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The Circus


The Circus is a communal garden with a grassed central area and a group of mature trees. The Circus was built to the designs of Wood the Elder between 1754 and 1769. Construction began in 1754, however Wood died less than three months after the first stone was laid and so his son, John Wood, the Younger, completed the design in 1768.

Location, Area, Boundaries, Landform and Setting

The Circus is at the junction of three roads. It is a circular area of grass overlooked by three equal terraces of grand Georgian houses. The grass is surrounded by a low stone wall and at the centre are five plane trees.

The area is maintained by the council. The trees are old and have had some attention in the recent past. There is some feeling that the planting of trees went against the original overall design of the area.

It’s no surprise that such an extraordinary landmark has been home to many famous people over the years. The artist Thomas Gainsborough lived at number 17, between 1759 and 1774, using the house as his portrait studio. More recently, Hollywood actor Nicholas Cage also lived at The Circus.

Visitor Access, Directions & Contacts

Access contact details

This is a public urban space.


Bath & North East Somerset Council

The Guildhall, High St, Bath, BA1 5AW

18th Century

The houses, a circle formed by three equal crescents, were designed by John Wood the Elder. They were started in 1754 and finished 15 years later.

William Pitt, who became Prime Minister, at one time lived in the Circus.

19th Century

It is thought that the garden was laid out and planted between 1800 and 1808, based on information available in the cuttings file at Bath reference library.

Originally there was a pump in the centre and the Circus was cobbled. Water was pumped to containers in the cellars of the houses. At some stage the pump was removed and grass was planted along with some shrubs, which probably included the young plane trees. The stone coping around the central grass supported railings in the 19th century, but these were removed during the Second World War for use in the armaments factories.

20th Century

No. 4 was bequeathed to the Bath Corporation by the widow of artist Charles Cooke in 1961. It was restored and annexed to the City's Museum of Costume. The garden of this house has since been renovated in the Georgian style.

Associated People
Features & Designations


  • Conservation Area

  • Reference: Bath




  • Crescent (featured building)
  • Terraced House
  • Description: The houses form a circle created by three equal crescents.
  • Earliest Date:
  • Latest Date:
Key Information





Principal Building

Parks, Gardens And Urban Spaces


Part: standing remains



Open to the public





  • E.J. Spiller

  • Avon Gardens Trust