Bath Preservation Trust
The Bath Preservation Trust is an independent charity based in Bath, Somerset, England which exists to safeguard the historic character of the city of Bath, the only complete city in the UK that (along with its environs) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and to champion its sustainable future. The Trust is funded entirely by public membership, donations and sponsorship. It also owns or runs four independent museums in Bath: Number One Royal Crescent; the Building of Bath Collection; Beckford's Tower and the Herschel Museum of Astronomy.
In addition to its campaigning and educational roles the Trust comments on planning applications and provides limited financial assistance towards the repair or reinstatement of architectural features (railings, window glazing bars, urns, vases, gateposts etc.) that may be missing from listed buildings in Bath.
The Trust was founded in 1934 as a small pressure group with the specific aim of fundraising to buy properties in preparation to resist the Bath Bill, which was drafted in order to drive a new east to west road through the centre of Georgian Bath. As a result of this victory the status of the Trust was considerably enhanced and it was able to propose its own agenda for preserving the city. This included restoring The Prior Park Palladian Bridge and the Lansdown Greville Monument. Following damage to buildings in the city during the Baedeker raids on 25 and 26 April 1942 of World War II, the Trust worked with the War Damage Commission to assist people to restore their buildings. A further campaign against the "Sack Of Bath" in 1967–1968 reduced the replacement of heritage buildings with modern structures.
Since its first successful campaign, the Trust is now an independent registered charity and continues to campaign to save listed buildings, of which Bath has some six and a half thousand, and ensure a sustainable future for Bath in the context of its status as a World Heritage Site. The Trust now has some thirteen hundred members and a number of corporate sponsors. Its Patron is HRH Prince Charles.
The Trust contributes financially to remedial works that enhance the city’s Georgian character. It has rescued properties as diverse as Ralph Allen's quarry workers' cottages in Widcombe which once housed artisans who built some of Bath's great Georgian architectural set pieces, and the historically significant Beckford's Tower, now owned by the Bath Preservation Trust and run as a museum. A significant part of the Trust’s work is reviewing and responding to all planning and listed building consent applications submitted to Bath and North East Somerset Council. It also owns and runs four independent museums; Number One Royal Crescent, the Building of Bath Museum, Beckford's Tower and the Herschel Museum of Astronomy.
The Trust's headquarters are at Number One Royal Crescent, which was built by John D Wood. Number One stands as the cornerstone of one of the most significant urban architectural achievements of the 18th century and is one of the UK's most important buildings, representing the highest point of Palladian architecture in Bath. Most of the rooms in Number One operate as a museum, furnished to represent life in one of the great houses of 18th century Bath. The Trust's offices have been on the upper two floors of Number One; however, they have been relocated to the Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel on the Paragon, Bath for the duration of the Whole Story Project, which began in 2012.
The Whole Story Project: Reuniting Number One Royal Crescent with its Original Service Wing
During the twentieth century the lease on Number One was split and the building was separated into two properties, with the original service wing to the east being sold separately as 1A Royal Crescent. In 2006, 1A Royal Crescent was purchased by the Brownsword Charitable Foundation with the intention that it should be reunited with Number One, thereby allowing the Bath Preservation Trust to begin work to return the house as far as possible to its original architectural state and to operate it as an extended historic house museum, with improved educational and visitor facilities and additional exhibition space that allows for more community involvement.
In 2009 the Heritage Lottery Fund awarded the Bath Preservation Trust a development grant to begin the project. Together with financial support from the Brownsword Charitable Foundation and other private donations and grants, this allowed the Trust to start to develop its plans to reunite the buildings and implement the new museum. The Venetian windows on the eastern Upper Church Street facade were restored during the summer of 2012, returning the view of the Royal Crescent from Brock Street to that which Jane Austen and her contemporaries would have experienced in the late 18th and early 19th Century. The number of Georgian dressed rooms will be increased during the project from five to ten, including both below-stairs and above-stairs functions. A new learning centre will be provided in the basement of Number One for school groups, lectures and hands-on activities, while a new lift will be installed in 1A which will provide disabled access where none currently exists.
Fundraising efforts continue in order to find the £800,000 that is still needed in order to bring the project to fruition and to reveal more of the story of Georgian Bath, both upstairs and downstairs, and create a historic house museum where visitors can explore life as it was 200 years ago.
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- "Trinity Presbyterian Church #Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel# and Chapel House, forecourt wall, gatepiers and gates". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
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- "Nos 18-19 New King Street". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- "No 1 Royal Crescent". Images of England. Retrieved 2006-11-14.