I live quite close to the Georgian city of Bath here in the UK and like most people who live near tourist cities and attractions, I tend to take the place for granted. In fact, nowadays, I usually avoid it like the plague thanks to the sheer volume of traffic, the traffic restrictions, and the car parking charges. That said, whenever I do venture in, I always find something new and beautiful to appreciate about the city.
Aside from its architectural and historic interest, Bath offers many interesting possibilities for an author. The ghost walks and tours have provided many an entertaining evening and are one of the first things we always do when we have non-local friends to stay. We’ve actually had a couple of scary encounters during these walks, but that’s for another blog another time 🙂
On a trip into Bath this week for a dentist visit, I had some time to spare before the appointment so, armed with my trusty phone camera, went off to explore. On this trip it was the trees of Bath that held a certain fascination for me, and I came away with ideas for new stories in the process.
First stop, the Circus. These London plane trees, planted in the 1820s and said to be the most photographed trees in Bath, can be found in the central grassed off area of the Circus, and are surrounded by a circle of townhouses. They’ve so far survived the weather, pollution, and even the Bath Blitz during the Second World War, when a number of nearby townhouses were destroyed (since rebuilt). The Circus is considered a fine example of Georgian architecture, designed by John Wood, the Elder, in the 1760s. Apparently, John Wood was influenced by the knowledge that since Bath was a major centre for Druidism, the Circus design should reflect that of Stonehenge in nearby Wiltshire, which was thought to be a Druid temple back in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The old hanging tree can be found in the heart of the city in Abbey Green, a Georgian square by the Roman Baths and the Abbey. As the name suggests, this is where public executions would take place. Sadly, my photo was too dark to post here, but you can see a photo of the tree at this link.The tree is one of the oldest in Bath, said to have been planted in 1793. Mary Shelley wrote most of her masterpiece and finished the final draft of Frankenstein while living in this square, and a pub opposite is said to be haunted, most likely by some of those poor unfortunate souls who met their demise by the old tree!
On the way back to my car, post dentist, I walked past these beautiful blossom trees lining the edge of the Royal Victoria Park. Landscaped in the late 1880s, the park stretches over ten acres and is filled with the most beautiful trees, shrubs, and flowers. Despite that it was named for her, it is said that Queen Victoria hated the city of Bath, allegedly because she overheard someone describing her in a less than complimentary manner! Regardless, those blossoms are pretty stunning. Don’t you just love spring?
Thanks to my spare half an hour in Bath, you might just find the old trees of Bath, and their history, making their way into future Faye Avalon stories. Watch this space!