"Bath's cathedral church" Top 5 Page for this destination Bath Abbey Tip by toonsarah

Bath Abbey, Bath: 77 reviews and 169 photos

  Bath Abbey - West Front
by toonsarah
  • Bath Abbey - West Front - Bath
      Bath Abbey - West Front
    by toonsarah
  • Bath Abbey - detail of West Front - Bath
      Bath Abbey - detail of West Front
    by toonsarah
  • Bath Abbey - ceiling - Bath
      Bath Abbey - ceiling
    by toonsarah
  • Bath Abbey - interior - Bath
      Bath Abbey - interior
    by toonsarah
  • Bath Abbey at night - Bath
      Bath Abbey at night
    by toonsarah

In most of southern England?s cathedral cities the cathedral sits a little apart from the bustle of the city, screened from it by a green and peaceful ?close? as the surrounding leafy lawns are known. But here in Bath the Abbey is tucked in among the shops and houses of the city centre so that you come across it suddenly, turning a corner to see its great West Front rising above you.

There has been a church on this site for twelve and a half centuries. The Abbey as we see it today was founded in 1499, was ruined after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 by order of Henry VIII, and was finally completed in 1611. Prior to that was a massive Norman cathedral which had been allowed to fall into ruins as it was too large for the monastery it served, and before that an Anglo Saxon church which had been pulled down by the Normans.

The West Front represents the dream of Bishop Oliver King that led him, in 1499, to demolish the ruined Norman cathedral and replace it with the present Abbey. I loved the little angels climbing the stone ladders (photo 2), but couldn?t find out any details of this dream in my research.

There is officially no charge to visit inside the Abbey, though it would take a little nerve perhaps to ignore the person who sits at the counter just inside the door offering a leaflet in return for the ?suggested donation? of 2.50. And with the extensive costs of maintaining the building it?s hard to begrudge this relatively small payment. Inside you will find an impressive space with elegant fan vaulted ceilings (see photo 3), beautiful stained glass windows and a few interesting monuments. I especially liked the east window, photo 4, which depicts 56 scenes from the life of Christ (a similar window in the West Front shows scenes from the Old Testament).

With more time I would have been tempted to take a tour of the Abbey's tower, which is open every day except Sunday. Visitors are promised a panoramic and unrivalled view of the city as reward for climbing the 212 steps to the top of the tower, but the dull weather on the day of my visit made this a less enticing promise than it would otherwise have been, though I would have liked to sit inside the Abbey's clock face! These tours run every hour and cost 5.

At night the Abbey is beautifully illuminated as you can sort of see from my 5th photo.

Directions: At the centre of the city in Abbey Church Yard
Phone: 44-1225-422462
Website: http://www.bathabbey.org/index.htm

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Mar 15, 2009
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