AboutAlongside the iconic Royal Crescent, Bath also features another impressively rounded landmark: The Circus.
Originally known as The King’s Circus, this remarkable sight consists of three curved segments of Grade I listed townhouses, arranged in a circular shape. The striking attraction was designed by John Wood the Elder, an architect also responsible for the nearby Queen Square. Unfortunately John Wood the Elder didn’t live to see his plans turned into reality, due to his death less than three months before construction of The Circus began in 1754. His son, John Wood the Younger, completed the build in 1768.
Wood was always fascinated by prehistoric stone circles, taking the Roman Colosseum as inspiration for his design (although creating The Circus to face inwardly, as opposed to the Colosseum’s design to be seen from the outside). Look closely at the detail on the stonework and you’ll see many emblems, such as serpents, acorns, nautical and masonic symbols. It’s thought that the acorns are tributes to the druids, creators of the stone circles that Wood admired so much.
The grassy area with trees in the centre of The Circus was once a reservoir that supplied to water to the surrounding houses, although this became a garden for the residents in the 1800s.
It’s probably no surprise that such an extraordinary landmark has been home to a number of famous people over the years. The artist Thomas Gainsborough lived at number 17 between 1758 and 1744, using the house as his portrait studio. More recently, Hollywood actor Nicholas Cage also lived at The Circus.
During the Bath Blitz in 1942, part of The Circus was badly bombed, demolishing several of the houses. They have now been reconstructed and restored in the original style.
Whenever you decide to visit Bath, make sure you stand in the middle of The Circus and marvel at this inspiring and beautiful piece of architecture; you simply won’t find anything else like it.