Georgian town planning


Hawkesmoor sketch of early Bath

Although Georgian architects longed to improve the planning of British towns and cities, there was little opportunity for significant redevelopment in existing urban centres. Instead there was a lot of tinkering round the edges. Only where there was major growth was it possible to lay out sequences of elegant squares, terraces, promenades and crescents in places such as London, Edinburgh and Dublin.

The best known example of Georgian town planning is Bath. From the early eighteenth century onwards this was the most fashionable resort in the country, with a glittering social scene and suitably grand architecture to match. Great terraces, squares and crescents were laid out across its hilly site, all built in warm Bath stone, and provided the model for town planning across the country for the next hundred years.

Only in the early nineteenth century, was Bath eclipsed by other resorts. These were characterised by more informal developments of picturesque houses or villas in parks, such as Tunbridge Wells, Harrogate, and most notably Cheltenham Spa, the first garden city.

About the online exhibition

'How We Built Britain' is a major collaboration with the BBC


Images in the exhibition are from RIBApix, a growing database dedicated to providing you with exceptional and unique images from the RIBA British Architectural Library's collections.

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