Hidden Gem in Bath
In addition to wandering the charming streets of Bath where you can gaze upon magnificent Georgian buildings, tourists can also enjoy a number of great museums in the city. The most famous museum is the Roman Baths museum where you can see one of the city's hot springs and the remains of the Roman religious spa that was built over it. Literary fans may also be familiar with Bath's Jane Austen Centre where you can learn about one of Bath's most famous residents. There are however many other delightful museums in the city which are worth considering during a visit. One of my favourites is tucked away in the peaceful cobbled street shown below, a backstreet in the city centre which sees very few people:
This quiet street was once home to Bath's first purpose-built theatre, St James Theatre, which opened in 1750. It soon became the first theatre outside of London to be granted a Royal Patent allowing it to be called the Theatre Royal. In the late 1700s this street would have been bustling with theatre-goers and passers-by hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the theatre's famous actors. The renowned Sarah Siddons started her career at this theatre, she is said to be the finest Tragic Actress of all time.
When the theatre moved to its current location in Bath, the old theatre was converted into a Catholic Chapel. In the 1860s the congregation moved to a new Catholic church and from 1865 the building became a Masonic Hall which it is still today. It is said to be one of the oldest Masonic Halls in the country and houses a collection of rare Masonic artefacts. Unbeknown to many it is possible to do a guided tour of the building where you can get a fascinating insight into the history of the building's use and get a rare insight into the history of the Masonic Lodge and the Freemasons. It is certainly a Hidden Gem, one of Bath's unique and unusual museums and without an insider you probably would not even know it existed!
I am delighted to announce that guided tours of the building have now resumed since that terrible "c" word (aka "covid"!) The tours are not run by me, they are run by the Masonic Hall. They are not daily, at the time of writing they were available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at 11am and 2:30pm and on Saturdays at 2:30pm. Do check their website first for the latest times. Tickets are available on the door (or in advance) and the tour takes 1 hour. For more information please visit their website here.
For visitors interested in knitting ... there are also a couple of wool stores hidden down this cobbled street! The street is called Old Orchard Street and is just 5 minutes walk from the Bath Abbey.