RNHRD and Therapies Centre

Art, Heritage and Design Commissions

RNHRD History and Heritage

An impressive collection of fifteen 18th Century portraits are owned by The Min and include key figures of Bath who were also involved in the founding of the Mineral Water Hospital, including Ralph Allen, Beau Nash and the founding doctor and physician of the hospital Dr Oliver and Mr Peirce.

The painting titled ‘Dr Oliver and Mr Peirce, Physician and Surgeon Examining Patients Afflicted with Paralysis , Rheumatism and Leprosy by W.T. Hoare is listed in the 1761 Society of Artists exhibition catalogue as ‘A picture intended to be given to the Mineral Water Hospital’. (Mr Peirce is the figure on the left in brown and Dr Oliver in red in the foreground.)

On July 28th 1762, at the weekly meeting at the Royal Mineral Water Hospital which the artist William Hoare attended, it was ‘Ordered that the thanks of the General Court be sent to William Hoare for the elegant Picture he presented to this Hospital’. In his twenty years as Hospital Visitor, Hoare would have had ample opportunity to study disease at close quarters and it is more than probable that he was able to use inmates of the hospital as models.

Three portraits were removed from the Min early to receive extensive treatment by our conservator, Sarah Cove. They form part of an exhibition at No 1 Royal Crescent called ‘Image Control’ which runs until January 2020, when we intend to bring the two oil portraits of Daniel Danvers, the Treasurer and founding member Ralph Allen  to the RUH. The conservator discovered the frames and structures to be in a very poor state and she had to carry out extensive restoration as well as cleaning off old varnish, patchy re-touching and then re-varnishing the whole canvas; they now look fantastic and are future proofed.

Daniel Danvers portrait – Oil on Canvas (No.1 Royal Crescent)

The pastel self portrait of William Hoare will go on loan to Victoria Gallery where the environment including light levels and air temperature won’t negatively impact this very fragile but beautiful portrait.

William Hoare self-portrait – Pastel (No.1 Royal Crescent. This particular piece is too delicate to come to the RUH)




AATH are working with  Bath Medical Museum (BMM) who plan to set up a dedicated museum within Bath that can house the Min’s collection of medical artefacts and continue to grow.

There will be a cabinet of curiosities on display in the new RNHRD and Therapies Centre containing a small selection of fascinating artefacts and information about their history.





Artefacts from the Min’s Collection

Bath War Hospital

There will also be information panels on the Bath War Hospital on display, containing fascinating postcards, stories and imagery.

In January 2016 we embarked on a project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Bath War Hospital. As part of this project we have established www.bathwarhospital.org to record the story of the Bath War Hospital, and we hope that this will provide a valuable resource for anyone who wishes to learn more about the City of Bath during WW1, or about day to day life in a WW1 hospital.


Art & Design Commissions

Art at the Heart have commissioned artists and designers to interpret Bath’s connection to the thermal healing waters, the landscape, Bath’s medical history and contemporary interpretations on present day practice in Therapies. These elements have been interpreted and represented throughout the building as well as externally.

We worked closely with IBI Groups’ Interior Design team to create a scheme that would harmonise with the arts and heritage commissions installed for the new Centre.


The brief was to take inspiration from the RNHRD (The Min) artefacts and paintings and find ways to interpret into a modern clinical building.

The design interprets aspects of The Min’s heritage collection of artefacts and historic
portrait paintings to create bespoke wallpaper designs for the waiting area and corridor for RNHRD Rheumatology.


Hydrotherapy Pool Windows by Chris Tipping

Christopher Tipping’s creative approach makes connections between place & historic legacy, hydrotherapy practice and an imaginary landscape, which may be conjured up whilst receiving treatment in the pool, feeling the benefits of floating with often painful exercise, whilst being supported by warm water in the care, assistance and encouragement of staff.


Both Hospital sites were originally set in and adjacent to open fields and expansive views of countryside. Easy to imagine then how beneficial this must have been to those patients and staff who first experienced this. The connection to hot springs and flowing waters has shaped Bath into the World Heritage site we see today.

These architectural glass panels are floor to ceiling glazed apertures with a combined 46.40 sq. m of glass. Christopher worked in collaboration with Proto Glass Studios, based in Pewsey. The work was achieved using sandblasting and ceramic etch techniques. Colour was created using screen-printed ceramic colour, which is then kiln fired onto the glass. The artwork is applied to the two inner faces of a double-glazed sealed unit. As a result, there is a subtle overlaying of motifs in the final work, which means that the artwork is slightly different as seen from the interior, than the exterior.

Art at the Heart and Christopher Tipping engaged with a large group of stakeholders, including staff and service users, some of who are lifelong patients at the RNHRD and RUH.

Hydrotherapy Pool Windows designed by Chris Tipping in the new centre


Geographical Timeline by Ross Bennett

The city of Bath would be unlikely to exist as an exceptional World Heritage City without the discovery of the thermal waters, which bubbles up from the ground at Bath, having fallen as rain thousands of years ago on the nearby Mendip Hills.

This artwork seeks to represent the history and historical uses of the thermal spring waters of Bath.

The kiln-cast glass through the centre of the piece represents the water. It follows a geographically accurate terrain line of the journey that the waters are believed to take, falling as rain on the mendips around 2000 years ago and slowly working their way towards Bath, being heated and accruing their unique set of minerals on the way.

Susan Brown

Recovery and Relaxation: Light Box artworks

Andy Goodman

A round of applause

Climbing up on Solisbury Hill

Andy Goodman will show a series of large framed prints in the RNHRD and Therapies centre relating to rehab: aimed to be sensitive, motivational and also have a touch of humour. The works will be installed in corridors and treatment rooms on the ground floor, and first floor of the Therapies building, they will also aid wayfinding.

Creative Art Workshops at the RNHRD with Edwina Bridgeman

Artist, Edwina Bridgeman has been doing a series of workshops with residential patients and staff to create an art work for Bernard Ireland House, residential accommodation for RNHRD patients and the new Centre. This project has been funded by RNHRD Charitable Funds and Bath Institute for Rheumatic Diseases (BIRD).

“Because of the Mins association with water we have looked at the routes patients and staff would have taken had they travelled to Bath via waterways. Patients arrive from all over the country and plotting routes on the map has been a great starting point. I supplied a large sheet of calico on which to start.  We have cut stencils, sprayed fabric paint, stitched, made felt, painted and printed all around the theme of water and water ways.

Working with both staff and patients has been a real joy. The project is well underway and each week we are excited to see the progress made.”  Edwina Bridgeman

Feedback from Participants

‘Nobody talked about pain. We all just enjoyed what we were doing’

‘It was a sense of calm and stillness I haven’t experienced in many years’

‘I felt part of something’