IT WAS COMPOSER KARLHEINZ STOCKHAUSEN that suggested repetition as being "based on body rhythms, so we identify with the heartbeat, or with walking, or with breathing." Usually thought monotonous or irritating, repetition can in fact be very soothing in its continuity.
Bath's architecture is a testament to this. Uniform façades, crowned with equally duplicating roofs and chimneys, offer a repeating vision of classical proportions. Identical, alternating columns and windows line rows of buildings in gold-tone Bath stone. While visited widely for its spas, and said in legend to have cured King Lear's leprous father with its waters, the city's Georgian structures prove just as therapeutic to any visiting aesthete.
The Circus is a visual experience. Inspired by the Colosseum in Rome, it comprises three curved terraces forming a circle, with the entire circumferential façade growing progressively more ornate as the building rises: Doric on the ground floor, Composite on the piano nobile, and Corinthian on the top floor. Also impressive is the Royal Crescent, lined with 114 Ionic columns across 538 feet of terraced house façades. Even the weir by Pulteney Bridge consists of three concentric arches, juxtaposed with the bridge's own three arches. Bath's famed fudge, the making of which is demonstrated in-store, employs repeated, rhythmic folding to achieve a distinct creamy texture.
Leading to the Holburne Museum in Bathwick, which adjoins Bath, Great Pulteney Street is over 1,000 feet long and 100 feet wide, lined on each side by identical honey-hued buildings and street lamps. The thoroughfare is the grandest in Bath, although non-landmark streets don't really fall too far behind in appearance.
We did not bathe in the spas of Bath during our visit, though we did try drinking its spring water. We indulged in other liquids after that. At the height of our first full English winter, I found myself seasonally affected and was seeking some sort of cure. Waters did it for King Lear's father. Mine came in the form of a beautifully repetitive backdrop, for spending an uninterrupted weekend with the one whose life I share.
Thrice removed now from the places we've called home, I acknowledge the comfort imparted by repetition. Karlheinz Stockhausen associated it with such things as heartbeats, walking and breathing. Can anything be more essential?
The Circus, Pulteney Bridge, Fudge Kitchen, Roman Baths, Bath Abbey, The Queensberry Hotel and Royal Crescent, Bath. Photos by Lady San Pedro and Jaime Sese.