Ancestral Roofs

"In Praise of Older Buildings"

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Blogger below stairs

 Due to the exceptional online skills of our darling niece Nicky (and maybe because the universe felt we needed a break) we managed to obtain lodgings on Upper Church Street, Bath, over a summery-hot Easter weekend. Upper Church Street abuts the right end of the arc of  Bath's iconic Royal Crescent.

our address was in the terrace at centre

My guy elected to spend an office day online at our lodgings, so I was free to spend hours across the street at the Georgian house museum at No.1 Royal Crescent, A wonderful wee video on the museum website captures the house wonderfully; but I took several hours longer. (couldn't link it directly - it's the 1:43 minute Vimeo at left of your screen.)

servants' stairs at No.1 Royal Terrace
 From the window of the servants' staircase (the area of grand houses which intrigues me most) I was able to look out from the museum house and see our row of Georgian townhouses along Upper Church Street.

As I wandered the below stairs area of the museum house, I saw what our AirBnB suite had once looked like. Uncanny.

The kitchens at No.1 Royal Crescent are recreated to show the harried daily life for the below stairs folks - without whom the refined life upstairs would not have run so smoothly.

Notice the niches which once likely contained fireplaces; they've been modernized with cast iron stoves.

warm work in winter, unbearable in summer?

above you looms the crescent

 Doors from the below stairs areas (which included the housekeeper's domain) open onto a below-ground terrace of sorts. It was accessed by stairs from street level, so the servants' comings and goings, and the delivery of goods, would not disturb the serenity above stairs.

On my return to our accommodations, I noted all the Georgian conventions at work here. But we got to enjoy the cool below ground suite, with none of the toil.

our window on the Upper Church St. world...
...and the way we got there

at least Georgian townhouses had light on lower levels
from our comfy bed, we admire former cooking niches

 In Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen puts these words into impressionable Catherine's mouth: "I really believe I shall always be talking of Bath, when I am home again - I do like it so very much."

Well, I'm considerably older and a bit more cynical, but I concur.


  1. Thank you for re-igniting my love of Bath!

  2. Hello from No. 1 Royal Crescent in Bath! What a wonderful recollection of your trip, and lovely write-up about us: thank you very much ;-). Your view out of the window onto Upper Church Street is one not often taken by our visitors (!), but does show the interesting architectural feature of the stairs 'in front of' the window. Thank you for sharing your Bath adventures with your readers.
    Janey Abbott, Marketing Manager at Bath Preservation Trust/No. 1 Royal Crescent.

  3. Delighted that you visited Ancestral Roofs, Janey, and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! Would love to know how you came upon the post ~Lindi

  4. Good ole' Google! A link popped up to you on Google Alerts. Our Trustees loved your collection of architectural quotes too. Do you wan tot add either of these:

    “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”

    “Designers think everything done by someone else is awful, and that they could do it better themselves, which explains why, I suppose, I designed my own living room carpet.”
    Chris Bangle

    Janey x