Bath Things to Do Tips by Dabs Top 5 Page for this destination
Bath Things to Do: 461 reviews and 833 photos
Should I ever get back to Bath, there are still a few things that I'd like to do
There's a free walking tour every day given by the Mayor's Office
The Thermae bath spa reopened after being closed for a number of years, where better to take a bath than Bath?
I still haven't tried one of Sally Lunn's buns
Then there's the Jane Austen Centre, the Fashion Museum, a boat ride on the River Avon.....
Bath Abbey as seen from the Roman Baths
My stop inside the Bath Abbey was very brief since I was on the London Walks tour and they didn't allocate very much time to the interior.
The present Abbey is the third church on this site, the current abbey was founded in 1499, destroyed in 1539 on orders from King Henry VIII after the dissolution of the monasteries and subsequently restored. Legend has is that Bishop Oliver King had a dream and in this dream angels ascended a ladder from heaven and a voice said "Let an olive establish the crown and a king restore the Church." So in 1499, the Bishop Oliver King demolished the Norman cathedral that stood here and replaced it with an Abbey.
The west (entrance) side of the Abbey depicts the dream that the Bishop had, there are angels climbing up ladders and olive trees topped with crown ("Let an olive establish the crown"). And I'm guessing the "king restore the church" part is referring to Bishop "King" and not "King" Henry VII. See pictures 3 and 4 to see the detail.
The Bath Abbey website has a nice tour of the interior of the Abbey which you can take along with you when you visit.
There's no official charge to visit the Abbey but they do request a donation of L2.50.
If you go to Bath, you must go visit the Roman Baths, truly the highlight of my visit here.
The admission price is a little steep at £10 (since we took the train we only paid £5 each) but you could easily spend 2-3 hours looking at the exhibits and remnants of the old Roman Baths. I only had a little less than 2 hours and my visit seemed rushed so make sure you allot plenty of time to visit.
Outside guides are not allowed to give tours inside the baths/museum so our London Walks guide sent us off at the entrance (discounted to L6.80 for our group) with our included audio handset. You can listen to as much or as little of the commentary as you want.
I would highly recommend trying to find one of the live guided tours near the main bath (says hourly on the website), included in the entrance fee, I only caught a short bit of one but it was much more entertaining than listening to the rather dry audio guide.
You start your visit overlooking the main bath, I was quite taken with an amusing statue of Julius Caesar who didn't look Roman at all, turns out the statue was only about 25 years old, the original statue having literally taken a dive into the bath below. The rest of the statues, according to the live guide, only dated back to the Victorian era, the Victorian baths were unknowingly built on top of the Roman Baths which were uncovered later.
After taking lots and lots of photos of the main baths (great backdrop of the Abbey behind it), you can head through the museum to see some of the original parts of the Roman Baths including some interesting mosaics.
Then its to the lower level of the Roman Baths, make sure to go into the alcove by the sacred spring to feel the heat coming off it and don't miss all of the smaller baths off the main bath.
We stopped at the Assembly Rooms while on the Jane Austen tour, they are mentioned in both "Northanger Abbey" and "Persuasion" which are both at least partially set in Bath. Admission to the Assembly Rooms is free, there is a charge for the Fashion Museum.. The Assembly Rooms were designed by John Wood the Younger in 1769 and were the hub of fashionable society in Bath, they would hold balls here for the young ladies to snare the eligible bachelors. The older men would go off and play cards while the mothers of these young ladies scoped the room to find the best match for their daughters.
Pulteney Bridge (2005)
As we strolled into Bath from the train station, we headed along Manvers Street north, once you start to see the Abbey, you should start to see one of the prettiest views in Bath, that of the Pulteney Bridge spanning the River Avon. It was built in 1773 and said to be modeled after the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, Italy, one of only a few bridges to have shops lining the bridge. It's much prettier from the outside, when you cross it, the bridge looks like an ordinary street with shops.
The bridge was designed by Robert Adams and built for William Pulteney to connect his land holdings on the other bank of the Avon to central Bath. The Visitbath website says the best view is from the Parade Gardens park by the crescent weir, we were up at street level.
Bath sits on the River Avon, "avon" means river, it seems kind of silly to have a "River River". And this Avon is a different "River River" than the one in Stratford-upon-Avon, you think they could have given it a unique name.
The Royal Crescent is 30 Georgian houses, laid out in a crescent, built between 1767 and 1774. The architect was John Wood the Younger, who completed the Circus in Bath upon his father's death.
A citation in Wikipedia claims that Wood the Younger and Wood the Elder were interested in the occult and the Masonic Temple and that from overhead the Royal Crescent and Circus symbolize the sun and moon and that the Circus, Gay Street and Queens Square form a key shape which is also a Masonic symbol. As I won't be flying over Bath anytime soon I can't verify this but I thought it was an interesting bit of either trivia or speculation.
Number 1 Royal Crescent is a museum, maintained by the Bath Preservation Trust, where you can see a town house redecorated and furnished to show how it might have appeared in the late 18th century. It was closed for the season when we were there, but our guide said it was well worth a visit.
The Circus in Bath has nothing to do with clowns and lion tamers, circus is the Latin word for circle and the Circus here is a circle of three buildings designed by one of Bath's main architects, John Wood the Elder. The elder Wood died before it was completed so his son John Wood the Younger completed the plans. It is said to be John Wood the Elder's finest work.
There are three segments of buildings forming the circle and each segment has three floors. The exterior is adorned with three different types of columns, Corinthian on the top, Ionic in the middle and Doric on the bottom.
Rented quarters taken after Mr. Austen died
I'm a big fan of Jane Austen so I suggested that we take the Jane Austen tour of Bath given by the Jane Austen Centre and fortunately everyone was game to go. Well, except Mr. Flower, so we left him at home.
The tour leaves from in front of the KC Change Visitor Information Centre in the Bath Abbey Churchyard every Saturday, Sunday and Bank holidays at 11 am and lasts approximately 90 minutes. In July and August, there's an additional tour on Friday and Saturday at 4pm. Cost is £5.00.
The tour takes you to sights that were featured in the two novels set in Bath, "Persuasion" and "Northanger Abbey" plus places Jane Austen and her family lived and frequented in Bath. After Jane's father died you could see that their level of income decreased by the size and location of their lodging. The tour goes inside two of the places featured in the novels, the Pump Room and the Assembly Rooms.
If you have an MP3 player, you can also download a free audio tour that covers the same ground as the walking tour.
Address: Bath Abbey Courtyard
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