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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 residence.

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 page.

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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