The Circus is a circle of Georgian row houses built in the 1700s when the upper section of Bath was built for people coming for the season to “take the waters” (go to the Pump Room daily to drink the healing waters from the natural hot springs). The Circus was designed and built by John Wood the Elder and finished by his son, John Wood the Younger in 1767.
Jane Austen lived a block away for some time in the early 1800s. I am reading her novel “Northanger Abbey” and the characters frequently walk between the Assembly Rooms, which are just off The Circus, and the Royal Crescent. They also go shopping on Milsom Street which is still the main shopping street.
At the center of the Circus is a grassy area with several huge trees. In the summer these trees dominate the Circus, but in the winter, with all their leaves gone, the houses dominate. They are more visible because you look through the trees instead of at the trees. In the winter the trees are black, not green and the winter light makes the stone on the houses more vivid, like looking at a very good black and white print instead of a washed out color print.
The Circus is my favorite place in Bath. I like the walk from Queen’s Square, up Gay Street, past the Jane Austen museum to the Circus at the top of the hill. A few years ago we spent a week in an apartment two blocks from the Circus. From the Circus it is only two blocks to the Royal Crescent, another architectural gem. From there you can walk back to the town center following along the back yards of the houses, so you see the curve of the Circus from behind.
The actor Nicholas Cage has a house on the Circus. I also found out that the singer Van Morrison (one of my favorites) has a house in Bath and spends a lot of time there.