the lives of those living upstairs and downstairs during the late 18th century between 1776 and 1796.

A multimedia presentation of the wall of the Withdrawing Room of Number 1 Royal Crescent, Bath
The story unfolds in the Withdrawing Room

A new captivating and immersive experience of the ‘Georgians at home in Bath’ has been thoughtfully designed. Throughout the museum at No.1 Royal Crescent, you are guided through the Georgian family home, earwigging into the family’s trials and tribulations as you stroll from room to room.

No.1 Royal Crescent is brought to life through sight and sound. In each room you enter, there are so many tiny little details which really make the tour an enjoyable experience.

A multimedia presentation in the dining room of number one royal crescent, bath
Listening to the No.1 Royal Crescent residents
The Georgian family voices you get to hear throughout the townhouse were of a particular social standing. They would leave their country estates during the warmer months and live in cities like Bath. This would enable them to mix with similar folk and frequent many parties, ensuring they would find appropriate suitors for their children.

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No.1 Royal Crescent Dining Room

A very formal affair
The first room on the tour of No.1 Royal Crescent is the formal Dining Room. In the evenings, the dining room was used for entertaining guests, and the elaborate choice of crockery and silverware was meticulously selected along with the splendid cuisine.
The dining room table laid out for breakfast in a typical Georgian style
The Dining Room

In the museum today the dining room is laid for breakfast. You are free to wander around the dining room at your leisure, appreciating the finer things in life during the late 18th-century. The items of food that we take for granted today were often only experienced by the wealthy, particularly sugar.

The highlight of a Georgian dinner was the dessert, especially made with sugar; sugar sculptures would often be made to portray the family's wealth.

A place setting at the breakfast table in number one royal crescent bath
Amelia, the mother of the household
Ensure you stay in the dining room to listen to the local family discussing their day ahead. You’ll gain an understanding of the background of each family member, which is brought to life as you wend your way through No1. Royal Crescent.

If you're intrigued to visit the historic cities of Bath and Bristol, then why not check out Lonely Planet's pocket travel guide. Full of helpful advice, interesting facts and time-saving tips.

You can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old paperback.

Off to the Parlour

Then a Gentlemen’s Retreat

Opposite the elegant dining room is the Parlour and a little less formal.

The tranquil Parlour could be used for various everyday activities, from an informal cup of tea with the housekeeper to discuss day-to-day entertaining to utilising it as a family room.

The parlour was often used by the head of the household to catch up on business matters, letter writing and a peaceful space for daily reading.

A small table within the parlour of number one royal crescent set for afternoon tea.
Tea in the Parlour
A georgian writing bureau within the parlour of number one royal crescent
Bureau bookcase

The following charming room we visit on the No.1 Royal Crescent tour is the ‘Gentleman’s Retreat’, yes, you guessed it, ‘men only’.

The possessions in this private room or study would often reflect the interest and activities that the head of the household undertook. Whether it’s architecture, travel, or the natural world. I especially liked the globe as I’ve collected a few myself.

In the Gentleman’s Retreat, you can listen to the unfolding story of the eldest son of the household. He will eventually inherit the family estate.

A small table and two chairs in the gentleman’s retreat with its bookcases and articles of business.
The Gentleman’s Retreat
The family’s heir was often held in high esteem, even though his outdoor pursuits may not have always been favourable.

Tourist Information

If you’re tempted to visit the magnificent city of Bath and explore its ancient streets, take a look at the ‘Visit Bath’ official website.

Visiting the lady’s boudoir

It’s not all manicured perfection

We venture further up through the Georgian house, admiring the detailed architrave and subtle lighting. Our next stop is to the lady’s bedchamber.

The lady’s bedroom was her inner sanctum, and usually, the lady of the house would have a dedicated Lady’s Maid.

The Lady’s Maid was a very discreet job as she would look after her mistress’s day-to-day dressing and undressing and often know her personal business.

The furniture fitting for a ladies bedchamber in georgian england
The lady’s bedroom
A small four-poster bed with matching chintz drapes, surrounds and bedcovers popular with ladies in georgian times
Elegant bed the lady’s bedchamber

During the Georgian period, the ladies looked elegant and beautiful in their finery. However, this often came at a cost due to their lead-based make-up and the scented wax decorative hairstyles that attracted nits.

It was all pomp and grandeur, well, not for the ladies anyway.

Where to stay in Bath

- The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa – For an indulgent treat this beautiful 5-star hotel is located along Bath’s iconic Royal Crescent. Full of exquisite 18th- century décor and the luxuries pf a modern-day spa.
- Hotel Indigo - Bath, an IHG Hotel - This stylish hotel is located in the heart of Bath and just a five-minute walk to the Roman Baths and Abbey. The rooms are beautifully designed with a contemporary feel

No.1 Royal Crescent Withdrawing Room

The ultimate in Georgian luxury

The next room we visit on the No.1 Royal Crescent tour is the Withdrawing Room. This room would have been the height of Georgian luxury and elegance.

