Report on the IGRS outing to Bath’s Royal Crescent

We were fortunate to have chosen to visit Bath on an idyllic autumn afternoon.  Our destination was No 1 Royal Crescent, part of the Bath Preservation Trust.

Irishman Henry Sandford, from Castlerea, County Roscommon, was the first resident of this prestigious Bath address and hence our interest in this particular property. Henry Sandford lived here between 1776-1796. The property has recently been restored to its former glory as a gentleman’s residence and is full of beautiful pictures and 18th-century furniture.

Henry, born in 1719 in Roscommon, was the eldest son of Robert Sandford and his wife Henrietta. The Sandford family had received grants of land in Ireland in 1666 but they also had important Irish connections. Henry’s mother was the daughter of the 3rd Earl of Inquichin, whilst his wife, Sarah Moore, was the daughter of the 1st Viscount Mountcashel. Henry was MP for Roscommon for 19 years and later MP for Kildare and Carrick but ill health forced him to take a back seat, politically. We assume his ill health brought him to Bath.

We were very fortunate to have Michael Sandford with us on the tour and he spoke most eloquently about the house and the Sandford family. Michael was instrumental in identifying two Commonplace books by Henry Sandford which he found in the National Library of Ireland. These books, now on loan to No 1 Royal Cresecent, show how life was lived in 18th-century Bath with details of uproarious parties, local scandals and topped up with rude poems.

But there is a serious side to these Commonplace books which reveal Henry’s wider interests in agriculture, science and learning, history, art and warfare. The Cabinet of Curiosity, a fine piece of furniture and an essential bit of kit for every 18th century gentleman, has been filled with artefacts that reflect these scientific interests.

Henry records the visit to Bath of the Irish giant Charles Byrne (1761-1783) and writes “he was so tall I could hardly touch his nose standing on my tip toes”.

Our thanks to Museum Administrator Louisa Hall, and Tom Bowden, Head of Museums for the Bath Preservation Trust.

Those that weren’t able to join us on our exclusive tour of the house will enjoy the six-minute video below (or download the app here) and can learn more about the house on its dedicated website: No1Museum

Please also visit the Sandford family website) for more information. Both Michael and Tom Wills-Sandford would love some help in locating a missing portrait of Captain Theopilus Sandford. Perhaps you can help?

For further information about some Irish who have been buried in Bath see Some Irish Monumental Inscriptions in England by Horace Jones in The Irish Ancestor, 1969.

Report by Mary Casteleyn FIGRS
Photos by David Hope

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