Across from our little shop, Independent spirit of Bath, we have the historic Parade Gardens. The gardens have a rich history that dates back to the early 18th century and is the centrepiece of the terrace walk area. In 1709, Richard 'Beau' Nash encouraged Thomas Harrison to build an Assembly Room for fashionable visitors to the spa. As a result, Harrison's Walk, a gravelled walk lined with sycamores, was laid out along the west and north boundaries of the triangular site east of the Assembly Rooms. Admission to these gardens was by subscription, ensuring exclusivity.
The gardens continued to expand and in 1730, John Wood the Elder built a further Assembly Room. Around the same time, a formal grove was laid out as a public garden with gravel walks immediately east of Bath Abbey. Named Orange Grove in 1734 in honour of a visit to Bath by the Prince of Orange, it was a popular spot for recreation among fashionable visitors to Bath in the early 18th century.
As John Wood began to develop North and South Parades to the south of St James' Gardens in 1738, these areas achieved pre-eminence among the places of fashionable resort in the city. Wood planned North or Grand Parade as a shaded summer promenade with steps descending to St James' Gardens which were to be laid out with a central circular lawn or bowling green and a sheltered spring walk below the retaining wall of the Parade. Harrison's Walk was to be retained along the north-west boundary of the gardens, and a further tree-lined walk was to be created along the river.
Although Wood's scheme was not fully realized, it appears from 18th and 19th-century plans of Bath that the layout of the gardens was carried out in accordance with his plan. Today, Parade Gardens is a well-maintained park with beautiful flower displays, a bandstand, and a café, offering stunning views of the River Avon and the Pulteney Bridge. If you're visiting Bath, be sure to add Parade Gardens to your list of must-visit attractions.