Salisbury Turkish baths:
17th century Jacobean staircase
leading to the baths entrance

1920s watercolour Recent photo of the stairs

Victoria and Albert Museum, London

David Lovell

At the far right corner of Plume of Feathers Yard (site of the old Plume of Feathers Inn, 'a house of call for Jewish pedlars, who travelled round the country with their boxes of jewellery'1) still stand the remains of a 17th century Jacobean wooden staircase. At the end of the 19th century, this led to John May Jenkins's Victorian Turkish bath located at the north-east corner of Cross Keys Chequer.

The baths opened in 1879, but early in the morning of 1 February 1881, barely thirteen months after their opening, fire broke out in the furnace room. By the time the fire brigade arrived the roof had been destroyed and, when the blaze had finally been extinguished, the baths, with the exception of the cooling-room, had been entirely destroyed or irretrievably damaged.' Although the premises were old and mainly built of wood, the staircase was spared.

The image on the left shows a watercolour, painted in the early 1940s by Henry Samuel Merritt (1884-1963), and now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

What remains of the original building and its staircase are now Grade II* Listed by Historic England. The photograph of the staircase as it appeared in 2016, is by David Lovell, and first appeared on the Historic England website.

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David Lovell for permission to use his fine photograph of the staircase

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The Salisbury Turkish Baths

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Victorian Turkish Baths: their origin, development, and gradual decline

 
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  Malcolm Shifrin, 1991-2023

NOTES
 1. ' The old staircase at the Plume of Feathers' / by Frogg Moody Salisbury Journal (23 Aug 2018) (Bygone Salisbury) [return]