The ladies of the house would withdraw to this room after dinner and partake in tea, which was extremely expensive at the time.

The lounge area known as the Withdrawing Room in georgian times, with a harpsichord, a card table and sofas, where the family would come after diner.
The Withdrawing Room

The Withdrawing Room is decorated sophisticatedly and very feminine; no expense would have been spared on the exquisite décor and the finer things in life.

Once the men had finished discussing business in the dining room, they would join the ladies to listen to them playing the harpsichord and often play cards.

The Gentleman’s Bedroom

Stylishly understated

The Gentleman’s Bedroom was often a simpler affair than that of the lady’s boudoir, although just as stylish in a masculine way.

The wealthy homeowners would often seek out high-regarded furniture makers in the city and commission various pieces of furniture for their bedrooms. They would have included a large chest of drawers, a medical cabinet, and a beautifully crafted shaving stand.

An elegant marble fireplace and a four-poster bed with red drapes in the Gentleman’s Bedroom on Number 1 Royal Crescent in Bath
The Gentleman’s Bedroom
Don’t wander off too quickly as the fascinating story of Georgian family life continues to unfold.

Join a Bath walking tour

During this fascinating 2-hour walking tour of Bath, you’ll discover the many delights of the ancient city and its magnificent Georgian architecture. Stroll around the Circus and the Royal Crescent and enjoy the charm of Pulteney Bridge.

If you select the option to include the visit to the breath-taking Roman Baths, then you’re in for a treat.

Exploring below stairs at No.1 Royal Crescent

The Georgian Kitchen & Scullery
I really can’t imagine that a bustling Georgian kitchen was a pleasant place to work. Toiling in searing heat from noon to night within enclosed confined spaces. However, it was astounding how the cooks managed to conjure up such wonderful feasts.
The period georgian kitchen of number one royal crescent
No.1 Royal Crescent kitchen

No.1 Royal Crescent entertained guests regularly; therefore, the cooks’ dishes needed to be very creative. When it came to the desserts, they had to be perfect.

Working next to open fires, boiling pans, and using the most basic tools must have been a huge challenge. All dishes had to be freshly prepared, and in addition to that, the food needed to arrive at the Dining Room table on time.

A rare Bath dresser laid out as it would have been during georgian times in the kitchen of number one royal crescent, bath
A rare Bath dresser in the Georgian Kitchen

Next to the busy hot kitchen was the Scullery. The scullery would have been run by a scullery maid, and unfortunately, their role was the lowest of all the servants; they would work long hours for a pittance of a wage.

Usually, the scullery maid was a young girl; her job was to ensure everything was clean and tidy within the kitchen and scullery. Her duties were to wash the household laundry, scrub the floors, clean pots and pans, clear away old food, and a general skivvy around the basement.

The scullery of number one royal crescent with its hard stone floor and laundry essentials
The Scullery
Also, she was not allowed to eat with the other servants in the Servants’ Hall.

Visiting the Housekeeper’s Room

Then onto the Servants’ Hall

The last couple of rooms we visit below stairs are the Housekeeper’s Room and the Servant’s Hall.

The Housekeeper was the most important female servant in the household. She would have usually been mature in her years and due to her status, would have had her own room, which was a huge privilege.

The role she performed was invaluable to her mistress.

The Housekeeper’s room was rudimentary compared to the rooms above stairs; however, it offered a high level of privacy and comfort. The room would have had a writing desk, personal store cupboards a simple dining table. This meant the housekeeper would dine in her own room and not in the Servants’ Hall.

The small and simple Housekeeper’s Room in number one royal crescent
Housekeeper’s Room

Our final stop during our visit to No.1 Royal Crescent was to the relatively large Servants’ Hall.

The Servants’ Hall would have been where the servants would have eaten together, and on rare occasions they had time, they would exchange stories with each other.

A pair of simple plates on the table in the Servants’ Hall of number one royal crescent, bath
Servants’ Hall table

This room would have also stored a ready supply of ale as beer was the main drink due to untreated water. No.1 Royal Crescent obtained their water from a well, so it wasn’t surprising they had their own domestic brew house.

There were also rules within the Servants’ Hall, and failure to comply would have led to a fine.

A list of the Rules of the Servants’ Hall mounted on a the wall within number one royal crescent, bath
Rules of the Servants’ Hall

Often larger Georgian homes or estates would have employed a Butler, Footman, and a Valet. No.1 Royal Crescent probably only had one male servant to cover all three roles.

We are now at the end of our tour of No.1 Royal Crescent. It has been such a fantastic insight into a wealthy Georgian household and their hard-working servants below.

We have created a little YouTube video of our visit to No.1 Royal Crescent - why not check it out?

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This article was produced in partnership with Visit Bath in exchange for an honest review and an account of our personal experiences.

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