A DAY IN BATH

On a recent trip to England, I put a long overdue visit to Bath on my bucket list, and I wasn’t disappointed, but with so much to see, a day long trip is not long enough. After a two hour journey from London we arrived just before 11am determined to see as much as we could, with Bath Abbey and the famous Roman Baths our first stop. England has had a very wet fall and it was raining as we followed fellow passengers on the short walk into town from the station, but the rain had not deterred visitors. The lovely old town, famous for its Georgian architecture, and a longtime centre of culture and fashion was bustling and alive with action.

Bath Abbey is among the gems of English cathedrals and churches, a place of worship since 757 AD with wonderful stained glass windows and an imposing façade. It fell into ruin after the dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII in 1539 but was gradually restored with its most recent restoration in Victorian times by famous architect Sir Gilbert Scott, who replaced the wooden ceiling over the nave with a spectacular stone fan ceiling. Currently it is undergoing another massive restoration and visiting is somewhat restricted at the present time, due to the building work.

Across the churchyard, the Roman Baths were renowned as a Spa throughout the ancient world. Hot springs have bubbled up from the nearby Mendip Hills since the spa was first constructed in 60 – 70 AD. and flourished for the next 300 years. They came into fashion again during the Regency period when the Grand Pump room was constructed in 1799. and fashionable people including Jane Austen frequented the town to sample the waters.

A winner of several Prestigious Tourism Awards in 2018, the most recent renovation is a marvellous combination of the new, enhancing the old. Most of the original complex has been excavated and you can follow the trail on a walkway through the four main features, the Sacred spring, Roman temple, Roman bathhouse, and the Museum which contains many artifacts uncovered from Roman times and the tour ends with a taste of the waters in the Pump room. It is all enhanced by digital displays which add to the presentation, and we found it all so fascinating, it was hard to leave.

Bath has a wide choice of dining establishments, and we were ready for a quick lunch at one of the many little cafes in the town. I purchased a jar of “Bill’s” homemade chutney, specially wrapped for me to take home to Canada by our friendly server, before heading to the Holborne Museum at the top of elegant Great Pulteney Street, and the Fashion Museum and Assembly rooms, still in regular use, up on the hill. Walking along Great Pulteney Street, with its Croquet club and immaculate gardens, heart of fashionable Bath in Regency times, it is easy to imagine Jane Austen out for a stroll with her ladies, and the area remains quiet and elegant today

It was time for us to leave, but not before enjoying tea and scones on historic Pulteney Bridge, overlooking the river, and as we dodged the rain to return to London, we wished we could stay longer, as our taste of Bath and all it has to offer, was far too short.

For WHATS ON IN BATH – check out visitbath.co.uk or @visitbath

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