Bath is known for its Georgian architecture and elegant history and we were looking forward to visiting.
We travelled to Bath on the National Express bus from Heathrow. This is a fast (less than 2 hours) and comfortable way to make the journey. Although the route lists numerous stops, our bus had only one stop before arriving at the Bath main bus and train station.
We walked along the river to our guest house. The River Avon loops around the city. Interestingly, there are nine rivers which go by the name of Avon situated within Great Britain as the name Avon comes from the ancient Celtic word for river – abona. Therefore the words River Avon, actually mean River River.
We arrived at the Marlborough House Guesthouse and were warmly greeted by the proprietor, Peter. This six room guesthouse is warm and cozy and Peter and his helper, Lily, make you feel at home. The vegetarian breakfasts are plentiful and delicious. The location is great – a short walk to the main attractions but away from the crowds in an elegant neighborhood. The biscuits, chocolate and sherry provided in your room are a lovely touch! If you are considering booking with Peter, mention that you heard of him from us and he will give you the same excellent rate that we paid.
The Mayor of Bath’s Corps of Honorary Guides offer free walking tours (they don’t even accept tips) that provide an understanding of how Bath has developed its rich history and architecture. Our guide, Austin, was excellent on a great tour that lasted over two hours. We would highly recommend taking one of the tours – we developed a much greater appreciation for Bath from the Austin’s information and stories.
The Roman Baths sit at the town centre. Dating from ancient Roman times, the hot spring mineral water (approximately 46 C) was sought after and believed to have healing properties for centuries. You can tour the pool and related museum, although no ‘bathing’ is allowed in the ancient site. For that, you must visit the state-of-the-art Thermae Bath Spa.
We may be the only Bath tourists who did not tour the ancient Roman Bath site. We read about the exhibit and didn’t feel that the booking and waiting in line for entry really suited our interest so we skipped it. Sorry, we can’t offer a review, but you will find lots of info online.
The Bath Abbey (Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul) was built in the early 1500s on the site of a larger Norman Cathedral that was begun in the 1090s. On the front facade are statues of St. Peter and St. Paul with carvings of angels and to either side long stone ladders with angels climbing up them (and some falling down).
The Abbey can seat 1200 and has amazing stained glass. The window behind the altar depicts 52 scenes from the life of Christ.
Edgar was the first monarch to be crowned ‘King of All England’ in the year 973. His coronation took place at the Bath Anglo-Saxon monastery and is depicted in a window.
Bath is the only UK city designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its Georgian architecture greets you around every corner. Beau Nash was Bath’s “Master of Ceremonies” in the 1700’s. Somewhat of a ne’er-do-well, he came into his own organizing society, and making Bath the place to be in England. This resulted in a great Neoclassical building spree.
In the mid-1800’s, John Woods Senior & Junior designed two quintessential Bath complexes.
The Circus, designed by Senior, is a historic ring of townhouses, divided into 3 equal length segments, with a lawn in the centre. Three Classical orders (Greek Doric, Roman/Composite and Corinthian) are used, one above the other, in the elegant curved facades. The frieze of the Doric section is decorated with 525 pictorial emblems, including serpents, nautical symbols, devices representing the arts and sciences, and masonic symbols.
The Royal Crescent, designed by the Junior Woods, is a 500 foot long arc of 30 terraced homes, fronted by a ha-ha – a ditch on which the inner side is vertical and faced with stone, with the outer face sloped and turfed, making an effective but invisible partition between the lower and upper lawns. The ha-ha is designed so as not to interrupt the view from Royal Victoria Park, and to be invisible until seen from close by.
Royal Victoria Park and the Botanic Gardens provided a lovely morning walk.
One afternoon/evening, we walked the three mile canal side path from Bath to Bathampton, where we had a great dinner at the George Inn. It was a lovely walk, and we checked out the many houseboats – and sheep along the way.
The Pulteney Bridge is one of four inhabited bridges in the world (the others being in Venice, Florence and Erfurt). It leads onto the elegant Pulteney Street, Holburne Museum and Sydney Gardens. Fans of the Bridgerton series may recognize some of the areas as much of the series was filmed in Bath.
Here are a few more random pictures on things we saw and places we ate!
We very much enjoyed our visit to Bath – lots to see in this elegant, historic city! More to come on a couple of day trips we took while there in the next few blogs!
Bev & Harvey