Putting Bath on the map at Building of Bath Collection
5th April 2011
The Building of Bath Collection’s major exhibition for 2011 will unveil a private collection of maps of Bath, dating from c. 1600 to the present day. Collectively these maps tell the story of the city’s evolution from the medieval city to the Georgian spa and beyond. The maps also reveal the development of map making as both an art and a science.
Until the rapid transformation of the Georgian period, Bath remained a city largely contained within its medieval walls. Three beautiful early maps illustrate this from a birds-eye perspective – those by Savile (c. 1600), Speed (1611) and Gilmore (1694). The only known original map by Savile has sadly been lost, but fortunately a transparency of the map was made before the map disappeared and the exhibition will feature a high quality reproduction kindly provided by Bath In Time.
The exhibition then showcases a series of maps from the eighteenth century that document the city’s transformation at 10-15 yearly intervals. From these maps you get a sense of the extraordinarily dynamic transformation of the city during the eighteenth century, where rapid change forced an almost constant revision of the city’s maps. The exhibition will also feature maps produced for contemporary guide books to the city demonstrating that Bath’s status as a high class destination encouraged a competitive map making industry.
The exhibition closes with highly detailed surveys of 19th century Bath and an example of twentieth century pictorial mapping which bears interesting comparison with the bird’s-eye views from the seventeenth century. The exhibition will also feature on a rotating basis, one of the 74 sheets from the 1:500 Ordnance Survey of Bath completed in 1886. This extraordinarily detailed map of the city – 10.56 feet to one mile – is the largest scale map of the city ever produced.
The majority of the maps have been loaned from a private collection and this will be the first time they have been publicly exhibited together. The exhibition is at the Building of Bath Collection at the Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel on The Paragon, Bath and will run from 19 February 2011 until the end of November (days/times appear below under Editors’ Notes). Alongside the exhibition we will also host a series of lectures focusing on maps and related themes.