Visit The Circus & Assembly Rooms
Originally called King’s Circus, the circular formation of Georgian townhouses was designed by architect John Wood, the Elder, with construction beginning in 1754, sadly he would not oversee much of the project, but his thankfully his son took over until its completion in 1768. The circle is made up by three curved segments, each featuring Grade I listed houses and it is said that the Circus is joined to the neighbouring Royal Crescent by a ley-line, their design representing the sun and the moon.
On closer inspection of the detailed stonework, you will find many hidden emblems such as serpents, acorns, and nautical symbols. Known to be a fan of the druids, Wood, the Elder was also convinced that Bath was once the centre of Druid activity in Britain, thus designing the Circus with the same diameter as Stonehenge in nearby Wiltshire. The iconic, or symbolic landmark, has also played home to several famous faces, such as artist Thomas Gainsborough and Hollywood actor Nicholas Cage.
A short walk through the Circus will lead you towards Bath’s Assembly Rooms, also designed by John Wood the Younger with their purpose to serve as a place for dancing and music. On completion in 1771 they were hailed as ‘the most noble and elegant of any in the kingdom’. The grand building was the social hub of the city in the 18th century and each room held its own purpose, but have always remained equally adaptable for other functions.
From dancing to card playing, tea drinking and conversation, guests would gather in the evening for balls, concerts and other social functions. This elegant meeting place has attracted locals and visitors from across the country for many years and continues as a forum for private functions and events. The exquisite setting has featured in popular literature and celebrated on the silver screen, Charles Dickens even read here, but the Assembly Rooms haven’t always had a glittering history; bombed to a mere shell during previous wars.
After an extensive restoration in the 1970s, the grandeur of the building became evident once more and has fallen to the ownership of the National Trust. The Assembly Rooms are open daily from 10.30am – 6pm and are accompanied by a café and gift shop located on the ground floor. The Fashion Museum can also be accessed via the lower ground floor.