Homes in Bath, England, Feature Heavily in ‘Bridgerton’—and Command Robust Demand in Real Life - Kanebridge News
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Homes in Bath, England, Feature Heavily in ‘Bridgerton’—and Command Robust Demand in Real Life

The small historic city is full of charm, from period architecture to top schools, which has lead to significant price growth over the past five years

By CAROL KING
Mon, May 20, 2024 9:22amGrey Clock 6 min

Bath has long been known for its genteel pleasures and civility.

It came to prominence 2,000 years ago as a religious spa where people worshiped the Roman goddess Sulis Minerva and bathed in the natural thermal spring waters that still flow with hot water today. In the early 1700s it re-emerged as a spa resort, attracting fashionable society as resident Jane Austen observed in her novels.

The city has come to the fore yet again thanks to the Netflix series “Bridgerton,” since many of its well-preserved heritage sites, stone-flagged streets and wisteria-clad mansions form a glamorous backdrop to the show’s high-society Regency world.

For instance, the city’s Holburne Museum acts as Lady Danbury’s townhouse. No. 1 Royal Crescent was used as the Featheringtons’s London home, while the Abbey Deli on Abbey Street was transformed into the Modiste dress shop, and Bath Assembly Rooms served as the venue for Lady Danbury’s ball in the first season. Glimpses of Bath, particularly its City Centre neighbourhood, are back as the first part of season three was released on Thursday.

Boundaries

Bath lies in the River Avon valley 97 miles west of London, between the Cotswold Hills and the Mendips. To the north, the city centre is bounded by Lansdown Road, to the east by the A46 highway, and the south by the A36 and the end of the Lower Bristol Road to the A4 highway. The river runs through the city, dividing it north from south, and there are four main bridges. The Roman Baths lie at the heart of the city, close to the great medieval church, Bath Abbey. The most iconic streets—some of which featured in “Bridgerton”—are the Royal Crescent and the Circus, which are a short walk from the baths and feature sweeping classical facades.

Price Range

David Mackenzie, partner at broker Carter Jonas, said the typical house price is £900,000 to £1 million, reaching up to £6 million for more expensive properties.

One- and two-bedroom apartments fetch between £200,000 to £400,000.

Prime prices cost about £1,000 per square foot, said Savills property consultant Christine Penny.

Housing Stock

Since Bath is a Unesco World Heritage City, its historical environment is protected, so it does not expand. The centre contains tall Georgian townhouses, while there is more modern housing on the infill sites created when the city was bombed during World War II. A Georgian townhouse usually has five stories and 100 stairs.

“They were built with entertaining in mind with large reception rooms, grand proportions, high ceilings, big windows and fireplaces. They have a doll’s-house look,” Mackenzie said. “Many have railings at the front and wrought-iron balconettes.”

The city is famous for its townhouses, like this one, on the market for £3.45 million with Carter Jonas.
Carter Jonas

Parking is at a premium; the Georgians built stables and coach houses at the back of properties but many have since been converted into residences. A garage can cost as much as £200,000 and a secure car-parking space £100,000.

Bathwick Hill and Weston Park also feature Regency villas that are individual in style, unlike the uniform feel of the monumental Georgian terraces.

“The Grand Tour of the day inspired the architects of that era because a lot of the houses will have beautiful pediments and columns that are almost Grecian in feel,” Penny said.

Villas are usually 5,000 to 6,000 square feet in size set within grounds of 0.5 to 1 acre. Such properties are rare, coming on the market once a year and can command between £3 million and £10 million.

What Makes It Unique

“Bath is a lovely mix of town and country life because it is such a small city, added to which it is very beautiful and very safe,” Mackenzie said, calling out the several bodies of water that cut through the city.“It’s very historic, but more recently what has attracted people to Bath is that it’s got very good schools and the University of Bath.”

This home in Bath is on the market for £4.895 million with Savills.
Savills

Former radio producer Penny Faux and her composer husband, Steven, moved to Bath from London with their young family. They were attracted by the city’s beautiful buildings, lack of urban sprawl and good schools. Faux also cited its vibrant arts scene as a draw.

