Located in the historic city of Bath, this gallery contains a wealth of art across a broad range of mediums

Words by Steph Wetherell

Posted on 30/10/2019

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The Holburne Museum was the first public art gallery in the City of Bath, opening its doors in 1893 and moving to its current location in the former Sydney Hotel in 1916. The central part of the collection is formed from the personal collection of Sir William Holburne, the Fifth Baronet of Menstrie. After a brief naval career, he settled in Bath and began avidly collecting art. The resulting collection, containing over 4,000 objects, was bequeathed to the city on the death of his sister in 1882. The collection was expanded over the years, including the acquisition of paintings by Turner and Gainsborough, and now boasts a rich array of sculpture, porcelain, paintings, furniture and more.

Walk through Sydney Pleasure Gardens, a spot where Jane Austen would once have wandered, and you will reach the Kennet & Avon Canal (or the K&A as it’s known locally), an 87-mile waterway that links the Bristol Channel with London. This waterway is actually made up of two navigable rivers, the Avon between Bristol and Bath and the Kennet between Newbury and Reading, linked by a section of canal that was finished in 1810. After falling into disuse, the waterway was restored and reopened in 1990 and is one of the most popular leisure routes for boaters, cyclists and walkers.

Follow the canal northwards, away from the centre of the city, and you will soon pass an area of wall on your left – this is Darlington Wall, constructed when the canal had to be realigned for the railway and now offering striking views across Bath. Beyond this, the canal heads towards Bathampton and then out into the lush Somerset countryside. You can stop in Claverton, a perfect place for a picnic in the summer months, or a visit to the unusual Claverton Pumping Station. If you fancy walking further, Dundas Aqueduct is a striking sight, the 137-metre-long Grade 1 listed aqueduct carrying the canal over the River Avon below.

Plan your day out along the Kennet & Avon Canal with our online guide

Illustration by Lee Bristol