The rain stopped for long enough yesterday for us to fit in a visit to Bath. It threatened all day, but we managed to stay dry – it was pretty cold, though. Coats were the order of the day.
Bath is lovely. It’s a bit difficult to photograph though, because it’s all around you. What do you choose? Obviously there are some very significant buildings like the Abbey and Royal Crescent, but the charm of the city is all around you all the time. All the buildings are of Bath stone – even the modern ones, so the old blends with the new. You couldn’t be anywhere else. You really have to be in it to experience it.
The first thing you see is Bath Abbey:
We started with the tourist bus, as always. There are 2 bus routes around Bath for the one price – the City and the Skyline. The Skyline route takes you to the outskirts of the city where there is lots of interest. We learnt all about Ralph Allen, an entrepreneur and philanthropist, who made his money in Bath first of all by reforming the postal system and then made a further fortune marketing Bath stone.
He built a huge house for himself, Prior Park, of Bath stone, situated on a hill that overlooks the town. As he said ‘to see all Bath and for all Bath to see’. (not my picture as we couldn’t see the front of the house from the bus):
He is commemorated not only by the house, but by a road called Ralph Allen Drive and Ralph Allen School. In 1738 he gave the money and the stone for the building of The Mineral Water Hospital – now the Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases.
We saw where Jane Austen lived and where she took her morning walks on her ‘gravel path’. She set two of her books in Bath – Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. I’ve never read Northanger Abbey, so it’s probably a good time to start it – which I have done. Free on Kindle…
In the park in the city centre is a planted quote from Jane Austen:
After lunch (found a cafe doing a low carb all day breakfast – yay!!), we went off to see the things we wanted to get a closer look at.
First was The Assembly Rooms. I’ve heard this building referred to so many times in all the period novels I read, but never knew what it looked like or where it was situated, so it was fascinating to be in there. The outside of the building:
Some magnificent chandeliers from inside the rooms:
Here are some better pictures (not mine) of how the rooms would have looked thronged with people in Austen’s and the same room today:
People would often arrive at the Rooms by sedan chair – carried on poles by one man in front and one behind. This is an old chair minus its poles:
Floor plan of the rooms:
Then we went off to see the Royal Crescent which is just a short walk away. Absolutely stunning:
And the entrance to No.1 Royal Crescent which you can go into:
The houses have 5 stories – from the kitchens, scullery, servants hall and housekeepers room in the basement, right up to the servants sleeping areas in the attics. The attics are the only part not open to the public. This particular house was bought by a Henry Sandford who lived here alone after his wife died. Subsequently it was used as a school and then as individual lodgings with suitable alterations having been made to suit each purpose. In 1968 it was bought by Mr Bernard Cayzer who supported its restoration as a historic house and the headquarters of the Bath Preservation Trust.
The last stop on our list was the Roman Baths. We’d seen a very long queue in the morning and thought we may not have time for it if we had to stand in a queue like that, but returning at 4 o’clock, we just walked straight in. Good decision!
This is a fascinating visit. There’s a scale model of the site as it would have been in Roman times and you can go down and see the what remains of this. Some parts are very recognisable such as the entrance to the temple and the altar – which was outside in the courtyard in front of the temple.
The main bath:
Part of the exhibition shows the spring water flowing in. There are 42 different minerals in the water. The Romans apparently spotted the steam rising from the ground when they were up in the hills exploring the area. They had no idea about all of the minerals, they just knew that the more they bathed in the water the better they felt. Interestingly, Bath is built on 7 hills like Rome. The picture below shows how the minerals in the water have turned the rock bright orange.
And, lastly a novelty – loved these umbrellas which were over a couple of streets in the town. Very appropriate for the weather we’re having here…
It’s still raining here today. I wonder will it stop before we leave?