WOOD, John the Elder
(b. 1704, Bath, d. 1754, Bath)

Exterior view

begun 1754
Circus, Bath

Bath, renowned as an English spa since Roman times because of its hot springs, became a centrepiece of urban planning which blended with the landscape. Between 1725 and 1782, John Wood the Elder and John Wood the Younger, father and son, planned the interior of this city on the banks of the Avon in Palladian style. The backbone of the design was provided by three monumental squares: Queen's Square (John Wood the Elder, 1729), the monumental Circus with its star-shaped junctions (John Wood the Elder, 1754), and Royal Crescent (John Wood the Younger, 1767-75), a crescent-shaped complex opening onto broad parkland and flanked by curving access roads.

The Woods had encountered the idea of surrounding a square with uniformly structured residential accommodation in the royal squares in Paris, and the circular format in Mansart's Place des Victoires. However, the eighteenth-century architecture of Bath ultimately incorporates much clearer references to Rome than to the French capital. In addition to adopting aspects of the urban schemes found in antiquity, the structure of the façades also uses Roman motifs: thus the sequencing of the orders of architecture used in the Circus, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, evoke the Coliseum and the giant order used in the Crescent is reminiscent of Michelangelo's Rome. The relationship of Roman buildings to their surrounding landscape also began to influence a new "controlled naturalism" in English gardens of the eighteenth century.

The picture shows the Circus in Bath.