The Circus is an example of Georgian architecture in the city of Bath, Somerset, England, begun in 1754 and completed in 1768. The name comes from the Latin ‘circus’, which means a ring, oval or circle
The Circus, was designed by the architect John Wood the Elder, although he never lived to see his plans put into effect as he died less than three months after the first stone was laid. It was left to his son, John Wood the Younger to complete the scheme to his father’s design.
Wood’s inspiration was the Roman Colosseum, but whereas the Colosseum was designed to be seen from the outside, the Circus faces inwardly. The circus consists of 3 storey townhouses and mansard. 3 or 4 windows. Divided into 3 blocks, all of the same size but each with a different number of houses. Three classical Orders, (Greek Doric, Roman/Composite and Corinthian) are used, one above the other, in the elegant curved facades. The masonry between columns is not curved but this is not apparent. The frieze of the Doric entablature is decorated with alternating triglyphs and 525 unique pictorial emblems in the metopes, including serpents, nautical symbols, devices representing the arts and sciences, and masonic symbols. The parapet is adorned with stone acorn finials.
Like The Royal Crescent, The Circus is constructed from Bath Stone, a Limestone comprising granular fragments of calcium carbonate. Its warm, honey colouring gives the circus and much of Bath its distinctive appearance.
Photography © Quintin Lake, 2010