One of my favorite places–William Herschel Museum, Bath


I find a lot of people don’t know about this museum in Bath, so naturally whenever I get the opportunity I spread the word. It’s the home of the astronomer William Herschel, and where he discovered the planet Uranus in 1781 (I mean, through a telescope. He didn’t find a major planet lying around among the old newspapers, which is the sort of thing, on a less celestial scale, that happens in my house). Herschel’s story is fascinating. He was a refugee from Hanover and a musician (you can buy recordings of his works), and traveled around England for a time as an itinerant music teacher before settling in Bath. There, one of his pupils paid him with a telescope, and he figured out he could make a better one. So he did. His sister Caroline joined him in England and was also an astronomer, and after the discovery of Uranus many famous names flocked to his observatory at 19 New King St. Eventually King George III invited him to move near Windsor to continue his work there.
The house is gorgeous and intimate–on a much smaller and modest scale than the houses of the Royal Crescent, for instance, and beautifully restored (I kidnapped a pic of the music room–note the “wall to wall” carpeting–actually long strips of carpet, and the intricate wallpaper) and full of Herschel’s books, furniture, and telescopes. His laboratory still features the cracked flagstones from a mishap of 1781. There’s also a charming garden, with a replica of his telescope.
I only discovered this museum the last time I visited Bath and I’ve been in love with it ever since.
Anyone else care to share their favorite place?
Janet

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