Bath Royal Mineral Water Hospital: The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases: Also known as “The Min” ~ a bit of history I am closely connected with




The Kings Bath, by Thomas Rowlandson from the Comforts of Bath

Bath’s Mineral Water Hospital is about three hundred meters away from the bathing pool beside the pump room in Bath – where years ago the rich and the local of Bath sat or floated in the waters to absorb the minerals and appreciate the relief of the hot water brought from many conditions. In the 1600s Bath drew people purely for relief from ill-health. But as Bath grew in its fame as the place for everyone to visit in the 1700s  it was not only the rich that flocked there, the poor increased in numbers too.

As I raised in previous blogs, a couple of years ago, Queen Anne was the initiator for drawing the increased interest of the rich to Bath, when she sought the benefits of the waters in 1703. After her visit, a young fashionable entrepreneur, Beau Nash, saw an opportunity and moved to Bath to orchestrate its development into a city people came to for entertainment and pleasure. But the comfort and pleasure of the wealthy would be ruined by streets full of the poor who came in hope of help and found themselves living on the streets and begging. So in 1716 Lady Elizabeth Hastings and Henry Hoare suggested building a hospital to support, and contain, the poor, to remove the sight of those that were sick from the streets.

Donations were gathered from the wealthy who were interested in developing Bath by Beau Nash. This funded the building of the hospital, while all the stone was given by Ralph Allen from his nearby quarries that provided the stone for most of Bath’s building at that time. The foundation stone was laid in July 1738. The original hospital consisted of a basement, ground level and a single floor above which is what is now the east wing. To be admitted entrance people had to pay £1.50 if they lived in England or £3 if they came from Scotland or Ireland; this was fee was to enable the patient to be given clean clothes and to be sent back home at the end of their treatment. If they or their family could not pay then the governors would donate this sum.

There is a picture in the main hall of the west wing, painted by William Hoare, one of the founders, that depicts the patients the hospital treated. It shows those with symptoms of paralysis, rheumatism and a skin Bath Min picturecondition.


You can see that the boy has a brass badge on the right-hand side of his coat. The brass badges were given to inpatients to make it clear to others in Bath that they were inpatients in the hospital and were tickets of admission to the Corporation Baths. However, they also were a marker to innkeepers who were not allowed to serve the patients.

WallA second floor was added on to the hospital in 1793, so this would have been in place in the time that Jane Austen first visited Bath in 1797. The burial ground for those who died in the hospital was opposite, on the far side of the cities medieval wall, of which a short remnant survives today. But by 1801 when Jane came to Bath when her father became ill that area had changed too and the burial ground had become shops and houses. Jane Austen, her mother and sister Cassandra lived just beyond the medieval wall for her last months in Bath, in Trim St.

It was not until 1830, though, that the Royal Mineral Water Hospital actually had its own bath. An Act of Parliament empowered the hospital governors to lay pipes to bring the mineral waters to the hospital and construct a bathing pool there. This bath was taken out years ago, but, apparently, the tunnel that takes you from the hospital to the pump room, along the route of the pipes can still be navigated. There are also closed up tunnels under the road that take you to the houses the hospital owned on the far side.

The west wing was added and in 1861 and during the digging of the foundations a Roman floor was discovered. The floor is on display in the basement of the hospital.

Bath mosaic

The west wing of the hospital became the main entrance and was given a grand staircase, as impressive as many stately homes.


The portraits of those who founded the hospital and the painting by William Hoare adorn the walls, and the charitable intent of the first hospital is declared in the sculpture depicting the parable of the good Samaritan that decorates the exterior.


The best fact about the hospital, though, is that from the point it opened in May 1742 until today it has supported and treated people with rheumatic diseases, been a focal point for research and employed some of the best physicians. It is also the hospital where I am treated. In my last stay there I took the picture of the stairs that’s above from outside the door of my room. While the outdoor mineral water pool was removed some years ago, there is IMG_0260still a hydrotherapy pool and through the use of that, the hospital staff have enabled many people to walk when they had thought they would not get up out of a wheelchair and stand again. It is very odd to stay in the old rooms there and walk about the halls knowing how many generations of people, who have had similar problems, have been there before me (especially at night when nurse-call lights are set off without any knowledge of the patients).

I am not sure what people thought of the hospital in its early days but I would guess it was a great relief simply to have someone who actually cared enough to help them. That still applies today. But for them to be given food when they were in care and a roof over their heads must have timesed that feeling by a hundred. And today it is still a godsend to those who attend. The team in the hospital change lives for the better on a daily basis. But in the next few years the hospital will finally shut its doors on patients. The services are having modern facilities built in the main Bath hospital farther out of the city and when those facilities are ready the hospital will close its doors and become who knows what when the building is sold.

There is a small museum in the hospital, though, so if you are in Bath on a Monday or Wednesday between 2-4 or on Friday between 10-11.30, then it is worth a quick visit.

