Bath Abbey & Roman Baths (Somerset - England)

Somewhere between London and Stone Henge was another UNESCO World Heritage Site - Bath! As soon as I read the name, I knew it was associated with Roman Baths and I could expect something similar to Caerleon. Its about 3 hrs travel from London by bus.
Its the only city in England that's completely under UNESCO as a whole city, unlike sites where its only 1 or few properties. The first feel that I got there was that the city was just frozen in a Roman Era! The streets, buildings were all ancient with stone paved roads, circular buildings with Corinthian columns - it was all frozen in time, standing side by side with H&Ms, Debenhams etc!!!!! 
My first destination was the Bath Abbey, a spectacular church still in service. To begin with, its ancient. Just below the present structure is the ancient Norman Cathedral which has a very different from the present structure. There is a section where the flooring is grilled to see the Norman pillars within.
The beginning of the original cathedral start in 757 by Anglo Saxon as the Monastry of St Peter. Later in 1088 when Bishop John of Tours was granted the City of Bath by King William Rufus. By 1090 he began the planning and it was completed in 1160, after his death by Bishop Robert of Lewis in a very very large area on whose nave is the entire church of today. Later on by 1495, it fell almost in decay! And by 1539 with the religious reformations by Hentry VIII, it was stripped down. From 1574 its restoration began under Queen Elizabeth I. The present structure is the work of Sir George Gilbert Scott from 1864-74. Bombing happened here during WWII in 1942 and certain portions, esp the east window, were damaged which were again rebuilt!

The abbey was just mindblowingly spectacular with its high ceiling, organ with several pipes and the most important - stained glass windows - about 7-8 of them on the sides and a huuuuge spectacular one behind the altar. This east window is 864 sq ft of stained glass of which 60% is original from before the World War.

The North and South Transept were on either sides midway. There were so many tombstones all over the place. In the South Transept, is this tomb and sarcophagus of Jane, wife of Sir William Waller. It looks so personal with a sculpture of himself as well! Very touching, indeed! Beside this was a section of stained glass that depict various people with the name of a country beneath incl St. George India. Perhaps, they were the ones who traveled to spread the religion!
The facade of the church is breathtaking! The whole facade was filled with angels! The quirky section if where the angels are climbing a ladder! This was after Bishop Oliver King had a dream of angels ascending to and descending from heaven! The top section is entirely filled with Angels with God Father at the centre. 

From there, my next point was Roman Baths. It was pretty much similar to Caerleon Roman Baths but more extensive andddd hot!!! Remember Vajreshwari? Pretty similarly, its a thermal hotsprings. The same Tepidarium (warm water), Caldarium (hot steam), and Frigidarium (cold water) are here too. The earliest coins found here were not the Roman coins, but by the local tribes from 43AD. The classic The earliest inscription here dates it to 76 AD. The places is really well maintained, and also has depiction and animations and dressed up real people who bring the feel of ancient Rome! 
Close to the bath house should have been a temple which is not there today. This was the temple of Sulis Minerva which was 15m tall. A triangular facade atop was supported by 4 corinthian columns. The stone work on the facade with all its gorgeous relief sculpture is there today but in a few pieces here and there. However a light projection on the broken pieces of carved stones, mounted on the wall, completes the picture to give an idea of the original glory. The central figure is said to be of Medusa! However, I doubt, it looks like a 'he' & not 'she' and the hair doesn't really look like snakes!!!

There is also a museum display of the artifacts excavated from here incl pottery, jewelry, combs, coins over various era etc. Also there's a huge stone coffin with the remains of a man! There's also an altar with relief sculptures still intact and a bronze head of Sulis Minerva.
Touching the water isn't allowed, however the steam that came out of the bath is proof enough to know how hot the water was!!!

From there my next stop wasn't within Bath, but on the way to Bristol - Avon Valley Railway! It is a restored Victorian railway station with a few trains that still run on steam and diesel. Originally it belonged to the Midland Railway Mangotsfield and Bath line which was in operation from 1869 to 1966. Since 1972, few locals formed a group to try and restore the line and by 1974 a small portion of 100 yards had railway movement. It was further extended and by 1991 a longer ride was made possible! You can also travel in the train which runs for very few days every month. 
Btw, unfortunately, the day didn't begin so well for me! First I missed the bus and took the next bus, thereby reaching Bath only by noon. Since most attraction here have a last entry of 4pm, all I had was about 4 hrs! Next, it was pouring out, meaning no cruise and hop-in hop-off bus tours!!! 
Third, a lady at the Tourist Information Centre, gave me a wrong info and I ended up boarding a wrong bus (my stupidity, I should have cross checked with GMaps!) and ended walking for about an hour to reach Avon Rail which could have been completely avoided in the pressed-for-time day!!! So finally all I got to see were the Bath Abbey, Roman Baths and Avon Valley Railway!!! I have to go once again to see the rest of the placaes.


To Get There:
Nearest railway & bus station: Bath
Entry Ticket: £15.00 for Roman Bath, rest all free
Available to buy online on their website.
Tickets to ride in the train vary acc to train, date etc.

P.S: I was invited by visitBath to experience the city for review purposehowever the opinions are my own and this post does not to advertise the product/service.


Dedicated to Venkat

Bhushavali N

An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.

10 comments:

  1. Wow the fabulous Abbey must have made up for your frustrating adventure. Studying and teaching art history is one thing but seeing these places for yourself must be quite something else. I wish I could visit these places too

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  2. The 3-hour ride is going to be worth the trip. The Roman Bath is what interests me the most. It makes me happy that a lot of history & culture are preserved in this churches and our generation is lucky that we have these to give us a glimpse of what it was like to have lived centuries ago. Old churches never fail to fascinate me.

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  3. I have read a lot about Bath in my search for places to visit. It seems so surreal to find a Roman city in England, frozen in time as you referred to it. The place looks beautiful and bursting with history and culture.

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  4. It's always nice to visit old churches, the ones that have stood against the test of time. This is really beautiful and I'm so glad that they do as much as they can to take care of the old structures.

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  5. This is truly one of one the sights outside London that I am definitely going to visit when I get there. Amazing how these ancient structures remain up to this day.

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  6. London has so many beautiful structures. Good that you are documenting all such places.

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  7. Wow, now those are some visuals. I love the architecture in Europe.

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  8. The long hours journey and the ride makes it to be a worthy trip. This is a great experience

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  9. It nice to see the royal structures up close. There's so much story in these structures and it gives you a glimpse of the olden times.

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  10. I couldn't imagine myself going there one day! I'll surely be leaving the place in awe. I really find it amazing how other places manage to keep and preserve the ancient structures. Hoping to be able to step a foot there, soon.

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