The taste of privilege

David Jones (Letters, 31 July) misses the point somewhat in questioning which provincial city is runner-up to Bath in the quantity of its Georgian buildings. Whether Newcastle or Liverpool is the winner is neither here nor there. The important question is, why has Bath held such a grip on centuries of travellers and writers who visit and invariably leave praising it to the exclusion of all else? As a Bristolian, I can confirm that my home city contains Georgian architecture that equals, and often surpasses, that of the small town just down the Avon. Yet Bath gets all the plaudits. All this despite Bristol having spent the majority of its thousand-year existence as the second city of the nation.

In the days of Beau Brummell, Bath was just an extension of Vauxhall or Covent Garden. Now its cafes and lifestyle shops echo those of the most desirable parts of north London. Could it be that today's journalistic elite, aping 18th-century aristocrats, only like what they know, and Bath has a successful history of providing a home-from-home for privileged metropolitans?

Paul Bristow
London SW18

This article first appeared in the 14 August 2000 issue of the New Statesman, So, who still wants to be a millionaire?