Art and Culture in Georgian Bath 1714-1830
Leisure: Shopping & Fashion
Often blessed with a surfeit of time and money, visitors to Bath looked for diversion and entertainment. For enterprising retailers, keen to capitalize on the latest fashions and consumer goods that would appeal to an increasingly emulative and consumerist society, they provided an important market. Shops and services sprang up. Renting lodgings, linens, furniture, musical instruments and other household goods, or hiring servants, was simplified. Teachers of riding, dancing, drawing, speaking, singing, and playing musical instruments abounded. Coffeehouses, booksellers and circulating libraries emerged. Haberdashers, tailors and milliners advertised the Season’s most sought-after fashions, fabrics and accessories, and the know-how to make them. Toy shops, selling luxury goods, mementos and trinkets, flourished.
Visitors looking for something to remind them of their stay in Bath could purchase prints, often by artists such as Jean-Claude Nattes, hand-painted fans from Thomas Loggan, or any number of small, transportable objects. For those with more time and money, there were excellent artists, including William Hoare, Thomas Gainsborough, and Thomas Barker. Sitting for a miniature or a portrait while at Bath was a common occurrence. As Bath grew outside of the old city walls and the élite increasingly congregated in the new Upper Town, with the development of the Circus, the Royal Crescent, and Lansdown, the most exclusive shopping tended to move from up from the Abbey Churchyard, North Parade and Orange Grove to Milsom Street. Developed in the 1760s to link the two halves of the city, by the 1780s Milsom Street had become the premier shopping street of Bath. For eighteenth-century women, in particular, Bath, with its nicely paved streets and its variety of shops, was a shopping delight.