Special Interest Tours
This is a small selection from the walks offered over the last 14 years to local societies, conference delegates, visiting academics, literary and musical societies, transport enthusiasts, architectural historians ... or groups and individuals keen to find out more about a particular aspect of Bath's history. If what you're looking for isn't featured below, please contact us. The chances are we will be able to accommodate you.
Labyrinths & Lace: Jane Austen in Bath Based on a walk first published in 1994, this is a celebration of one of Bath's most famous – although not always its most complimentary – residents. As well as looking at places connected with Jane Austen, the walk looks at the reasons for her dislike of the city, and the rich opportunities it gave her for satirical observation.
Pickwick, Pubs and Penny Readings: Dickens in Bath Jane Austen's reservations about Bath pale into insignificance beside Dickens' loathing of the city. Find out why he condemned it as a “mouldy old roosting place, built by a cemetery-full of dead people,” visit some of the hostelries who, so it is said, he got inspiration for characters in his novels, and listen to tales of the Bath Dickens Society's hilarious attempts to exploit the novelist's connections with the city.
Georgette Heyer in Bath Often dismissed as a romantic novelist, the meticulousness of Georgette Heyer's historical research and her sense of period make her an essential source for anyone wanting to understand Georgian Bath. This walk takes a new look at Bath through the eyes of Georgette Heyer and of her characters.
Smollett in Bath Smollett's Humphrey Clinker provides perhaps the most vivid account of life in eighteenth-century Bath, but Smollett was also a practising physician, and a friend of John Wood, who tried in vain to improve facilities in the baths and pump room. An exploration of the life of one of Bath's most colourful residents.
The Lost Inns of Bath: A Literary Odyssey Follow in the sometimes unsteady footsteps of Dr Johnson, Coleridge, Jane Austen, Smollett, Dickens and many others, in search of Bath's lost coaching inns.
Rebels & Romantics At a time when revolution was in the air, Bath played a pivotal role in the lives of many Romantic writers. Hear how Coleridge had a nervous breakdown while staying at the Greyhound Inn and of Mary Shelley penning Frankenstein whilst lodging at a house in the Abbey Churchyard.
The Nelson Touch Discover Nelson's many links with the city in a walk looking at the houses he lived in, as well as buildings erected in his memory.
Beau Nash's Bath Beau Nash arrived in Bath in 1705, a penniless adventurer. When he died 56 years later, the medieval walled city had been transformed into Europe's first pleasure resort. This walk explores Beau Nash's Bath as it changed in that half century.
Brunel in Bath Few people had as much impact on Bath as Isambard Kingdom Brunel. This walk explores some of the set pieces of the magnificent railway he built through Bath, as well as some less-known features. Brunel's unlikely friendship with William Beckford, his negotiations with recalcitrant landowners, the havoc caused by his navvies, and the impact of the railway on the city's economy are also discussed.
William Beckford's Secret Garden Bath's richest nineteenth-century inhabitant was also one of its most eccentric. He devised a linear garden linking his house in Lansdown Crescent to the hilltop tower he built over a mile away. This walk seeks out traces of one of Bath's strangest lost gardens and tells the story of the man who designed it.
No Swinging on Sundays: The Story of Sydney Gardens Public breakfasts, bowling greens, firework displays, gala concerts – 200 hundred years ago Sydney Gardens was one of the finest entertainment complexes in the land. Hear of its past glories, its sorry decline, as well as plans for the future …and the reason they banned swinging on Sundays.
The Rose Garden of the Philosophies: John Wood's Circus An in-depth tour of John Wood's crowning achievement, including recent theories as to the significance of the mysterious carved metopes, and its links to Stonehenge.
Letters Home Bath through the eyes of visitors, famous and forgotten, through the centuries. Amazement and admiration jostle with disillusionment and denigration. Whether they loved or hated it, their words cast a fresh light on Bath.
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot Bath's history is not all eighteenth-century fops and Regency gentility – there was conspiracy and secrecy, not to mention riot and revolution as the mob went on the street. Hear about Guy Fawkes' friends meeting in Bath, how a red hot poker deterred rioters – and much more.
The Wonders of Widcombe The hidden corners of the parish across the river: picturesque landscapes, wonderful views and an intriguing cemetery.
Bath: City of Film From Vanity Fair to The Wrong Box, and from Dracula to Persuasion, Georgian Bath has served as the backdrop to countless films. Visit the locations and find out why Bath is such a magnet for film makers.
The Bath Detectives Bath has become a popular setting for crime fiction: even Morse found himself in the Royal Crescent. Follow in the footsteps of some unusual police officers and some even more unusual amateur detectives.
Bath Beyond the Guidebook A little known but fascinating part of Bath can be discovered by climbing what John Leland described as “a rokky hill” called Holloway.Visit one of Bath's oldest churches, one of Victorian Bath's top tourist spots – and much else besides.
Street of Strangers Discover Walcot Street, one of Bath's most historic areas. Home to the Romans, market since the middle ages and still a place of industry, it continues to fascinate.
River, Canal & Gardens This delightful walk along the banks of the River Avon and along the towpath of the Kennet & Avon Canal continues through Sydney Gardens, Bath's only surviving Georgian pleasure gardens.
Windows & Things The fascinating story of how window tax grew ever more punitive – and how Bath's builders, by devising ever more ingenious ways of evading it, gave the city some of its most memorable architectural features.
Words on Walls Words are all around us: on signs, lamp posts, but mostly on walls – polite, funny, rude, informative,official, and often decidedly unofficial. An off-the-wall look at Bath through the words clamouring for our attention.
Building Bath From Palladian palaces to coachman's cottages, discover the building techniques used to create this unique city. From lavish decorations to penny-pinching methods, from grand façades to the muddled “backsides”, learn the secrets of building Bath.
The Good, the Bad & the Ugly Originally devised in 1990, this walk looks at Bath's architecture old and new. Is the old always good? Is the new always bad? With the new Spa now open and the pace of redevelopment getting ever quicker, which are the good, the bad and the ugly today?
Crescents Galore An Exploration of Bath's Unique Contribution to Urban Design, including some of the lesser-known crescents.
The Map's Right – Only the Buildings have Changed This walk compares the city of today with that shown on eighteenth and nineteenth century maps, to show how great some of the intervening changes have been.
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© Kirsten Elliiott 2007