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 has some fourteen 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; No. 1 Royal Crescent, the Building of Bath Museum, Beckford's Tower and the Herschel Museum of Astronomy.
The Trust's headquarters are at No. 1 Royal Crescent, which was built by John D Wood. No. 1 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 No. 1 operate as a museum, furnished to represent life in one of the great houses of 18th century Bath. The Trust's offices are on the upper two floors of No. 1.
The recent Restoration project
During the twentieth century the lease on No. 1 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 No. 1, thereby allowing Bath Preservation Trust to return the house as far as possible to its original architectural state and to extend its operation as an historic house museum. In addition, educational and visitor facilities would be improved and additional dedicated exhibition space introduced.
With further substantial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund as well as other generous private donations and grants, the major works began in January 2012. The Venetian windows on the eastern Upper Church Street facade were restored to how they were when Jane Austen and her contemporaries strolled by in the late 18th and early 19th Centuries. When the museum reopened to the public in June 2013 the number of Georgian dressed rooms had increased from five to ten (50:50 'upstairs downstairs), a learning centre for school groups, lectures and hands-on activities had been introduced, and disabled access provided in the form of a lift and related facilities.
During the project the Commonplace Books (journals/scrapbooks) of the house's first long term resident (retired Irish MP Mr Henry Sandford) were discovered and using these the house has been reinterpreted to show his story and interests, giving visitors a truly immersive experience of life at that time.
- "Preserving Bath". BRLSI. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
- "Trinity Presbyterian Church #Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel# and Chapel House, forecourt wall, gatepiers and gates". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
- "Beckford's Tower & Mortuary Chapel, Lansdown Cemetery". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
- "Nos 18-19 New King Street". Images of England. Retrieved 2007-09-30.
- "No 1 Royal Crescent". Images of England. Retrieved 2006-11-14.