19th Century letter's 'fascinating' glimpse of Bath life

Edward Appleton letter In the letter, Edward Appleton said Bath provided everything needed for a winter stay, including cooks and housemaids - although he recommended that Thomas Aspinwall brought his own silverware

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A 19th Century letter that gives a "fascinating, rare" glimpse of society life in regency Bath, has been bought by the city council.

It dates from 1819 and was written by holidaymaker Edward Appleton.

He sent it to the American consul Thomas Aspinwall shortly before the consul's wife and children were to arrive in Bath to spend the winter.

A council spokesman said it was bought online from antiquarian-dealer in America, for $10 (around £6.30).

The council usually acquires archives for its record office collections "as donations", he added.

'Streets are paved'

In the letter, Mr Appleton wrote: "From what we have seen of the place, I feel convinced Mrs Aspinwall could not have chosen a place in England where she could pass the time of your absence more comfortably.

"This is truly a city of lodgings."

Other words of advice in the letter, dated 24 October 1819, were not to bring any unnecessary equipment for a winter stay as everything was provided at Bath lodging-houses, including cooks and housemaids.

The only exception suggested was to bring one's own silverware, presumably for entertaining.

Colin Johnston, principal archivist at Bath and North East Somerset Council, said it was "so rare" to find observations from Georgian times on what a tourist in Bath should expect.

"We are also told the markets are good value; the lodging-house keepers are good cooks and civil; and, most intriguingly, Bath is recommended as a fine place for children as the streets are all paved over," he said.

The original letter is on show in the Bath Record Office at the Guildhall.

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