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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Roman Baths, Bath Abbey, Afternoon Tea

Today, we decided to explore the city some more. Took the tour of the Roman Baths and walked around the Abbey. Roman Baths

The Roman Bath complex is a site of historical interest in the English city of Bath. The house is a well-preserved Roman site for public bathing.

The Roman Baths themselves are below the modern street level. There are four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum, holding finds from Roman Bath. The buildings above street level date from the 19th century.

The Baths are a major tourist attraction and, together with the Grand Pump Room receive more than one million visitors a year. Visitors can see the Baths and Museum but cannot enter the water. An audio guide is available in 12 languages.

The water which bubbles up from the ground at Bath falls as rain on the nearby Mendip Hills . It percolates down through limestone aquifers to a depth of between 8,900 and 14,100 ft where geothermal energy raises the water temperature to between 156.2 and 204.8 °F. Under pressure, the heated water rises to the surface along fissures and faults in the limestone. This process is similar to an artificial one known as Enhanced Geothermal System which also makes use of the high pressures and temperatures below the Earth's crust.

Hot water at a temperature of 46 114.8 °F rises here at the rate of 1,170,000 litres (257,364 imp gal) every day, from a geological fault (the Pennyquick fault). In 1983 a new spa water bore-hole was sunk, providing a clean and safe supply of spa water for drinking in the Pump Room.

Michael and I drank some of the water and I must say it is an acquired taste. It isn't as bad as you would think. I can just imagine some of you saying "Yuck!" right about now. Am I correct?

In typically ostentatious style, the Romans constructed a complex of bathhouses above Bath's three natural hot springs, which emerge at a steady 115°F. Situated alongside a temple dedicated to the healing goddess Sulis-Minerva, the baths now form one of the best-preserved ancient Roman spas in the world, and are encircled by 18th- and 19th-century buildings.

The heart of the complex is the Great Bath, a lead-lined pool filled with steaming, geothermally heated water from the so-called 'Sacred Spring' to a depth of 1.6m. Though now open-air, the bath would originally have been covered by a 45m-high, barrel-vaulted roof.

In the time of the Romans, the water would have been clear as there was a roof overhead. Today, it is a murky green because of the sun shining overhead.

More bathing pools and changing rooms are situated to the east and west, with excavated sections revealing the hypocaust system that heated the bathing rooms. After luxuriating in the baths, Romans would have reinvigorated themselves with a dip in the circular cold-water pool, which now has life-size films of bathers projected on to the walls.

In the times of the Romans they bathed in the nude. It wasn't until the Victorian era that modesty came back into fashion.

The King's Bath was added sometime during the 12th century around the site of the original Sacred Spring. Every day, 1.5 million liters of hot water still pour into the pool. Beneath the Pump Room are the remains of the Temple of Sulis-Minerva.

There is also a fascinating museum displaying artifacts discovered on the site. Look out for the famous gilded bronze head of Minerva and a striking carved Gorgon's Head, as well as some of the 12,000-odd Roman coins thrown into the spring as votive offerings to the goddess.

The complex of buildings around the baths were built in stages during the 18th and 19th centuries. John Woods designed two of the buildings around the Sacred Spring, while the famous Pump Room was built by their contemporaries, Thomas Baldwin and John Palmer, in neoclassical style, complete with soaring Ionic and Corinthian columns. The building now houses a restaurant which serves a magnificent afternoon tea (£22, or £31 with champagne). You can also sample the spring waters, which were believed in Victorian times to have curative properties.

Afternoon Tea

Later on in the day, Michael and I decided to go back for Afternoon Tea as we thought it was quite a lovely experience the first time.

We had another trio perform. They played more classical music than the other trio. Michael recorded two of their selections. I wanted to share one with you but the Internet is too slow here at the bed and breakfast and it wouldn't download. Maybe we will try again another day.


For those of you whom know me very well, know that shopping is NOT a high priority but I was in the mood to go shopping this afternoon. I can just hear some of you saying: "WHAT????? !!!!!!!" The city has "shopping streets", Bath's indoor Guildhall Market, etc. Yes, I actually purchased things and I had fun!!!