“Bath punches above its weight, with good theatre and music festivals,” Faux said. “It’s also an international place, home to a university and many language schools.”

Bath also has good transport links, including an international airport and train connections into London in 90 minutes.

“It’s immensely attractive with period properties interspersed with lots of public space and parks,” Savills’s Penny said. “We have a university that attracts overseas students. We are a global destination.”

Luxury Amenities

Bath is a lively place with an excellent shopping centre and numerous restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Olive Tree. To relax, there is the Thermae Bath Spa with its natural springs, Royal Victoria Park and the Botanical Gardens on the edge of Royal Crescent. For sports, there are Tracy Park and Lansdown golf clubs to the north, and the Manor House Hotel golf club at Castle Combe.

The Roman Baths are at the heart of the city.
Getty Images

Bath has much to offer culturally with numerous art galleries and museums, as well as music, literary and film festivals. The Theatre Royal stages shows pre and post runs in London’s West End.

Among the top-ranked private schools on the north side are two day and boarding schools that enrol students from pre-kindergarten through high school: the Royal High School Bath school for girls and the co-ed Kingswood.

On the south side, King Edward’s School is co-ed day school geared toward pupils from pre-K to 12th grade. The co-ed Paragon School is for children aged three to 11. Prior Park College is a mixed Catholic day and boarding school for children ages 11 to 18.

Who Lives There

“Bath attracts people with connections outside of the area; a lot of people who work in London. People who move to Bath with their children tend to stay here, so we do have retirees,” Penny said.

There’s also an arts crowd in Bath that goes back to residents like writers Austen and Mary Shelley, Mackenzie said. “It’s also got a lot of academics who love its history, as well as high-net-worth individuals who come for the schools and because it’s safe, yet can get into London very quickly by train.”

Notable Residents

Mackenzie said the city is a lure for the famous because “you can blend in in Bath.” It’s been home at one time or another to many actors, from Indira Varma of “Game of Thrones,” to John Cleese and Nicolas Cage , according to published reports.

Royal Victoria Park is one of many places to relax in Bath.
Getty Images

Also from the arts, designer Manolo Blahnik reportedly made Bath his home 43 years ago and lives in a Georgian townhouse on Camden Crescent by architect John Eveleigh.

Outlook

Mackenzie said prices have increased 15% to 20% over the past five years. At present, it takes on average six to eight weeks for a home to sell. But Mackenzie said that properties in locations such as the Circus, the Royal Crescent, St James’s Square, Lansdown Crescent and Widcombe along the canal sell quickly.

“Property in Bath always holds its value because housing stock never increases, there’s never a flood of properties that come to the market,” he said.

“Bath stands its ground,” said Penny. She said the first quarter of 2024 had been very busy and the value of prime property rose in value 0.6% compared to the previous year.

Mackenzie said prices will remain stable in what is an election year but if a new government reduces stamp duty that may nudge prices up 5%.



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I.M. Pei was the confident visionary behind such transformative structures as the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong and the Louvre Pyramid in Paris, but he was also humble, and for years resisted a retrospective of his work.

Pei, a Chinese-American architect who died in 2019 at 102 , would always protest any suggestion of a major exhibition, saying, “why me,” noting, too, that he was still actively at work, recalls his youngest son, Li Chung “Sandi” Pei. A decade ago, when Pei was in his mid-to-late 90s, he relented, finally telling Aric Chen, a curator at the M+ museum in Hong Kong, “all right, if you want to do it, go ahead,” Sandi says.

A sweeping retrospective, “I.M. Pei: Life Is Architecture,” will open June 29 at M+ in the city’s West Kowloon Cultural District. The exhibition of more than 300 objects, including drawings, architectural models, photographs, films, and other archival documents, will feature Pei’s influential structures, but in dialogue with his “social, cultural, and biographical trajectories, showing architecture and life to be inseparable,” the museum said in a news release.

As a Chinese citizen who moved to the U.S. in 1935 to learn architecture, Pei—whose full first name was Ieoh Ming—brought a unique cultural perspective to his work.

