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Monday, 01 October 2007
Bath Place

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This is Bath Place in Oxford. It is a cluster of houses built by Flemish weavers in the early 17th Century at the site of what is believed to be the old baths. The immigrants were granted permission to build their houses along the outside of the city wall:

Very little of the original city wall remains. However, parts of it are exposed on the back wall of the present dining room, and one can see a well preserved section of it from several of the hotel windows.

The cottages nestle between New College, one of the University’s oldest colleges, and Hertford College, established in the thirteenth century. The New College Bell Tower, which has been in continual use since the thirteenth century, is visible from many of the hotel’s rooms.

The Turf Tavern beside the hotel is the oldest in the city. Originally known as the Spotted Cow, the inn was renamed last century because it had become known as a centre for illicit gambling, including bear-baiting and cock-fighting.

The Bath Place cottages were domestic dwellings until nineteen-hundred. Their occupants were drawn from the lowest ranks of society but the cottages remained important to Oxford’s cultural heritage. The daughter of a stockman born in one of the cottages became the inspirational ideal of female beauty behind the Pre-Raphaelite movement; she was discovered by Dante Gabrielle Rossetti and the poet Edward Burn-Jones. Both fell in love with her and used her as the centrepiece of their work. The buildings are also mentioned in Thomas Hardy’s novel, Jude the Obscure.

In nineteen-hundred Merton College bought the cottages from Oxford City Council for use as student accommodation. The rooms were a sign of status and were often passed on from one privileged student to another.

Ex-students, many now in their eighties often return to visit the hotel, even today.

King Edward the Seventh often visited acquaintances lodging at Bath Place. The well known authoress Dorothy L. Sayers lived at Bath Place in the nineteen-twenties and has written about her experiences here.

(Read the full article here).

Posted by bigblue on 01/10/2007 at 10:58 PM
Filed under: EuropeUnited KingdomEngland • (0) CommentsPermalinkBookmark or Share

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