Jan Stetka on Bath Gardens - pdf copy

In the 18th century, the area which is the bowling green today consisted of crofts.  They were arranged E-W and had a combined area more than twice that of the bowling green today,  However none of these crofts belonged to Watson. They belonged to the houses/shops on Bridge St to the East. The terrier shows No.176 belonged to Daniel Pheasey and No.173 to Benjamin Wildgoose. It may be that White Watson learnt botany from these crofts. The warm stream leaving Bath House would flow SSE to the Water Street area.  It could have promoted the growth of many crops in the crofts. However it is more likely that White Watson’s ‘Botanical Garden’ was the small garden attached to No.155: A house, yard and garden (at) the Baths.

1969 Ordnance Survey 1:2500 map of Bakewell town -This shows Bath House as a Club.  The Bowling Green is shown explicitly.  But White Watson’s Botanical Gardens were probably at Bath House rather than in the area of Bath Gardens.

1898 Ordnance Survey 6 inch map of Bakewell - This is typical of the late 19th century maps of Bakewell.  They show that the eastern half of the 18th century crofts have been built upon and the western half of the crofts have been cleared to form a communal recreation space.  It was probably used by Bakewell’s main school, shaded black.  The space is called Bath Gardens on the 1888 map, which shows trees along the paths of the garden.  None of the 19th century maps explicitly label a bowling green.

The 20th century is represented by the OS map and aerial photograph.  It shows a division where the bowling green is today to the north.  There are fewer flower beds than at present.  Perhaps the area grew vegetables during the war?  The close-up shows a shelter to the south of the present bowling pavilion. This is similar to that at Bath House.

Bath Gardens Survey - Patrick Strange

Archaeologists’ Attempt to find evidence of White Watson’s Botanical Garden below Bakewell’s Bath Gardens

White Watson was an eminent geologist, stone sculptor, botanist and antiquary who lived in Bakewell’s Bath House during the Georgian period.  There he had a museum, sold geological samples, worked stone and offered bathing in warm spring water to visitors to Bakewell.  He had a botanical garden around the house according to his diary, presumably on the site of today’s Bath gardens.  Whist a 20th century painting of such a garden exists, it is not known whether the Artist’s composition is fanciful or based on a contemporary record unknown to us today.

Patrick Strange, professional archaeologist and a member of our Society, lives opposite Bath House.  He had the idea of a geophysical survey to check whether a magnetometer can detect any evidence of the structure of part of White Watson’s Botanical garden beneath the bowling green in Bath Gardens.  Patrick obtained a grant from Derbyshire Archaeological Society (DAS) to pay Bakewell’s Archaeological Research Services (ARS) to conduct the survey.  ARS will produce a map of any underlying structure detected and interpret the results.  Patrick will prepare a report for DAS and us.  The date and time of the survey was announced at our last meeting and four of us were there.  The survey started on time on a fine day.

The magnetometer operator is holding a white ‘H’ shaped sensor rather like an old fashioned television aerial.  This is able to sense the strength of the earth’s magnetic field, which will be modified by the presence of any hard structures below, as the operator walks up and down along non-magnetic measuring tapes.   It is connected to digital recording gear which records the field strength and location at metre intervals across the area of the bowling green.  No readings were taken within two metres of the wooden boundary as this had large iron nails and metal plates.  Also the gardener who was working with a large metal spade agreed to tend a different flower bed for the few hours of the survey.  Even visitors agreed to sit further away in case they had metal such as camera cases.    

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Prior to the geophysical survey I had to measure out the area of the GREEN itself. Although not quite a rectangle,

the area of grass is 44yds by 26yds (at north) a perimeter of roughly 140 yds. It is obvious that WW was including the whole of the area which includes also the gardens towards Rutland Square in his perimeter of 268 yds. This looks to be about right. Remember the southern boundary of the Gardens has been reduced.

Attached is a copy of the 1799 map which together with the schedule clearly states that the curtilage of Bath House includes the Parcel of land to the east of the building No.  126.

Patrick Strange