This post on a website showing a vintage postcard of the hospital with pictures, posted in 1916, is also an interesting view.

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The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama

The Tainted Love of a Captain #8 – The last episode in the Marlow Intrigues series



The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all 

The Illicit Love of a Courtesan #2 

The Passionate Love of a Rake #3

The Scandalous Love of a Duke #4

The Dangerous Love of a Rogue #5

The Jealous Love of a Scoundrel #5.5

The Persuasive Love of a Libertine #5.75  now included in Jealous Love, (or free if you can persuade Amazon to price match with Kobo ebooks) 😉

The Secret Love of a Gentleman #6 

The Reckless Love of an Heir #7

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Go to the index


  • the story of the real courtesan who inspired  The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,
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Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional historical and contemporary stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website to learn more about Jane. Or click  ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook  page. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark


Prior Park’s Grotto and Graffiti

The best folly in  Prior Park has not survived the passage of time well. It is the Grotto. See these links to get a glimpse of the Prior Park Grotto. Prior Park Grotto 1, Picture 2,

As I said last week, Ralph Allen owned and designed Prior Park with his friend, the poet, Alexander Pope, and undoubtedly the grotto was developed with Alexander’s influence due to its similarity to the one in Alexander’s property in Twickenham.

The development of Alexander’s own grotto took a lifetime. He gained permission to tunnel beneath the road in Twickenham, having built a Palladian Villa facing the river so that he might develop a garden on the far side. And here he built his best grotto, which was out of sheer fortune blessed by a spring which he describes in a letter in 1725,

‘I have put the last hand to my works…happily finishing the subterraneous Way and Grotto: I then found a spring of the clearest water, which falls in a perpetual Rill, that echoes thru’ the Cavern day and night. …When you shut the Doors of this Grotto, it becomes on the instant, from a luminous Room, a Camera Obscura, on the walls of which all the objects of the River, Hills, Woods, and Boats, are forming a moving Picture…And when you have a mind to light it up, it affords you a very different Scene: it is finished with Shells interspersed with Pieces of Looking-glass in angular Forms…at which when a Lamp…is hung in the Middle, a thousand pointed Rays glitter and are reflected over the place.’

It was never finished, because of the eclectic nature of the grotto – he was constantly adding things to it.

It became a mixture of two 18th century gentlemanly pursuits, one to build and design and one to collect precious things.

So much so that Alexander changed the description of his grotto to a museum of mineralogy and mining as he filled it with precious stones from Cornwall, fossils, a stalagmite from Wookey Hole and stone from across the globe, including a section of basalt from the Giant’s Causeway,Ireland.

And as you can see from the links to the pictures of Prior Park’s Grotto above, Ralph Allen’s Grotto mimicked this, with its intact eclectic floor of ammonites, crushed bone and pebbles.

The Grotto at Prior Park was built about 1740 and was Lady Elizabeth Allen’s retreat.

Her beloved dog, a Great Dane named ‘Miss Bounce’, given to her by Alexander Pope in 1739, and named after Alexander’s own Great Dane, is buried beneath the floor. Her epitaph survives;

 ‘Weep not, Tread lightly my grave, Call me Pet.’

Prior Park’s grotto was described in 1836 by a student of the Seminary Prior Park had become;

 ‘the roof and sides of this sweet retreat presented to the eye such a dazzling assemblage shells, fossils, minerals etc as perfectly astonished us,… The floor was almost as beautiful as the roof, being composed of a curious kind of stone perforated and inlaid with pie cones, fragments of bone etc, arranged in tasteful forms and the whole place exhibiting such a profusion of ornament and such a combination of taste and skill as I had never before witnessed.’

 And so to another of my secret fascinations – historic graffiti.

The best graffiti I have seen is in the Tower of London, and dates from the Tudor times of King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I, when men were locked away for months to years and had numerous hours to carve elaborate graffiti in the tower’s walls.

It inspires my imagination to picture the person seated or standing there carving it, and makes me wonder what their story was – what their history was.

I am sure that Prior Park’s transformation from a family home to a Seminary, and later a Roman Catholic public school, following Ralph Allen’s death in 1764, explains the graffiti at Prior Park, as it crudely defaces the Palladian Bridge.

Yet, despite the fact that it despoils the soft Bath stone façade it is still fascinating to think of the 19th century students, gossiping, laughing and misbehaving as they carved their marks.

Or perhaps they were alone, silent and contemplative as they carved their name to memory, as previously Pope must have once sat in the garden and silently crafted poetry. Images of the graffiti, spanning centuries.

For more information on Alexander Pope’s grotto see;

For information on the restoration of the grotto at Prior Park go to;

Graffiti 8


Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional love stories.

See the side bar for details of Jane’s books, and Jane’s website to learn more about Jane. Or click  ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook  page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark