Gentleman's Retreat

Objects In The Room

No. 1 for Kids
For Kids

The Gentleman's Retreat

A gentleman’s retreat or study was a sanctuary where a cultured Georgian gentleman might indulge his interests in science, inventions and the natural world.

The objects and books in the cabinets typify the 18th century’s obsession with gaining knowledge through collecting during the period referred to as the Age of Enlightenment.

The Grand Tour

The European ‘Grand Tour’ was an essential part of every gentleman’s education. Travelling to Italy and visiting monuments of antiquity provided an opportunity to bring back souvenirs to furnish the home. They also offered a way for a gentleman to show he was a man of culture and learning.


During the 2010 restoration to reunite No. 1 and 1a Royal Crescent, architectural paint research was undertaken within the two buildings. A total of 147 samples enabled the team to choose paints that closely matched the colours found in the house during the 18th century. The paint in this room matches the original colour.

Science and Discovery

The electrical machine on display is a modern replica of Nairne’s Patent Electrical Machine, which dates from 1783. When turned, the central drum rubs against a sprung pad to create a charge.

This charge is stored in the Leyden jar and once the voltage reaches around 9000 volts, a spark jumps across the spark gap. Electrical machines were used for medical therapy in the 18th century, shocks being used to alleviate aches and pains.

Objects In The Room

12 Comforts of Bath, by Thomas Rowlandson, (1756 – 1827) published 1798,

These images are a visual satire on the fashionable activities of Georgian Bath;

  • ‘At the Concert’
  • ‘Consulting the Doctors’
  • ‘Taking the waters at the Pump Rooms’
  • ‘The Fish Mongers Stall’
  • ‘Riding’
  • ‘At the Portrait Painters’
  • ‘At the Baths’
  • ‘In the Card Room’
  • ‘At Luncheon’
  • ‘The Ball’
  • ‘The Tea Room’
  • ‘Exercise below Lansdown’

A George III Mahogany Chair

Note the pierced vase shaped splat (seat). This chair was made for the famous Bristol giant, Patrick Cotter O’Brian.

The Old Matchwoman, by Thomas Burke, (1749 – 1815), c.1790

This painting is the only item on display in No. 1 Royal Crescent that is thought to have been in the house during the Georgian period. Whilst all other items are authentic Georgian objects, they are not original to this house.

Coalbrookdale Fire Grate

This rare fire grate is illustrated with a picture of the celebrated Coalbrookdale Iron bridge built in 1779. The grate was rescued from a house in Bath that was demolished in the late 1960s.

On loan from the Bath Buildings Record / Museum of Bath Architecture.