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History of Royal Crescent

Original Owner:
Benet Garrard, 6th Baronet – Born in England in 1704 and Died 1767

Additional Residents:
Dr. Henry Gervis – Born 1838 and Died 1924
Elizabeth Montagu – Born 1718 and Died 1800 – neighbour to the existing hotel
John Wood – Born in Bath, UK in 1728 and Died in Bath, UK 1781 – architect of the crescent

The Story of Royal Crescent

As you step through the elegant Georgian doors of The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, it is immediately clear why this historic hotel has established a reputation for impeccable luxury and service. Meticulously designed in the 18th century, this Georgian building and its iconic location have played a significant role in the culture and social heritage of Bath, playing host to a multitude of distinguished visitors over the years, including artists, actors, authors, architects, and astronomers, as well as members of the royal family such as the Duke of York.  

In the 1770s, John Wood the Younger – son of the esteemed architect who designed the Circus in Bath – was determined to continue his father’s legacy. His vision was to design a majestic façade built in a sweeping curve with absolute uniformity, and his desire was to create a unique and unforgettable impression of grandeur. Anybody who has stood in front of the magnificent Royal Crescent will know that John Wood triumphantly achieved this ambitious vision. 

Ever since its completion in 1775, the Royal Crescent quickly established itself as Bath’s most desirable address, and its grand townhouses were largely inhabited by the newly emerging middle classes who were drawn to Bath’s elegance and allure. It is thought that, during the heyday of the 18th century, the centre buildings of the crescent, now The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, were host to debauched gambling sessions in which fortunes were recklessly squandered and rivals were challenged to dawn assignations on nearby Claverton Down – sometimes with fatal consequences.

One of the most distinguished long-term inhabitants of this Royal Crescent townhouse was Elizabeth Montagu, the original ‘bluestocking’. Montagu became known for her populous literary soirées where such usual distractions as card playing and strong drink were forbidden; instead, erudite discussion on subjects such as politics, art, and astronomy were encouraged. This active forum for intellectually curious people attracted the brightest talents of the age, including Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, Joshua Reynolds, Hannah More and Fanny Burney. During this literary heyday, many great writers frequented the city, including Jane Austen, who lived in Bath from 1801 and wrote fondly about the solace she derived from walks in the fields below the Royal Crescent. 

Today, this iconic architectural landmark draws crowds from far and wide, as the Georgian grandeur of the Royal Crescent still allures and enchants visitors from across the globe. And at the very centre of this elegant row of townhouses is The Royal Crescent Hotel – lovingly restored in 1978 by John Tham – who has ensured the inherent splendour of this building will be savoured by all those who walk through its doors.