Sunday, 26 July 2015

The Wiltshires and the Lower Rooms

The Wiltshire's were a very wealthy and influential Bath family who made their money as carriers, transporting high-value goods between London and Bath, and as bankers.

Thomas Rowlandson A Carrier's Waggon
In addition to these enterprises, they also became proprietors of one of the rooms on the parades. The first Wiltshire to take charge was Anne Wiltshire who ran the rooms from 1744 to 1747. The Bath Journal of 23 September 1745 tells us that the subscription Anne charged to use the Rooms was a guinea and they opened at 11 am.
Wiltshire's Rooms

Anne's son John Wiltshire took over in 1747 and ran them until 1767. He was the brother of Walter Wiltshire. Both brothers were prominent Freemasons and Walter was elected a Councillor in 1746 and went on to be Mayor in 1772, 1780 and 1791. We learn from the Bath City Council Minutes of 1746 that the Council was indebted to Walter Wiltshire to the tune of £7,700 or around £600,000 today.

Shockerville House
Walter Wiltshire's House
The New Bath Guide of 1766 tells us that John decorated his rooms with a "Portrait Picture and Bust of the Late Richard Nash Esq. beside many curious landscapes." The latter is of some interest because the Wiltshire brothers through both their work and Freemasonry were mixing with many important artists including Gainsborough.

Wiltshire's Rooms

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