Bath Abbey

Michael and I spent many hours exploring the Abbey. I wrote individual prayer intentions for everyone on my list. I lit many candles, too.

I decided to follow the Prayer Trail while exploring the Abbey.

This is the welcoming.

God has been worshiped on this site since 675, and we are pleased that you are here to continue in the tradition of pilgrims coming to ancient sites to see, to pray and to remember the life of faith.

This prayer trail is one way of entering into the spiritual life of this holy place. You might like to use the prayers written on this booklet or make up your own- God loves to hear from us whatever we say.

There has been a place of Christian worship on this site for well over a thousand years. However, the Abbey has undergone many transformations and changes during this time, and much like the city of Bath has experienced rise and falls in fortune, survived a number of major conflicts, architectural and religious reforms, and two World Wars, but still stands proudly today as an essential place for both worshipers and visitors.

As the history of this sacred place stretches as far back as Anglo-Saxon times, there is a great deal to discover: tales of Kings and Queens, saints and sinners, as well as stories of ordinary people.


  • Three different churches have occupied the site of today’s Abbey since 757 AD. First, an Anglo-Saxon monastery which was pulled down by the Norman conquerors of England; then a massive Norman cathedral which was begun about 1090 but lay in ruins by late 15th century; and finally, the present Abbey Church as we now know it.

  • The first King of all England, King Edgar was crowned on this site in 973 (as shown above). The service set the precedent for the coronation of all future Kings and Queens of England including Elizabeth II.

  • The first sight most visitors have of Bath Abbey is the West front, with its unique ladders of Angels. The story behind this is that the Bishop of Bath, Oliver King, is said to have had a dream of angels ascending and descending into heaven which inspired the design and which also inspired him to build a new Abbey church – the last great medieval cathedral to have been built in England.

  • After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 by order of King Henry VIII, the Abbey lay in ruins for more than 70 years. It wasn’t until 1616, that much of the building we see today was repaired and in use as a parish church and over two hundred years later, in the 1830s, that local architect George Manners added new pinnacles and flying buttresses to the exterior and inside, built a new organ on a screen over the crossing, more galleries over the choir and installed extra seating.

  • The Abbey as we know it is the work of Sir George Gilbert Scott, who from 1864 to 1874, completely transformed the inside of the Abbey to conform with his vision of Victorian Gothic architecture. His most significant contribution must surely be the replacement of the ancient wooden ceiling over the nave with the spectacular stone fan vaulting we see today.

Timeline of major events


Lands around Bath were granted to a ‘Convent of Holy Virgins’.The reference to this grant is in a much later charter, but may refer to the convent which is supposed to have been founded by Abbess Bertana.


A charter records a grant of land near Bath to the brothers of the Monastery of St Peter in Bath. At this point there may have been a convent and a monastery existing side by side.


King Offa of Mercia claims ownership of the abbey at Bath.The abbey and its lands had previously been held by the Bishop of Worcester.


Edgar is crowned King of all England in the Saxon abbey. Archbishops Dunstan of Canterbury and Oswald of York perform the ceremony.


St Alphege is appointed Abbot of the monastery at Bath by Archbishop Dunstan. His mission is to the reform the monastery which by this time had become very lax in its observance of the Benedictine Rule.


John of Tours becomes Bishop of Wells. In 1091 he is granted lands including the monastery at Bath, and transfers his seat to Bath. In future the Abbey is run by the Prior, who is answerable to the Bishop.


The foundation of the Norman cathedral. Bishop John begins a building programme which includes additional monastic buildings and a huge cathedral to replace the Saxon abbey.


Bath and Wells share cathedral status. Roger of Salisbury becomes the first Bishop of the joint diocese of Bath and Wells.


The beginnings of the present-day Abbey. Newly appointed Bishop Oliver King is said to have a dream of angels ascending and descending into heaven, which inspires him to build a new Abbey church – the last great medieval cathedral to be built in England.


King Henry VIII pushes ahead with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. On the 27 January 1539 Prior Holloway and eighteen monks surrender the Priory to the King’s officials and sign the Deed of Dissolution. The Abbey, and other monastic buildings and land, are sold to private individuals.


