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17 The Circus, Bath, Somerset, once housed the famous artist Thomas Gainsborough.

Thomas, his wife Margaret and two children lived in Bath from 1759 - 1774, when

they then left for London. At first they were in a town house in Abbey Road,

which has since been demolished and they then moved to the new fashionable

area of the Circus, called King's Circus at that time.

The houses in the Circus were designed and built by John Wood the elder and

finished by his son John Wood the younger, after his fathers death. John Wood

the elder had been convinced that Bath was the centre of the Druid activity in

England and having studied Stonehenge, designed the circus in the same diameter.

It is thought that the Circus is joined to the Royal Crescent by a ley-line and that

their design represents the sun and the moon.

Thomas Gainsborough was relatively unknown when he arrived in Bath, and

to help promote his work, displayed it at the Pump Rooms, showing how

beautiful he could make his sitters. Bath was now in its fashionable heyday

with the lure of the spa, the elite staying there to take the waters. Very soon after

his arrival he gained many commissions and when he moved to the Circus, he

incorporated his studio at number 17. Because of his success in Bath he

eventually moved to London having gained a reputation as a highly respected


If you go to Bath, visit the Victoria Art Gallery and the Holbein Museum to see

examples of his work. The Assembly Rooms have a portrait that he did of

William Wade, Master of Ceremonies, which Gainsborough gave to the

Assembly Rooms.

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