Talk:Ralph Allen's Town House, Bath

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Did Ralph Allen ever live here?[edit]

The following commentary added to the article by 78.145.253.61 and was reverted by User:Roscelese. I have copied it below as it is a suitable topic for discussion on this Talk page. --Pontificalibus (talk) 11:40, 25 January 2011 (UTC)

Whether Ralph Allen ever lived in this building is subject to debate. He certainly owned it, as he also owned the building to the Left of picture, - not shown, - (Lease No 7 on the Kingston Rental) and research by the survey of old Bath reveals that Mr Allen and later his brother Philip continued to operate their postal business on the entire site until 1750 or so.

The "Town House" shown comprises only 4 smallish rooms one above the other.(Survey of old Bath, Mike Chapman) As such it would not have been big or grand enough for Mr Allen. By comparrison, - following improvements by John Wood the elder, the house fronting North Parade Passage, (previously Lilliput Alley) comprised 17 or 18 rooms, - More befitting a gentleman of Mr Allen's standing. The linking rooms between the 2 properties, - often discussed (because the outlines of something at ground level appear on old maps), probably never existed. Inspection of the external walls show signs of attachments only at basement level. There is nothing to suggest a link at any floor above. The linking rooms were probably lean-to sheds.

The misunderstanding is perpetuated by sites such as imagesofengland.org.uk They've got it wrong:

the text accompanying http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/Details/Default.aspx?id=443802

says that Wood (elder) refers to it as having ".......... basement storey sustaining a double storey under the crowning, and this is surmounted by an attic which created a sixth rate house and a sample for the greatest magnificence that was ever proposed by me for our city houses."

It goes on to say There is a rusticated ground floor, Corinthian order enclosing 2 upper floors and the whole crowned by pediment richly decorated.

Just one or two problems here. There is no attic. oh and er um some other things Wood says, which have been omitted

In this extract from his essay towards the future of Bath, John Wood is referring to the house in Lilliput Alley now 1&2 North Parade Passage (previously Lease 7). John Wood actually says "while Mr Allen was extending his house (...) to the North he refronted his house and added a whole new storey"

The refronting to Nos 1&2 is quite apparent, The ashlar blocks of 1 & 2 North Parade Passage are flush with the rubble of Tilleys restaurant (no 3). During restoration of the window shutters in No 2 the old rubble wall was exposed with mason's saw marks showing how the window openings of he old rubble walls had been enlarged, and a front of new ashlar added.

The extension referred to is the demolition of the Stuart rooms on tne NE corner of lease no 7 and their replacement with rooms of increased width and celing height

Inspection of the front of 1&2 NPP show "a whole new storey" at 3rd floor level. Beyond this, - not visible from the street, - is a habitable attic.

It is not fair to attribute the term attic to the top storey of the house shown because it is just an unnhabitable roof space. Mr Mike Chapman could not even stand up in it. (survey of old Bath)

Magnificence, - in John Wood speak, - relates to size NOT to ornamentation. He categorises houses by a rating standard, which he describes in some detail. 1st rate are small dwellings. 6th rate are large. There is no way the house pictured could EVER be classified by john wood as 6th rate. See above. Lease No 7 = 17 or 18 rooms, whereas the town house pictured = 4 rooms.

Miss Elizabeth Holland of the Survey of Old bath has written extensively about the matter

SO Sad to say, despite all the folk lore about viewing sham castle from the window, the Ralph Allen Town House (sic) was never his town house. It may have been his offices, but more likely he built it to look at from his withdrawing room, - or to impress his business clients with a very impressive example of the workability of Bath Stone.

The "north wing" referred to IS the house shown. It is to the north of the 1&2 North Parade Passage, but Wood does not refer to a North Wing. In fact he avoids mentioning at all, a symbol of his distaste for its vulgarity perhaps?

I have revised the text in line with the Manual of Style, tried to improve the referencing and removed the claim that he lived there - however many of the claims made in the article need references to back them up, as at least two of the references describe it as Allen's house & none of those I can see argue that it wasn't. Verifiability is important.— Rod talk 19:52, 26 April 2011 (UTC)