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Why Bath is a city to impress even Bridgerton’s Lady Whistledown

The streets of Bath offer a snapshot of Regency history and a step into the world of the hit period drama Bridgerton, says Naomi Clarke.


The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa
The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa is nestled within thirty Grade I listed terraced houses which feature in the backdrop of many Bridgerton scenes (The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa/PA)

As I promenade through the blossoming gardens of Bath, recounting the latest romantic entanglements of my friendship group, I can see why this was a favourite pastime of high society during the Regency era. The glistening sun highlights the city’s classical colonnades and grand, honey-toned buildings, which provided a perfect backdrop to the leisure activities of the well-to-do when they wished to escape the bustle of London.


The city’s distinctive appearance and architectural history, which garnered it a World Heritage Site title in 1987, still attracts around six million visitors each year, as well as a host of big-budget production crews. The latest project to set Bath abuzz is the popular period drama Bridgerton, set in the early 1800s.


In 2019, it first rolled its cameras in to use 14 different locations around the city as the setting for 70 scenes within series one, masquerading as spots within Regency-era London. The Netflix hit later returned to shoot the subsequent seasons and the spin-off drama – Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.


Luke Newton as Colin Bridgerton and Nicola Coughlan as Penelope Featherington in the forthcoming season three of Bridgerton (Liam Daniel/Netflix/PA)

Fans will soon be gifted with more whirlwind romance and salacious gossip as the show returns to screens this month. The highly-anticipated series three will finally reveal if the friendship between Penelope Featherington (Nicola Coughlan) and Colin Bridgerton (Luke Newton) will blossom into something more while providing an update on all the latest drama within the Ton.


After rewatching the previous series in anticipation, I’m eager to experience a slice of the Bridgerton lifestyle for myself and to explore the streets, buildings and ballrooms that have staged many memorable encounters within the show.


So with corset in tow, I set off in my (train) carriage on the 80-minute journey from central London through the English countryside until I reach the streets of Bath. The uniform buildings constructed of golden-coloured limestone, called ‘Bath Stone’, are immediately striking. Georgian is the dominant architectural style, marked by the symmetry of the sash windows and central door placement, which often feature decorative details.


Our tour guide highlights how No. 1 Royal Crescent was transformed into the Featheringtons’ townhouse (Naomi Clarke/PA)

To help spot which locations made the small screen, I join tour guide Fred Mawer on a two-hour stroll through Bath, where he offers fascinating tidbits about the show and the city’s history.


First stop, The Royal Crescent, a sweeping curve of thirty Grade I listed terraced houses overlooking the emerald green Royal Victoria Park. As one of the most notable landmarks in the city, designed to look like a palace, it is no wonder the Bridgerton production team used it to portray scenes of the upper-class promenading and travelling by horse-drawn carriage in London’s Grosvenor Square.


No. 1 Royal Crescent also plays a particularly important role as it became the exterior of the Featheringtons’ townhouse across the three series, with a couple of clever CGI tweaks used to add further grandeur. When it’s not getting the Hollywood treatment, it’s a museum decorated and furnished to look as it might have been in the late 1700s, allowing fans and history geeks the opportunity to delve further into the Regency world.


Promenading by the Holburne Museum which acts as the facade of Lady Danbury’s house in the TV drama (Naomi Clarke/PA)

We later arrive at Holburne Museum, a public art gallery on the other side of the city which plays the facade of Lady Danbury’s palatial residence within the drama. The elegant exterior of the Grade I listed building features prominently in the first episode when Lady Danbury welcomes Simon, the Duke of Hastings, back to London, and later when she hosts the lavish opening ball of the season where members of the Ton dance, socialise and attempt to attract suitors.


The interior scenes of the ball, where Daphne Bridgerton first meets Simon, were also filmed within Bath, but over at the Tea Room within the Assembly Rooms. Its towering ceiling, wrapping balcony and famous Georgian crystal chandeliers provided the perfect backdrop for the glamorous occasion. Interestingly, our tour guide Fred tells us the building is actually an impressive reconstruction as the original was victim to bombing during World War Two, a testament to the city’s dedication to the Georgian style.


As we continue to wander through the city centre, it becomes ever more apparent how each street is laced with a rich history. At the cobbled Bath Street, we learn that its striking line of colonnades down each side feature in many Bridgerton scenes. However, we also discover that it leads to Spa Quarter where the water bubbles up from three natural hot springs within the city. Frank reveals 1.2 million litres of hot water comes from these springs every single day at a temperature of around 45 degrees. Romans were the first to harness the city’s mineral-rich water, but they are still in use in modern spas within the area today.


The Bath House at the The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa (The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa/PA)

After taking in the city’s historical landmarks, the only fitting way to unwind is to submerge myself in the vitality pool at The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa. Between the massage jets within the Jacuzzi-style pool and the heat of the sauna and steam room, it’s fair to say optimum tranquillity is achieved.


Set in the centre of the Royal Crescent, the five-star hotel is the perfect location to live out your full Bridgerton fantasy. My interpretation is to immediately get into the fluffy white gown provided and throw myself on the four-poster bed as soon as I step into the suite. With its elegant blue and white decor and sweeping views across Royal Victoria Park, it is easy to imagine oneself getting ready for an 1800s ball when dressing for the evening.


Trying the Loch Duart salmon at Montagu Mews (Naomi Clarke/PA)

We later dine at the hotel’s restaurant, Montagu Mews, which serves us a host of elegantly presented, modern British dishes made from locally sourced ingredients. We start with Loch Duart salmon and roasted quail, both of which melt in the mouth. This is followed by a feast of roasted halibut, aged beef ribeye and a selection of sides, and, before we succumb to the food coma, we make room for their delectable baked passionfruit tart and rhubarb and milk parfait desert.


By morning, the snug eatery transforms into a bright, airy spot for breakfast. We are invited to graze leisurely at the buffet of fruits, cheeses, and freshly baked goods after we order our cooked breakfasts – the hardest decision of the trip so far due to the mouth-watering selection.


As I sip my coffee while peering over the hotel’s blooming gardens I can’t help but think: even Lady Whistledown would be impressed at what this city has to offer.


How to plan your trip


The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa Bath On Screen package costs from £934 (two sharing), including two nights at the five-star Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, two-hour guided tour, three-course lunch, unlimited spa access and daily breakfast. Visit royalcrescent.co.uk.


For more information on Bath, see visitbath.co.uk.


Part one of Bridgerton season three comes to Netflix on May 16.


 

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Discover the best places to visit across the UK with British Breaks, www.gbbreaks.co.uk.

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