With the luxury of a two night stopover in Bath it was time to walk up to Sham Castle. You can see it clearly from where the coaches drop off particularly at night when it is illuminated. With he luxury of a two night stopover in Bath, there was no excuse for not climbing up it after. our afternoon tea at the Pump Room. The trio even played Waltzing Matilda for our Aussie group.
At our tea we were overlooked by the statue of Richard ‘Beau’ Nash, the Master of ceremonies in Bath in the eighteenth century whose word was law in the town. We could also see the portrait of Ralph Allen, the Postmaster who did a great deal to reform the system of delivering mail and who made a considerable amount of money at the same time. He used much of this money to quarry Bath sandstone which most local people thought was useless but which Allen used to rebuild the city with his architects John Wood (father and son).
Sham is a typical eighteenth century folly, impressive from a distance but of no practical value. It consists simply of a wall with a few turrets perched on top of the hill overlooking the city. It is a place you look at and a place you look from to see an impressive view of Bath and towards Bristol in the distance. My son and his wife live there and were coming over to visit me so I was tempted to get them to drive me up but, particularly after cakes and scones, I felt it would be better to walk.
It took a good hour to get to the top where I met a courting couple occupying the only bench. Not wanting to disturb their idyll I made myself scarce and saw that there was easy access from the nearby road which adjoins the university campus. I could probably have taken a bus but the walk was more worthy.
Allen had his house Prior Park built on the top of this hill and Sham was an addition to it, partly to prove the strength of the local sandstone and partly just to show off the fact that here was a man who had arrived. John Wood the Elder designed Prior Park (now a college) as well as the famous Royal Crescent and Circus, while Sham was made by Sanderson Miller, who specialised in follies. We may disapprove but life would be much duller without such vanities. After the walk down there was time for a shower and change before meeting Henry and Harriet for dinner underneath Pulteney Bridge, another eighteenth century construction but one of much greater value.