24 Feb 2024

Medical and Surgical Home, Catharine Place, Bath

The Medical and Surgical Home ghost sign on Catharine Place, Bath, is the remnant of a basic utilitarian sign. However, the brief notes in Ghost Signs of Bath highlight something that is so far unexplained about its location.

“The Medical and Surgical Home was a private nursing home which operated from the late nineteenth century to the late 1940s, and which, according to the directories, occupied 8 Upper Church Street and 16 Catharine Place. As these are opposite No.15, on the south side of the street, it is unclear why the sign was painted here.”

Ghost Signs of Bath, p.81
Fading painted letters on a slab of stone on a wall. They are painted in a simple block style, surrounded by a thin right-angled border, and read "Medical and Surgical Home".
The simple Medical and Surgical Home ghost sign set within a single slab of stone on the wall. Photo: Tim Lindsay.

I wondered about a typographical error in the directories — so 16 entered instead of 15 — but the presence of the neighbouring address on Upper Church Street suggests otherwise. Another possible explanation is that the building was used as storage space, or offices, separate from the nursing home itself. However, we would probably expect to find a record of that in the directories, too.

In this view of Catharine Place, the ghost sign is circled on the right, while the nursing home location is on the left.

Perhaps the most obvious explanation is that the sign was directional. In the picture above you can see the respective locations of the sign and the nursing home entrance, and how it would be logical to have some directional signage there. However, the absence of an arrow or manicule, and the clear containment of the lettering within a border, does not support this theory. Perhaps the sign’s purpose was simply to encourage pedestrians to stop, and look around before seeing more prominant signage on the nursing home itself?

I wonder if I’m missing something but, as things stand, none of the explanations are wholly satisfactory…

Medical and Surgical Home

15 Catharine Place, Bath BA1 [Streetview]

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