Bath, England, known by tourists for its (well, of course) Roman Baths, but offers more to whet the appetite and treat the eyes. Nestled in the county of Somerset in southwest England, Bath is a town famous for its creamy stone buildings and the scenic Avon River that runs through it. Although most people flock to see the often-touted (for good reason) Roman Baths, three other sites will make your trip to Bath even richer.
1. Bath Abbey (The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul)
According to a pamphlet you can pick up in the narthex, Bath Abbey, an Anglican parish church, once served as a monastery in the 8th century. It’s endured destruction in the 1500s, restoration by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 1600s, bombings in 1942, and continual restoration and improvement through today.
Architecturally notable is the ornate fan vaulting installed by Robert and William Vertue between 1864 and 1874. Combined with 52 windows allowing a flood of natural light, the fan vaulting adds an open, airy feel to this cathedral built of natural Bath stone.
If you’re visiting in December, plan to be treated to one of the Bath Abbey concerts (get tickets early) and the pealing of the bells announcing the performances. At the base of the church, shop the stalls of the Bath Christmas markets for goods such as fine wool scarves, pomander balls, and candles.
2. The Circus
Originally known as The King’s Circus, this circular arrangement of Georgian townhouses now known simply as The Circus was begun in 1754 by John Wood the Elder. An architect, Wood was inspired by the prehistoric stone circles seen in England and the form of the Roman Colosseum. Alas, Wood the Elder died before the project began, but his son, John Wood the Younger completed it in 1758.
A closer look at the stonework reveals symbols such as acorns (tributes to the Druids?), serpents, and Masonic emblems.
Our driver took us to the center grassy area (formerly a reservoir) beneath a gnarly tree to demonstrate the reverberating nature of sound bouncing off the circular formation of stone residences. And, you, too, should try this: clap your hands and listen as acoustics take over and send that sound right back to you.
Similar to The Circus and designed by John Wood the Younger, the Royal Crescent (celebrating its 250th anniversary in 2017) is a semi-circular row of 30 terrace houses representing the finest in Georgian architecture. In front of this impressive location for films and TV series, is a “ha-ha,” a recessed area in front of the Crescent designed to be a barrier to livestock, but one that still allows an unobstructed view of the homes. A stay in the Royal Crescent Hotel located in the midst of the row homes would be an impressive stay indeed!
3. Pulteney Bridge
Drive past Pulteney Bridge, park your car, and snap away. One of only four bridges in the world lined with shops, Pulteney Bridge hovers over the Avon River offering a postcard-worthy site to see and send back home.
And if you’re into shopping for quality products and souvenirs, stop in at Guildhall Market for local treats like flags, scarves, and teapots or grab a bite at Guildhall Delicatessen where scotch eggs and pork pies will fill you up with a genuine taste of England.
There’s plenty to see and do in Bath. And we haven’t even seen the headliner: the Roman Baths. We’re saving that for our next post!
Rusha and Bert Sams
For more information:
Bath Abbey: http://www.bathabbey.org/
The Royal Crescent: https://visitbath.co.uk/things-to-do/the-royal-crescent-p56191