Milsom Street: A Fashion-Forward History
Milsom Street is an iconic Bath city site. It is lined with shops, cafes, and fantastic Bath independent businesses that SUAVE OWL is happy to be part of.
Whether you want to enjoy delicious food, admire the scenery, or buy local goods, the street is full of life and character. Milsom Street must be added to your visit to the city of Bath.
Such a centrepiece of modern Bath, it can be easy to forget the longevity and cultural history of this spot.
The street was built in 1762 by architect Thomas Lightholder. It contains several grade II listed buildings, including number 24. Number 24 was originally a bank, it includes unique baroque detailing not seen on the other buildings.
It was designed as a residential street of large townhouses for wealthy locals and visitors. The mansard roofing and corinthian columns are reflective of this. It was named after Daniel Milsom, a school master and member of the corporation who leased the land on which Milsom Street was built.
It did not take long for Milsom Street to be utilised for retail. By the early 1800s, it had become one of the busiest shopping streets in Bath. Its central location, with The Pump Rooms to the south and the new Assembly Rooms to the north, made it unmissable. Milsom Street became essential to socialite and aristocratic life, popular with rich visitors when they attended Bath's social season.
One of Bath’s well-known historical figures was one of these visitors. Not only is there proof of Jane Austen renting a pew in the Octagon Chapel on Milsom Street, but it was used as a setting piece and referred to in some of her most famous novels. In Persuasion, the street is the backdrop for the protagonist’s reunion with her long-lost love. In Northanger Abbey, the street has several starring moments. One character even says, ‘do you know, I saw the prettiest hat you can imagine, in a shop window in Milsom Street just now’ to another. It is amazing to imagine Austen browsing the intricate displays and walking the street in a similar way to today.
Milsom Street's reputation has persevered since the 1800s, through the 1900s, and into today. Two centuries after it became so fashion-forward, Milsom Street was voted ‘Britain’s Best Fashion Street’ in the 2010 Google Street View Best Streets Awards. It hosts events year around, including the Great Bath Feast, Christmas market and Christmas light switch on. It remains a key part of the Bath tourism experience and fundamental to the life of Bath’s citizens.
With such an interesting life and legacy, we are so proud to call Milsom Street our home. Find us at number 33!