Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Queen Anne vs Sally Anne



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?

25 comments:

LindyLouMac said...

I love Bath and find both sides of the crescent attractive, but I did not know about the guide service, must remember that, thankyou Rachel

Tabor said...

I actually like both sides of Bath!

Writing Without Periods! said...

I've taken this tour and it is so wonderful. Love your photos.
mary

Sam Liu said...

I love Bath and have visited on several occasions. It is such a beautifully city, and both sides are wonderful - though my personal preference is the quaint alleyways. I didn't know about the free tour, I must go on it next time I'm there :)

The Blonde Duck said...

It sounds awesome!! I always wondered what Bath was like.

carma said...

the back is much more interesting. It seems there is much more character in buildings across the pond

Captain Dumbass said...

I didn't get to visit Bath when I was in England. Of course, I was only 20 then and was more interested in pub architecture.

And the front is definitely impressive, but the back is more interesting.

Heidi said...

Be still my beating heart! So hard to choose . .. I do know that John Wood, along with Beau Brummel and Prinny pretty much invented regency style so, as a writer of regency period novels, this is all very interesting to me. I would love to go to Bath, just love it! My one week in England was spent in the midlands which was still wonderful.

Jess @ Frugal with a Flourish said...

I like the uneven look! Sally Anne for me!

Jenn Erickson said...

Rachel, back in college I attended a lecture on the history of Bath, and ever since have longed to visit there...ahhhh...someday! I'm definitely intrigued by the Queen Anne/Sally Anne juxtaposition in the architecture. I think I'm probably more of a Sally Anne gal myself, and would love checking out all the higgledy-piggledy nooks!

ScoMan said...

I knew John Wood was in the aussie show "Blue Heelers" but I had no idea he was an architect.

Plus I went to school with him. That guy is multi skilled. (Yes, going to school with me is a skill)

I think I prefer the Sally Anne style. That's right, I think, I don't know what I like.

liliannattel said...

I love looking at the backs of places. Definitely backs for me!

Zabrinah said...

Bath looks so beautiful. I really want to visit!

Sigh ...

I need to travel more.

Best wishes from one blogger to another,

Zabrinah

Deirdre said...

Interesting!

I like both.

cornflakegirl74 said...

I've never been to Bath but love stories like this where architects are given free reign to design as they see fit. Because I prefer a bit of hodge-podge and mish mash, I would go for Sally Anne. I agree with you: the back alleys definitely have a lot more character.

yogurt said...

I didn't know that the crescent view, shown in so many BBC period films was Bath. Huh. And very interesting factoid, the higgledy-piggledy backs. I can't choose, really. I love to look at both!

MJ said...

I really want to go there now, it looks lovely!

Velva said...

I prefer the Sally Anne :-) Great post.

JadeLD said...

These photos remind me so much of Edinburgh! I've never been to Bath although I've been saying that I should visit it for so many years. I'll try to remember those tours when I do get down there.

I love that there are both sides to these buildings. It's like so many things, from the outside it looks so well kept and in order, then from the inside it's all mixed up and all over the place.

I like that it has two sides, thanks for sharing the photos with us.
Jade

christine said...

such a beautiful city, and when we were there in the summer, the rain stayed away. I love the character of the backs, but admire the craftsmanship of the facades.

Fly Girl said...

LoL! Sally Ann is very interesting and full of personality but Queen Ann is so pretty! I really like looking at Ann's sweeping beauty.

Jeanne said...

Sally Anne, no question.

Louiz said...

Bath is one of my favourite places, and I'll have to look for a guide next time I'm there.

Thanks Rachel:)

Jules said...

Thanks Rachel, I didn't know that and will take advantage next time I go to Bath!

Shanimal said...

Hey, I saw that you read one of my posts on my blog so I thought I'd return the favor.

I wish I had joined the blog world a year ago, that you had written about this free tour of Bath a year ago, and that I had read your blog of free tours of Bath a year ago...because I was in Bath a year ago and didn't know we could have a free walking tour. Bummer! Thanks for the info, though. Next time (probably never) I'm in Bath again, I will be sure to get myself a volunteer guide.

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