Arlington House, Bath Street, City Centre, Bath
Arlington House is a complex of Grade I late 18th century and unlisted 20th century buildings within the core of the Bath conservation area and World Heritage site. The focus of this application is on the Grade I listed portion of Arlington House at 9-16 Bath Street, in particular the Grade I colonnade that runs along Bath Street and forms junction points with Hot Bath Street and Stall Street. It forms part of an architectural pair with the Grade I listed 1-8 Bath Street, jointly designed by Thomas Baldwin as part of the Bath Improvement Scheme of 1789. Part of these works included the rebuilding of the Grade I Pump Rooms and the improvement of public approaches and roads to the Baths. The construction of Bath Street resulted in an intentional connection between the remodelled Pump Rooms and the Grade I Cross Bath, rebuilt on the site of the earlier medieval structure. The Bath City Centre Character Appraisal summarises the significance of Bath Street as part of a programme of Georgian redevelopment works as indicative of “the deliberate creation of an environment in which fashionable society could see and be seen during the formalised round of promenades and visits to the spa, concerts and assemblies.” Historic England further highlights that the colonnades were intentionally designed to shelter pedestrians, therefore indicative of the street’s intentional design and use. As such, Bath Street as a whole strongly contributes to the Georgian Town Planning OUV of the World Heritage Site.
This application is intended to address unauthorised painting works to the colonnade, frieze and cornices. These have been painted in a bright white impermeable masonry paint and result in a sharp, visual contrast with the adjacent colonnade.
BPT is therefore supportive of the principle to reverse these works and reinstate the architectural and aesthetic homogeneity and balance of a significant Grade I streetscape within the core of the conservation area and World Heritage Site. We maintain that a uniform treatment is required across both sets of colonnades to ensure a coherent, shared appearance. This is crucial in retaining the street’s legibility as a grand set piece and example of Georgian town planning associated with the Baths.
However, it remains unclear as to why the painting works were undertaken in the first place. As such, further clarification and investigation are required to determine the most appropriate means of paint removal, as well as to clarify the current condition of the columns or the stonework to ensure that where necessary, an appropriate strategy is in place for follow-up repairs and maintenance works.
In the case of stonework being found to be friable, we recommend the use of lime mortar to appropriately consolidate the stonework as a more transparent addition, in favour of the proposed “limewash sheltercoat”.
We question whether DOFF cleaning is the most suitable approach in this instance, considering the sensitivity of the Grade I listed columns and detailing of the Ionic capitols. We recommend consideration of a system with greater control over heat and pressure settings to mitigate against possible over-stripping of the columns and an ‘overcleaned’ appearance.
We maintain that all cleaning works should be undertaken by a trained professional conservator or a conservation contractor with relevant experience.