Bath is justly famous worldwide for its history and heritage. It is twice inscribed as a UN World Heritage Site of outstanding international importance because of its well-known Roman baths and other remains, as well as outstanding Georgian buildings and streets. It has an historic spa which was recently redeveloped.
When it comes to mapping the history of the city, it is well depicted on a number of maps at various points in time, including special Ordnance Survey editions covering the Roman and Georgian periods. But its medieval and early-modern history is much less well-known or mapped. The collections in the city have maps from the 17th century but they lack accurate detail. However, the city and St John’s Hospital own large amounts of property in the historic core of Bath, and the collection of deeds relating to them has been designated by the Arts Council as being of national importance. Using this information, it’s possible to reconstruct how the city looked before its Georgian redevelopment.
Dr. John Wroughton published books on Stuart Bath and the Civil War, and The Survey of Old Bath, led by Elizabeth Holland and Mike Chapman, published a number of detailed reports on selected areas of the city as recorded in property leases. Mike Chapman, an army-trained cartographer, included in their booklets a number of maps of portions of the old city and he recently completed a map of the whole city in 1641 based on the measured drawings from the deeds and leases as well as a text survey conducted for the council at that time.
The History of Bath Research Group is now working with the Historic Towns Trust to use this research. We’re producing a multi-period map of the city, as with other T&C Historical Maps, but the publication will include a special map of Stuart Bath showing how it relates to the Roman, Georgian and modern city layouts. There’s a wealth of material which will be mapped and this largely unknown period of the city’s history will be featured and explained.
In order to fund the production of the map we’ve had to raise the necessary finance locally and we are extremely grateful to all who have contributed so generously to enable us to proceed. There has been marvellous local support. One of our aims is that the project leads on to the creation of educational material, and we’re going to make the map accessible to Key Stage 2 students in schools, along with supporting material for their teachers.
As for illustrations to include on the map reverse, the Bath & North East Somerset Council owns the Victoria Art Gallery which has thousands of drawings of prints and paintings of many aspects of the city since the 17th century and they have very generously given us permission to search the detailed illustrated catalogues for suitable images for reproduction on the reverse of the map. Over 1400 watercolours have been examined so far and we hope to be able to use some less well known views as illustrations.
The map is scheduled for publication in 2024.