Comments, Questions and Answers.
Q: I am writing regarding the Hon Charles Hamilton, youngest son of
the 6th Earl of Abercorn, who created the celebrated and recently
restored 18th c landscape garden Painshill at Cobham Surrey between
1738 and 1773. He retired to Bath in 1773 leasing both 14 The
Royal Crescent and Hope House Lansdown Road until his death in
1786 hoping to be able to link the two gardens. He
married Frances Calvert of Bath in 1774 and died in 1786 and was buried
in Bath Abbey. Whilst in Bath he continued to garden and assist
friends particularly the Shelbournes at Bowood and is said to have
inspired the gardening of his great nephew, William Beckford. I
recently visited Bath and was surprised there was no plaque to mark his
A: A Mayor of Bath’s Guide wrote a series of articles about the
plaques, the first being published in the Guide’s newsletter
“Guidelines” dated May 1990. In his introduction he wrote:
“Throughout the city, there are between fifty and sixty mural tablets
on various buildings referring to people who had some association
there. Many of the people are well known; others not so well known.
Indeed too, we may question the basis for commemoration and perhaps why
there are some notable omissions.”
We know that a number of the plaques are in the wrong place and that
some were lost during the bombing of Bath in World War II. Those that
remain are in dire need of a clean up.
In the current financial climate if may be difficult to achieve even
the latter. I have added the Hon Charles Hamilton to the ‘no plaques – yet
’ page on the website which
may (eventually) form the basis for a list of new plaques.
Q: My grandchildren keep asking me about aspects of family history,
often prompted by school projects. In the Blitz my uncle and
family were killed in a direct hit. The Yesterday film Forgotten
Blitz makes for discussion, and I would have liked to show the listing
of my folk on the war memorial. I hoped to find a picture
somewhere, prompted by the pictures shown in the film of the band
playing there but I was disappointed not to find one on your
site. Is there somewhere a picture online?
A: There are now pages illustrating the commemorative tablets on the
war memorial. It is difficult to photograph the World War I tablets
effectively, so some names will be difficult to read. The pages link
from the War Memorial
Q: I have been looking at images
of the plaque at 55 Great Pulteney Street, which states that Napoleon
III stayed there in 1846. Another reference states it was only towards
the end of his life. I would be grateful to know if the
1846 date is correct because one of my relatives was living there at
the time. He was Charles Hunnings Wilkinson.
A: According to Michael Forsyth's "Bath" (Pevsner Architectural Guides,
Yale University Press, 2003), p182:
"Napoleon III stayed for six weeks in 1846 at the Sydney Hotel, now the
Holburne Museum, and after 1871 often at No. 55."
It is well known that many of the heritage plaques erected in Bath in
or soon after 1898 are incorrectly sited and/or contain incorrect
information (as it appears does the plaque on 55 Great Pulteney
Street). Although there is considerable interest in correcting and
resiting the plaques, the costs involved (especially in terms of
gaining Listed Building Planning Consent) means that this is unlikely
to happen in the foreseeable future.
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