Bath has had its fair share of famous residents. In more recent times these have included the likes of John Cleese and Jaqueline Wilson, but for hundreds of years famous faces from all walks of life have come to visit Bath. Happily, some of Bath visits/famous stays in Bath have been recorded for posterity in the form of Bath’s commemorative open plaques (also known as blue plaques). If you’re coming to visit Bath, or already live here and want to explore the city a bit more, then you might like to track down a few of the following, who are just a small selection of the famous residents of Bath.
William Wilberforce (17-59-1833) is probably most well known as a politician, philanthropist, and abolitionist, whose tireless efforts helped lead to the passing of the Slave Trade Act in 1807. Almost opposite Dukes Hotel, at 36 Great Pulteney Street, is the plaque commemorating William Wilberforce’s two periods of residence in Bath in 1802 and 1805.
Pitt the younger
Another politician, this time Prime Minister from 1783-1801 and again from 1804-1806, William Pitt the younger (1759-1806) is the youngest Prime Minister in the history of the UK, having gained office at the age of only 24. He stayed in Bath at 15 Johnstone Street in between his two terms as PM, partly because he was so often plagued with gout and “biliousness.
Dr. David Livingstone
Of “Dr Livingstone, I presume?” fame. Dr. Livingstone (1813-1873) is most famous for his time as a medical missionary and explorer in Africa. He stayed at 13, the Circus in Bath while presenting a paper in 1864.
Dr. William Oliver
Dr. Oliver (1695-1764) was, during his time, the leading physician in Bath, who is said to have invented the Bath bun, only to discover that his rheumatic patients needed a less fattening food, at which point he invented the “Bath Oliver” biscuit. He was one of the founders of the Royal Mineral Water Hospital which still stands to this day. His plaque is on the site of his old residence at 18 Queen Square.
One of the famous “Lake Poets” along with Coleridge and Southey, Wordsworth (1770-1850) came to Bath in April and stayed until mid-June in 1841 to see the wedding of his only daughter, Dora, at St. James’ Church. His plaque is at 9, North Parade.
Jane Austen (1775-1817) lived in Bath from 1801-1805. She also based large parts of two of her novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey here. She stayed in a few different properties during her time in the city, but her plaque can be found at 4 Sydney Place, the first house she and her family rented here.
Gainsborough (1727-1788) has to be one of the most famous British portrait and landscape painters. In 1759 he and his family moved to Bath and attracted such prominent sitters here as Lord Chesterfield, Richard Sheridan, and Edmund Burke (who all also have plaques in the city). His plaque is at 17, the Circus.