Royal Crescent
The Royal Crescent is a residential road of 30 houses, laid out in a crescent, in the city of Bath, England. Designed by the architect John Wood the Younger and built between 1767 and 1774, it is among the greatest examples of Georgian architecture to be found in the United Kingdom and is a grade I listed building. The houses have been home to various notable people for over 200 years. Changes have been made to the interiors; however, the facade remains much as it was when it was built. The Royal Crescent now include a hotel and museum with some of the houses being converted into flats and offices. The buildings have been used as a location for several films and television programmes.

Design and construction
It was originally called just The Crescent and the adjective Royal was added at the end of the 18th century after Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany had lived at numbers 1 and 16. Wood designed the great curved façade of what appears to be about 30 three storey houses with Ionic columns on a rusticated ground floor. The columns are 30 inches (76 cm) in diameter reaching 47 feet (14.3 m) and there are 114 in total, each with an entablature 5 feet (1.5 m) deep. The central house has two sets of coupled columns. Each purchaser bought a certain length of the façade, and then employed their own architect to build a house to their own specifications behind it; hence what appears to be two houses is sometimes one. This system of town planning is betrayed at the rear of the crescent: while the front is completely uniform and symmetrical, the rear is a mixture of differing roof heights, juxtapositions and fenestration. This " Queen Anne fronts and Mary-Anne backs" architecture occurs repeatedly in Bath. In front of the Royal Crescent is a Ha-ha, a trench on which the inner side of which is vertical and faced with stone, with the outer face sloped and turfed, making the trench, in effect, a sunken fence or retaining wall. The ha-ha is designed not to interrupt the view from Royal Victoria Park, and to be invisible until seen from close by. It is not known whether it was contemporary with the building of the Royal Crescent, however it is known that when it was first built it was deeper than it is at present. The railings between the crescent and the lawn are included in the Buildings at Risk Register produced by English Heritage.

Masonic links
Together with his father John Wood, the Elder, John Wood the Younger was interested in occult and masonic symbolism; perhaps their creation of largest scale was their joint design of the Royal Crescent and the nearby Circus (originally called "the King's Circus"), which from the air can be observed to be a giant circle and crescent, symbolising the soleil-lune, the sun and moon. The Circus, along with Gay Street and Queen Square, forms a key shape which is also a masonic symbol.

Notable residents

Eighteenth century
The first resident of number 1 was Thomas Brock, who was the brother in law of John Wood the Younger. and town clerk of Chester. After his death in 1785 the lease on number 1 was taken by Marie-Louise, princesse de Lamballe the lady in waiting to Queen Marie Antoinette. A few years later in 1796 it became home to Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany. Christopher Anstey a well known writer of his time, was resident in number 4 from 1770 until 1805, although the plaque to him is placed on number 5. Jean Baptiste, Vicomte du Barre took over number 8 in 1778 and hosted parties and gambling. He died in a duel on Claverton Down and is buried in the churchyard at the Church of St Nicholas in Bathampton. From 1768 to 1774 number 9 was home to Philip Thicknesse a soldier of fortune. Number 11 was home to the family of Thomas Linley a singing-master and conductor of the concerts from 1771. His second daughter Elizabeth Ann Linley, a singer in her own right, eloped with the playwright and poet Richard Brinsley Sheridan. The centre house of the crescent was used as a residence and to host blue stocking events by Elizabeth Montagu.

Nineteenth century
In the nineteenth century the popularity of the Crescent and Bath in general diminished until 'taking the waters' at the Roman Baths once again became popular. Amongst the residents of Royal Crescent were the electoral reformer Francis Burdett who lived at number 16 from 1814 to 1822 and his daughter Angela Burdett-Coutts, 1st Baroness Burdett-Coutts. The retired Admiral William Hargood lived at number 9 from 1834 until 1839 and in 1866 the same house was home to Edward Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton. The jurist and explorer Thomas Falconer briefly lived at number 18 before his death in 1882. A few years later the next door house at number 17 became home to Isaac Pitman developed the most widely used system of shorthand, known now as Pitman shorthand.

Twentieth century
The tradition of distinguished gentlemen retiring to the crescent continued into the 20th century when the English professor George Saintsbury”Ž took up residence at number 1A in 1916. During World War II bomb damage occurred, with the most serious effect being the gutting of number 2 and number 17 by incendiary bombs. During the century many of the houses which had been the residence of a single family with maids or other staff were divided into flats and occasionally offices. In the 1970s one resident Miss Wellesley-Colley painted her front door at number 22 yellow instead of the traditional white. The city council issued a notice insisting it should be repainted. A court case ensued which resulted in the Secretary of State for the Environment declaring that the door could remain yellow. Other proposals for change and development including floodlighting and a swimming pool have been defeated.

Current use
The houses in the Crescent are a mixture of tenures " most are privately owned but a substantial minority of the property is owned by a housing association. Number 1 Royal Crescent is a museum, maintained by the Bath Preservation Trust, which illustrates how wealthy owners of the period might have furnished such a house. It was purchased in 1967 by Major Bernard Cayzer and donated to the trust with money to restore and furnish it. Number 16 became a guest house in 1950. In 1971 it was combined with number 15 to become the Royal Crescent Hotel occupying the central properties of the Crescent. It was sold in 1978 to John Tham the chairman of the London Sloane Club and restored. Royal Victoria Park near the Crescent is a location for the launch of hot air balloons. Launches take place in summer, typically early morning and late evening. For many years residents had to put up with tour buses passing their houses every few minutes during the summer. However, the road has now been closed to coaches and buses.

Film and television
In 1965 the black comedy The Wrong Box (1966) used the Royal Crescent extensively as a location. The 1965 film Catch Us If You Can also had a sequence filmed outside the crescent and in one of its houses. It was thought by some that Oliver! (1968) used the Crescent for the 'Who Will Buy' sequence - this was, however, filmed on a massive set at Shepperton Studios. In 2003, Time Team (S10EP7) dug the Royal Crescent in search of a Roman cemetery and the Fosse Way. The remains of a Roman wall were found behind the crescent and evidence of possible Iron and Bronze Age settlement on the lawn in front. In 2007 TV edition of Persuasion, there were considerable scenes at the Royal Crescent, where the Elliot family supposedly were living while they were in Bath. The Royal Crescent was also featured in the 2008 film, The Duchess . The heroine of BBC1 archaeology thriller Bonekickers lived in the Crescent.

Building Activity

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