William Camden, Camden Worldwide, History of Camden Bath, Architecture

2023 – the 400th Anniversary of William Camden

One of our committee members has put together this potted history of Camden, inspired by the Camden History Society in London who wished to mark the 400th Anniversary of the death of William Camden, whose name has spread the name of ‘Camden’ around the world. It’s a really good read.

Camden Worldwide

Globally, there are about fifty places called Camden. Almost all of them derive their names – ultimately – from William Camden.

History of Camden, Bath & its Architecture

Here’s a brief history of some of the buildings of Camden.  It’s not exhaustive, so do get in touch via our Contact page if you would like to submit any additions.

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Until the latter part of the 18th century the area of Camden remained largely open countryside with orchards and market gardens now supplying the growing city.  Development spread up the northern slopes and resulted in the building of Camden Crescent by the architect John Everleigh in 1787/8 at what is now the western end of Camden Road.  It was planned as a crescent of 22 houses with terraces of 5 houses at either end.  Because of landslips on Beacon Hill to the north of the crescent it proved impossible to complete the project. Only 18 houses and the south west wing survive.  What was intended as the centre is pedimented and bears the arms of Charles Pratt, first Earl of Camden, and the keystones of the houses bear his crest, an elephant’s head.  He was a lawyer who became Recorder of Bath in 1759.

Beyond the Crescent, on the southern side, are the mid-Victorian terraces of City View and Berkeley Place, the latter a group of 12 with banded ground floor rustication and two-storey projecting porches.

This is followed by Lower Camden Place, a picturesque terrace of early 19th century houses, possibly by John Pinch the Elder.  Most with two storeys facing the road, again with ground floor banded rustication, and an attractive array of pastel colours.  Four storeys at the rear belie their real size, with spectacular views across Bath and the Avon Valley.  Long gardens down to Gay’s Hill.

On the north side, set back from the road, is Upper Camden Place, an assortment of late 18th./ early 19th. century houses, some by the architect Eveleigh for the attorney John Jelly.

Further on, and set back high above the road, is Camden Terrace, a row of 6 elegant early 19th century houses, possibly by Pinch the Elder.  They are of single window width with thin reeded porches. The two in the centre project slightly and have ground floor banded rustication and a pediment with the arms of Charles Pratt, the first Earl of Camden.

Further along on the north side is Prospect Place, a long terrace of pretty cottages, mostly built in 1810 by Abraham Chubb, though No. 20, refronted at that time, has early 18th century features, and was originally a farmhouse.  Prospect Place seems to have been built on what had been a botanic garden set up in 1793 by the attorney, builder and amateur botanist John Jelly.  He had lived in a house known as Elm Bank, somewhere to the north of what is now Coburg Villas.  His bankruptcy in 1795 led to the sale of the house and land, which was subsequently sold for building.

On the south side of the road are the late Victorian houses of Belgrave Place and Belgrave Terrace and Belgrave Crescent, and on the north side Stanley Villas and Coburg Villas.

Some distance further on the north side is Claremont Place, four pairs of elegant regency villas, built in 1817, probably by Pinch the Elder.  They are three windows wide, the centre window blind.

Opposite is Frankley Buildings, the steep row of Georgian houses at right angles to Camden Road.

The road ends with the few shops of Claremont Buildings, still a community centre providing two estate agents, hairdresser and pub.