Bath citizen Edmund Colthurst presents the abbey church to the City Corporation for use as a parish church. At this point in time the building is in decay: the nave has no roof, and the end wall of the south transept has fallen in.


Queen Elizabeth I grants a licence permitting fundraising for the restoration of the still ruined Abbey. The principal benefactors are Thomas Bellot, steward to Queen Elizabeth’s Treasurer, and James Montagu, Bishop of Bath and Wells. Many private citizens from Bath donate money; and their names are recorded in a ‘Book of Benefactors’, still in the Abbey’s possession.


The restoration of the Abbey is completed. It begins its service as a parish church for the city of Bath. At this point in time the Abbey is owned and administered by the City Corporation.


Local architect George Manners is commissioned by the City Corporation to restore the Abbey. Manners adds new pinnacles and flying buttresses to the exterior of the Abbey. Inside he builds a new organ on a screen over the crossing, more galleries over the choir and installs extra seating.


The City Corporation sell the rights to the living for Bath Abbey to the evangelical Charles Simeon. To this day the Simeon Trustees appoint the Rector of Bath Abbey, ensuring the transmission of a broadly low church tradition.


Landscape architect John Claudius Loudon designs a new cemetery for the Abbey. The Abbey cemetery was consecrated on 23 January 1844; and the first burial took place on 12 February. The last people to be buried in the Abbey were the Hillicar sisters, who were buried in a family vault in the Abbey in January 1845.


Sir George Gilbert Scott is commissioned by the Rector Charles Kemble to carry out a major restoration of the Abbey. The interior of the Abbey is transformed by their Victorian Gothic vision. The organ is removed from its position over the crossing to the north transept, pews are installed throughout the building and the wooden ceiling over the nave is replaced by the stone fan vaulting.


Sir Thomas Jackson is commissioned to restore the West Front and the exterior stonework of the Abbey. A number of the figures on the West Front are replaced with new carvings, including the figure of St Bartholomew.


Sir Thomas Jackson creates a memorial to those citizens of Bath who died in the First World War. The Norman chapel is reordered as a War Memorial Chapel. This chapel, dedicated in 1922, is now known as the Gethsemane chapel, continuing its longstanding theme of commemoration and reconciliation. A new War Memorial cloister is built on the south side of the Abbey next to the south transept, dedicated on Armistice Day, 1927.


Sir Harold Brakspear redesigns the East End of the Abbey. He removes the Ten Commandments which had previously been visible on the far wall behind the Altar, adds pillars on either side with statues of St Alphege and St Dunstan, Bishops John of Tours and Oliver King.


The ‘Bath Blitz’ takes place on the nights of 25, 26 & 27 April. In the city 400 people are killed, and 872 are wounded. St James’ Church in the city centre is almost completely destroyed. The blast from a bomb falling on the Recreation Ground blows out the Great East Window and all the windows on the north side of the Abbey.


Foundation of the Friends of Bath Abbey and the launch of the post-war restoration programme. Queen Mary becomes the first ‘Friend’ and Patron. Their aim is to raise enough money to repair the war damage to the Abbey, but it soon becomes clear that there are many other longstanding repairs needing to be carried out. The Friends’ initial fund-raising target is £80,000.


The Book of Remembrance is dedicated and put on display in the Abbey. This illuminated book is inscribed by Benjamin Maslen and records the names of all civilians and military personnel from Bath who died between 1939 and 1945. It can still be viewed in the Gethsemane chapel.


The post-war restoration programme is completed.During this period the Friends of Bath Abbey raise £100,000. A service of thanksgiving is held on 23 March 1960 in the presence of the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.


Queen Elizabeth II visits the Abbey to mark the coronation of King Edgar in the Abbey in 973. A commemorative plaque is placed in the chancel floor.

Tonight, I'm not going to write individual explanations for each picture. Just enjoy them

Click on the link below to see the pictures.

I will end my writing with The Ending from the Prayer Trail.

As you go on your way, here is a prayer of blessing:

God bless me as I go from here.

May all I have prayed be held in your loving heart.

Bless those for whom I have prayed,

and bring us all to the joy of your kingdom

As we put our trust in you.

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