The final complete season of the Historical Association Bath Branch's long residence at Green Park Station began on 22 September 2011 not in the branch's usual meeting room in the station but in the elegant surroundings of the Francis Hotel. Our landlord had double-booked and offered us the hotel meeting room instead. Our speaker's subject on that occasion was Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the Seventeenth-Century Mediterranean. And the speaker was Adrian Tinniswood. That year's November lecture was given by Professor Marilyn Palmer of the University of Leicester. Its title was Comfort and Convenience in the English Country House.
Now, in February 2018, distinguished architectural and social historian, writer and broadcaster Adrian Tinniswood returns to the HA in Bath, and with him the country house also. Using memoirs, letters, diaries and eyewitness testimony Adrian will focus on the life of English country houses between the end of the First World War and the beginning of the Second.
In living conditions ranging from the splendid and luxurious to the decaying and decrepit the landed rich and the nouvelle riche, the famous and the infamous, the conservative and the eccentric shared the experience of getting away to the country for a few days at a time and for longer periods. Attempts were made to create new country houses in contemporary or avant-garde styles. Some owners sought an antidote to the urban, industrial and modern by reviving handcrafted buildings and interiors using local materials: some members will recall visiting Rodmarton Manor, built between 1909 and 1929 in the Cotswolds Arts and Crafts style.
Whether the architecture was Classic Georgian or New Georgian, Gothic or Gothic Revival, High Medieval or Arts and Crafts, the activities, attitudes, ideas and interactions of the people who came together in country houses tell an intriguing part of the story of a society living through a period a rapid change.
A visit in May and Christmas at the American Museum
If you are one of the Bath Branch's many members who have very busy diaries you may well want to make a note now that the first of this year's two visits during the summer break in lectures will be to Bowood House and Gardens on Wednesday 16 May in the afternoon. I hope to be able to report next month on a visit to another venue, to take place, if possible, on Thursday 14 June. The details of both visits, with booking forms, will be emailed or posted to members during March.
This year's members' Christmas visit and buffet will take place at the American Museum on Thursday 13 December, beginning at 19.30.