“His life is what’s really interesting and separates him from many other architects,” Sandi says. “He brought with him so many sensibilities, cultural connections to China, and yet he was a man of America, the West.”

Facade of the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong in a photograph commissioned by M+ in 2021.
© South Ho Siu Nam

Pei’s architectural work was significant particularly because of its emphasis on cultural institutions—from the East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar—“buildings that have a major impact in their communities,” Sandi says. But he also did several urban redevelopment projects, including Kips Bay Towers in Manhattan and Society Hill in Philadelphia.

“These are all places for people,” Sandi says. “He believed in the importance of architecture as a way to bring and celebrate life. Whether it was a housing development or museum or a tall building or whatever—he really felt a responsibility to try to bring something to wherever he was working that would uplift people.”

A critical juncture in Pei’s career was 1948, when he was recruited from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (where he received a master’s degree in architecture) by New York real estate developer William Zeckendorf.

With Zeckendorf, Pei traveled across the country, meeting politicians and other “movers and shakers” from Denver and Los Angeles, to Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Boston, and New York. “He became very adept at working in that environment, where you had to know how to persuade people,” Sandi says.

During the seven-year period Pei worked with Zeckendorf, the developer fostered the growth of his architecture practice, supporting an office that included urban, industrial, graphic, and interior designers, in addition to architects and other specialists, Sandi says.

When Pei started his own practice in 1955, “he had this wealth of a firm that could do anything almost anywhere,” Sandi says. “It was an incredible springboard for what became his own practice, which had no parallel in the profession.”

According to Sandi, Chinese culture, traditions, and art were inherent to his father’s life as he grew up, and “he brought that sensibility when he came into America and it always influenced his work.” This largely showed up in the way he thought of architecture as a “play of solids and voids,” or buildings and landscape.

“He always felt that they worked together in tandem—you can’t separate one from the other—and both of them are influenced by the play of light,” Sandi says.

View of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, on the mesa, in a photograph commissioned by M+ in 2021.
© Naho Kubota

Pei also often said that “architecture follows art,” and was particularly influenced by cubism, an artistic movement exploring time and space that was practiced in the early 20th century by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, and the sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, among others. This influence is apparent in the laboratory at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., and at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, N.Y. “Those two buildings, if you look at them, have a play of solid and void, which are very cubistic,” Sandi says.

Yet Sandi argues that his father didn’t have a specific architectural style. Geometry may have been a consistent feature to his work, but his projects always were designed in response to their intended site. The resulting structure emerged as almost inevitable, he says. “It just was the right solution.”

Pei also intended his buildings “not only to be themselves a magnet for life,” but also to influence the area where they existed. “He never felt that a building stood alone,” Sandi says. “Urban design, urban planning, was a very important part of his approach to architecture, always.”

After he closed his own firm to supposedly “retire” in the early 1990s, Pei worked alongside Sandi and his older brother, Chien Chung (Didi) Pei, who died late last year, at PEI Architects, formerly Pei Partnership Architects. Pei would work on his own projects, with their assistance, and would guide his sons, too. The firm had substantial involvement in the Museum of Islamic Art, among other initiatives, for instance, Sandi says.

Working with his father was fun, he says. In starting a project, Pei was often deliberately vague about his intentions. The structure would coalesce “through a process of dialogue and sketches and sometimes just having lunch over a bottle of wine,” Sandi says. “He was able to draw from each of us who was working on the project our best efforts to help to guide [it] to some kind of form.”

The M+ retrospective, which will run through Jan. 5, is divided into six areas of focus, from Pei’s upbringing and education through to his work in real estate and urban redevelopment, art and civic projects, to how he reinterpreted history through design.

Sandi, who will participate in a free public discussion moderated by exhibition co-curator Shirley Surya on the day it opens, is interested “in the opportunity to look at my father anew and to see his work in a different light now that it’s over, his last buildings are complete. You can take a full assessment of his career.”

And, he says, “I’m excited for other people to become familiar with his life.”