Bath

William Herschel (1738-1822) was appointed organist of the Octagon Chapel in Milson Street in 1766. He moved to Bath in Dec 1766. He was rather more than an organist--at his introductory concert on 1 Jan 1767, before the organ was complete, he performed a violin concerto, an oboe concerto and a harpsichord sonata, all of his own composition! He also directed the choir and they gave performances of the Messiah at the inauguration of the organ in Oct 1767--William performed one of his organ concertos between the second and third parts. He also sang tenor solos in various oratorios and taught the guitar. He was a major figure in the active musical life of Bath, as teacher, performer, composer and director. He joined the orchestra of the Theatre Royal in 1768 and later directed it. A booklet on his music lists 24 symphonies, 14 concertoes, 44 chamber works, 129 keyboard works and 10 vocal works. [His Sonata in D, Op 4 No 4, for harpsichord obbligato, violin and cello, is recorded by Invocation on Hyperion CDA66698, Enchanting Harmonist: a soirée with the Linleys of Bath (1994) - TM] In Feb 1772, he gave the only recorded performance on the 'Changeable Harpsichord' developed by Robert Smith, late Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and founder of the Smith's Prizes.

In 1772, William and his brother were at 7 New King Street and their sister Caroline Herschel came to study singing. By 1776, she was performing and in 1778, she was soloist in the Messiah. She later become William's assistant and a notable astronomer in her own right. William began studying astronomy seriously in 1773, building his own telescopes because he could not afford to buy them--his brother was a good mechanic and helped build the telescopes. On 4 Mar 1774 he had a good 5 foot Newtonian telescope working. In the summer, the Herschels moved to a house in Rivers Street. In 1776, William resigned from the Octagon Chapel. In 1779, he composed his most popular piece, 'Favourite Echo Catch', and the next year published his first astronomical papers. In Mar 1781, the Herschels moved to 19 New King Street and on the evening of 13 Mar 1781, he discovered Uranus with a 7 foot telescope magnifying 227 times, though he initially thought it was a comet. Sadly, Caroline was not present -- she was still packing up at the previous house. William was appointed Royal Astronomer to George III in 1782, at a salary of 200 per year. He and Caroline gave a farewell performance at St. Margaret's Chapel on Whit Sunday, 19 May 1782, and then they moved to Datchet, near Windsor, in late July 1782. There is a Herschel House and Museum at 19 New King Street, Bath. In 1884, there was a proposal to erect a memorial window in the Octagon Chapel, but I don't know if it was ever done.

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Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) is buried in the porch of the Abbey Church, Bath.

A descendent of John Napier, General Sir Charles James Napier (1782-1853), the conqueror of Sind, lived at 9 Henrietta Street.

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Frank Morley taught at Bath College for three years in the early 1880s before emigrating to the USA.


To see an Ordnance Survey map click at THIS LINK


Gazetteer Index Main MacTutor index

An extract from The Mathematical Gazetteer of the British Isles created by David Singmaster

The original site is at THIS LINK