Hardly a day goes by in Bath without a famous celebrity being spotted in the street (and mentioned on Twitter!). Apart from having John Cleese and Johnny Depp living with us, Ricky Gervais visiting for the weekend and Nicholas Cage having recently moved from town further into Somerset, Bath is also full of commemorative plaques (79 at the last count) celebrating famous residents down the ages.
In the course of some library research into one of our houses, I came across various lists and books of famous celebrities who (at one time or other in their careers) made their homes in the city. Most Bathonians would be familiar with Wordsworth, Austen, Nelson and Wood but have you heard of these other Bathonians and where they lived?
Sir Isaac Pitman – his system of phonetic shorthand was first published in “Phonotypy” in 1844 and he lived at No17 Royal Crescent
William Pitt (The Younger) – Prime Minister at the age of 24, he lived at No15 Johnstone St
William Wilberforce – instrumental in the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, he lived at No36 Great Pulteney St
Sir James Brook (The White Rajah of Sarawak) lived at No1 Widcombe Crescent
William Herschel – discoverer of the planet Uranus, he lived at Nos7 and 19 New King St
Admiral Sir Sidney W Smith – in command of the naval contribution to the 1799 siege of Acre and helped to defeat Napoleon’s Egyptian invasion. Lived at 12 Catherine St
James Heath – the inventor of the Bath Chair, developed as a “comfortable alternative to the sedan chair”, which evolved into the wheelchair we know today. His workshop was No4 Broad St
Henry Stafford Smith – published the first “Stamp Collectors Magazine” in 1863 which was the first ever philatelic journal. Lived at 13 George St
Edward Bulwer-Lytton – an English novelist and politician who coined the phrases “the great unwashed”, “the pen is mightier than the sword” and (in his book “The Coming Race”), “the pursuit of the almighty dollar”. Lived at what is now Connaught Mansions
Henry Fielding – author of “Tom Jones” but also the founder of London’s first police force – the Bow St Runners. Lived at Widcombe Lodge on Church St
David Livingstone – Scottish missionary, African explorer and one of the most popular national heroes of the late 19th century. Lived at No13 The Circus
Clive of India – established the military and political supremacy of the East India Company in Bengal. Lived at No14 The Circus
John Arthur Roebuck Rudge – the inventor of the “biophantascope” which was the precursor of cinematography. Lived at New Bond St Place