By Harry Mottram: There is a museum in Bath set in the fine stone portals of The Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel on The Paragon that sadly is not open to the public writes Harry Mottram.
Inside are some fabulous models of Bath itself and various buildings, plus carvings, ornaments and examples of the city’s lost architectural heritage.
There’s just a problem that only a couple of million quid will sort out. Under the cold and slightly damp flagstone floor lies a medieval burial ground. To open the museum ideally the flagstones need to be lifted the burial ground excavated and the remains of the buried removed and reburied elsewhere, a damp proof layer laid down and the flagstones replaced and possibly covered with a wooden floor. You see it is a major job with no quick solutions.
The Countess of Huntingdon’s Chapel is the HQ effectively of the Bath Preservation Trust – the charity founded in 1934 and dedicated to use it’s publicity that: “campaigns for and promotes the conservation, sustainable enhancement and celebration of the unique and historic City of Bath as a World Heritage Site.”
Although the chapel is closed for the time being with the Museum of Bath Architecture, its other properties of No. 1 Royal Crescent, Beckford’s Tower and Landscape and the Herschel Museum of Astronomy are open to the public and all make for an interesting excursion.
I caught up with the Trust’s CEO Alex Sherman to find out more.
“Bath is somewhere I’ve known all of my life with my grandfather an architect here, and family members in Bath, Bristol and Somerset,” he explained, “I’ve spent a long time in community development in Somerset working with people on transport, farming and the countryside for the county council.
“My path in heritage and landscape began with reconstructing lowland wetlands on the Levels, creating the largest reedbed in the country and working with the community to discover the buried archeology such as the Sweet Track.
“One of the partners was the South West Heritage Trust and I joined them as head of business which meant finding funding for their museum projects.
“I’ve known Bath Preservation for many years but never thought I’d work for them but when the job came up it was too good to pass as it unites my two biggest interests: architecture and design and museums.”
Originally from Bedford he graduated in Environmental Health at UWE, Alex is married with a family in Wells and said his first job was in a pub in Bristol.
When a job came up in organising rural transport he stopped pulling pints and began to drink up a rich career in preservation and heritage.
For a more on the preservation trust and how it works and to become a Friend visit https://www.bath-preservation-trust.org.uk/
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