Thursday, September 16, 2010


Bath is something special. Imagine a city the size of Ballarat where all buildings are made of the same material, and the unity it would give. Even now all buildings must be of Bath stone. This is the charm of the place. Bath stone is now very expensive. There is a re-constituted product which is apparently acceptable, and veneers are permitted over concrete. But the consistency remains. There are supermarkets and shopping centres here which just blend in. Apart from just being very attractive, the other part of it's charm is, like York, it's 2000 years of recorded history is just so evident. This must have been an important place for all who have inhabited it.
And- the first king of England (Edgar) was crowned here.

Roman Baths. These are part of an excavation & Museum which extends well under the city. The Roman city of Bath is about 8 metres under the present city. No -nobody goes in the water. There is a Spa complex, with all the indulgences we are familiar with, if you pay for it.

The excavations under the city around the 3 springs & numerous baths are well displayed and interpreted. The water is not nearly as mineral as ours in Central Vic. And it is very flat. Worst thing is it comes out of the ground hot- 45*c - which is very nice for bathing, but they serve it like this for drinking! One taste was enough- revolting. You'd have to believe very strongly that it was good for you to tolerate it.

We did a tour of the tower of the Bath Abbey. This is looking down from half-way up the tower towards the Roman Baths.

The Abbey tower clock from the inside.

Fan vaulting on the ceiling of the Abbey -from below.

And from above. We went into some of the roof spaces on our way to the bell chamber.

For Richard - secret bell-ringing business. They have 10 bells here & the ringers have to climb 212 steps to get to this Ringing Room. They are arranged anti-clockwise. Apparently the convention is to arrange clockwise (in descending pitch) but these are so old they pre-date any conventions.

Bath from the Abbey tower -in the rain

Black Bath. We did a walking tour with a guide who said that when he moved there in 1960's all the buildings were black- discoloured by exposure & centuries of smoke. Govt. subsidies have helped to clean most of the buildings, and it's unusual now to see black ones.

This is how the look when cleaned.

Assembly Hall - social gathering place in the 'new' Bath (1700's). This is the Ball Room. There is a Tea room, Card room, Billiard room etc. Was destroyed in WW2- only the chandeliers survived- in what they call the 'Beidecker Raids' because the tourist guidebook was used to choose bombing targets. Has been rebuilt as near to original as is known. If you really try you can imagine yourself in a Georgette Heyer novel here.

The Royal Crescent is as impressive as photos. Magnificent sweep of buildings on the hill overlooking the gardens. Bath nestles into two hills on either side of the river Avon, so there are lots of attractive views from either side.

The gravel walk, linking 'old' and 'new' Bath. Those of you who've read Jane Austen's 'Persuasion' will know this spot. She lived in Bath and most of her books are set wholly or partly here. There is a Jane Austen Museum & Jane Austen Tours.

It rained all day on our last day here, so we were looking for indoor things to do. Which left us with shopping or some more Museums. As luggage is the last thing we need, we went to a Museum about the Spa history of Bath, and a Postal Museum. Which were interesting in their own way: ie- how many of you know that Queen's Freddie Mercury was an avid stamp collector? When he died the Royal Mail bought his extensive collection and display it sometimes. You don't really associate him with philately.
Apparently there's also a Baked Bean Museum somewhere in UK - but I doubt we'll have time to track it down.....J

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