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Wednesday, 8 September 2010
Did you know that you can take a walking tour of Bath - for free? On almost any day of the year, you can simply turn up at the appointed time, and a volunteer guide will take you around the city.
My mother-in-law lives in Bath, so we visit fairly often, but we still enjoy taking this tour every now and then. Different guides have their own style, so you can take the tour several times and get a different experience - there's always something new to learn.
Bath's original architecture was designed almost entirely by one man: John Wood. And you'd struggle to visit Bath without admiring several of his impressive set pieces, like the Royal Crescent and the Circus.
What I find interesting is that he drew up these plans and then subcontracted the building work to a number of different local builders. As long as the front of the buildings matched his design, the builders had a free hand to complete the backs of these grand houses however they saw fit. The guide on our most recent tour gave us a name for this discrepancy: Queen Anne (the grand, uniform frontages) versus Sally Anne (the higgledy-piggledy, unplanned, backs).
This means that, while the fronts are impressive, the alleys which run along behind the terraces are (in my opinion) far more characterful and interesting.
Which side do you prefer?