The museum is situated in the former home of William Herschel and Caroline Herschel (siblings), at 19 New King Street. The building is a particularly well-preserved small town house of the period. The modest town-house covers five floors, and includes two reception rooms on the ground and first floor. The town house is part of a terrace that was built around 1764-1770. The Herschels moved there in 1777, at which point the builders would have still been present, and the road would have been unmetalled. William discovered Uranus whilst residing in the house in March 1781 using a 7' telescope designed and built in the attached workshop. William left Bath in 1782, but Caroline, along with their brother Alexander, remained at the house until 1784. The patrons of the museum have been Patrick Moore (until 2012) and Brian May (from December 2013).
The basement contains a kitchen, parlour and workshop. At ground floor, the building has an entrance hall with a staircase, a small closet room that is used as a dining room, and a large south-facing room at the back of the house. Similar south-facing rooms are present at each level of the building. The dining room contains Herschel's dining table. On the first floor, the Music Room (where William taught music pupils) occupies the closet room, and the south-facing room is the Drawing Room. The upper floors provided bedrooms and servant quarters;] they have subsequently been converted into flats. The kitchen incorporates a Victorian cast iron range and a stone flag floor. It contains a replica Georgian house based on the museum's building, which is fully furnished inside. William built a single-storey workshop at the rear of the basement, extending into the garden; he used the workshop to conduct experiments and to construct his lenses, and it still contains Herschel's treadle lathe. The workshop, adjacent to the kitchen, was where William and Alexander made their telescopes. It contains a replica furnace, and a replica of William's machine for polishing lenses, the original of which is in the Science Museum, London; the replica polishing machine has been designed to be handled, and a touchscreen computer demonstrates the tools and machinery in the workshop.
The Caroline Lucretia Gallery, named after Caroline Herschel, was added to the museum in 2011. The gallery was designed by Hetreed Ross Architects, and is of a modern design, with floor-to-ceiling glazing, overhanging eaves and a flat] stainless steel stressed skin roof, with the solid walls constructed of Bath Stone Ashlar to match the rest of the building. The gallery expanded the available space at the museum, and is used for temporary exhibitions. The "Star Vault Astronomy auditorium", opened in 2003, shows a short film about the Herschels, their life living at 19 New King Street, and modern space exploration, narrated by Patrick Moore. The garden has been designed to replicate a planting scheme typical for a Georgian town-house. Laid out symmetrically with cypress trees and a charming arbour of quinces, it is planted with a variety of native medicinal and culinary plants that were known to have been cultivated in 1794. From this very garden on the night of 13 March 1781, the amateur astronomer William Herschel (using a homemade telescope) discovered Uranus. This was the first planet to be identified since the days of the Ancient Greeks.
A disabled parking space is situated outside the museum in New King Street but this cannot be booked in advance. An audio tour is available for visitors who are blind or partially sighted, accompanied by a book of tactile images. The museum has a virtual tour for visitors with mobility problems on the ground floor. It is also possible to see the exhibition on a screen in the reception area. There are tactile plans of the museum and garden with raised lettering and Braille. In the workshop, replica objects (such as Herschel’s polishing machine or his telescope mirrors) are designed to be handled. Assistance Dogs are welcome. Wheelchair acces is limited to the ground floor.
Location : 19 New King Street, Bath BA1 2BL
Transport: Bath Spa (National Rail) 0.8 miles or bus. Bus Routes : 1, 14, 21, 37, 38, 39, 319, A4 and X39 stop closeby.
Opening Times : Daily 13:00 - 17:00; Weekends + Bank Holidays from 11:00
Tickets : Adults £6.50; Concessions £5.50; Children £3.00
Tel: 01225 446865