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Cold Bath South West of Downton Castle

A Grade II Listed Building in Downton, County of Herefordshire

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Coordinates

Latitude: 52.3595 / 52°21'34"N

Longitude: -2.8251 / 2°49'30"W

OS Eastings: 343905

OS Northings: 273817

OS Grid: SO439738

Mapcode National: GBR BF.SH4T

Mapcode Global: VH76L.ZYBK

Entry Name: Cold Bath South West of Downton Castle

Listing Date: 4 July 2008

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392634

English Heritage Legacy ID: 504875

Location: Downton, County of Herefordshire, SY8

County: County of Herefordshire

Civil Parish: Downton

Traditional County: Herefordshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Herefordshire

Church of England Parish: Wigmore Abbey

Church of England Diocese: Hereford

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Listing Text

DOWNTON

1421/0/0 Cold Bath South West of Downton Castle
04-JUL-08

GV II
A bath house, now ruinous, built in the 1780s by Richard Payne Knight standing in a Picturesque landscape that he created at Downton Castle.

MATERIALS: The Cold Bath is partly built in dressed stone and partly in stone rubble with stone dressings. It has an unusual plan form consisting of three, connected oval shaped rooms with an entrance tunnel to one side. Two of the three rooms are now roofless ruins, but the room with the plunge bath has a domed stone rubble roof with a central oculus open to the sky. The smallest room functioned as an outer atrium and/or a changing room. The medium sized room contained a cold plunge pool, and the largest room was formerly heated and was to be used after bathing.The walls of the outer atrium and rest room are standing in most parts, and the oval shaped domed cold bath is mostly intact. Along its south side runs a small flight of steps that formerly lead to a path leading down the gorge to a former Rustic Bridge spanning the river Teme. Inside the domed room is an oval shaped plunge bath with steps along one side leading into it. On one side, in the wall above the bath, is a small niche, which was probably were formerly the water came in to fill the pool, as it was fed from a nearby spring.

HISTORY: The Cold Bath, or Roman Bath, probably dates from the 1780s, when it was built for the owner of Downton Castle, Richard Payne Knight (1751-1824), an art collector and writer, most famous for his influential role within the Picturesque Movement, and for his didactic poem 'The Landscape'. The Cold Bath stands within the Picturesque landscape he created at Downton which included several other features, including rustic bridges over the River Teme, a water mill, caves, a tunnel, and some cottages. The Cold Bath was positioned along the dramatic cliff walk that was laid out through the gorge and designed to give the visitor a series of Picturesque views of the landscape and its features. Some of these views are depicted on a series of paintings by Thomas Hearne, commissioned by Richard Payne Knight in the mid-1780s when his landscape was near completion. Its approach lead through a secluded glade planted with yew (several mature ones have survived around it), with steps leading down the steep gorge to a former Alpine Bridge spanning the River Teme. A small late C18 plan of the Cold Bath exists, showing its three oval shaped connected rooms.

SOURCES: The entry for Downton Castle as included on the Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England.
S Daniels and C Watkins, The Picturesque Landscape (1994), pp 49-60.
Richard Payne Knight, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004-7)
Historic Ordnance Survey series
Annotated sketch plan of Richard Payne Knight's Cold Bath, late-C18 (Natural England).

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: The Cold Bath at Downton Castle is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* It is an interesting example of a bathhouse dating from the 1780s which has an unusual plan form of oval shaped domed rooms reminiscent of a Roman style bath.
* It has a strong historic association with Richard Payne Knight, famous for his influential role within the Picturesque Movement.
* It forms an important focal point within the Picturesque landscape at Downton as created by Richard Payne Knight (included on England's Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest).
* It makes an important contribution to the understanding of the historic development of the designed landscape at Downton and to the understanding of the Picturesque landscape movement in general.

This text is from the original listing, and may not necessarily reflect the current setting of the building.

Reasons for Listing

The Cold Bath, Downton Vale, Downton, is designated at grade II for the following principal reasons:

* It is an interesting example of a bathhouse dating from the 1780s which despite its ruinous state remains of special architectural interest, mainly due to its unusual plan form of oval shaped domed rooms reminiscent of a Roman style bath.
* It has a strong historic association with Richard Payne Knight, famous for his influential role within the Picturesque Movement.
* It forms an important focal point within the Picturesque landscape at Downton as created by Richard Payne Knight (included on England's Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest).
* It makes an important contribution to the understanding of the historic development of the designed landscape at Downton and to the understanding of the Picturesque landscape movement in general.


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