An example of early 18th-century urban architecture
Marshal Wade's House was acquired by the Landmark Trust in 1975. In its fine position close to the Abbey, this house represents an important example of early 18th century urban architecture in the Palladian style. It is a rare survival in Bath, being built before the grand expansion of the city masterminded by the John Woods, Older and Younger. Tradition has long associated the house with Marshal Wade, so it is curious that there is no evidence that he ever held the lease of No 14.
The freehold belonged to the Abbey until the early 20th century, and his name does not appear in any of its very complete records, although at least one biography states that he died there in 1748. However, it is difficult to imagine the house being given so fine a front without the influence of someone familiar with Palladian architecture, which Wade undoubtedly was at that early stage. The likelihood is that he took lodgings there - possibly most of the house which was larger at that time.
George Wade was elected MP for Bath in 1722 and this would seem the most likely date for him to set up a permanent residence here. The next year he asked Lord Burlington to design him a London house in Great Burlington Street and it has been suggested that Burlington was responsible for the Bath house too. But the house in Abbey Churchyard is not the work of a purist. It is more likely to be by a local builder/mason working from Plate 50, Volume I of Vitruvius Britannicus, of which the list of subscribers includes the name Thomas Greenway. An architect as well as mason practising from c1704 until c1727, he built a number of small-scale Palladian essays including the Cold Bath House at Widcombe, an Assembly Room and General Wolfe's House in Trim Street, as well as 13 Abbey Churchyard next door. All have a faintly Baroque feel – bolection architraves are found on Wolfe's house; at the group he built in St John's Court; and at the Cold Bath. The Ionic capitals on Wolfe's House along with the other Orders on No 13, although less elaborate than those on Wade's House, are like them curiously undersized. The case for Greenway is by no means water-tight but he seems to be a more likely candidate than any of his Bath contemporaries.
George Wade, a keen amateur architectural enthusiast and friend of Ralph Allen of Prior Park, is much better known in his military connection. He commanded as a general officer in the Scottish Highlands during the pacification after 1715 and between 1726- 37 he executed the great military roads through the Highlands. In 1744 he was in the Netherlands and in 1745 his army in Yorkshire was evaded by the Pretender on his march south. Marshal Wade died in 1748 and an engraving of c1750 shows his Bath house with a shop on the ground floor. Later in the century the Cheap Street front was demolished with part of the house. Around 1810-1820 the large first floor room was formed and the existing shop front inserted. In 1920 Mr Dyte bought the freehold, and that family continued there until 1961 when they sold the house to Cyril Howe's photography shop. The Landmark Trust bought the Churchyard side from him in 1975. The ground and first floors are now let to the National Trust and above we have made a new set of comfortable lodgings for visitors to Bath.
For a short history of Marshal Wade's House please click here.
To read the full history album for Marshal Wade's House please click here.
To download the children's Explorer pack for Marshal Wade's House please click here.
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Monday 13th February 2014