London Lantern

Putting the Spotlight on London

Day Trips From London - Bath And The Roman Baths

11/06/2002, By Michael Tebbutt

Reader Rating: 2.9 from 24881 votes

The city of Bath is one of the finest stone towns in England. Its finest buildings are mainly Georgian and the city is blessed with great sweeping terraces of extraordinary elegance. A prime example is Number One Royal Crescent, built by John Wood the Younger between 1767-74.

The interiors of such houses provide the basis for much of what is good in classical design to this day. This particular house is the headquarters of the Bath Preservation Trust and visitors are welcome.

The William Herschel Museum currently offers a fascinating exhibition entitled 'Fire in the Sky'. Centred round comets, asteroids and meteors the display asks visitors to consider the feelings of the people of Hastings who, shortly before the Battle of Hastings observed Halley's Comet. One discovers, amongst many other things, that people were still taking anti-comet pills in the 20th century.

The Roman Baths and Pump Room are one of Bath’s most famous attractions. Built in 1795 it includes the spa water fountain, which was sacred to the Romans. Lunches and light refreshments are available during the day but one of the most evocative times to visit is during an August evening. By flickering torchlight one needs little imagination to discern through the steam the ghostly figures of centuries ago.

Bath Abbey stands on the site of an Anglo-Saxon Abbey Church of 757, destroyed by the Normans soon after 1066. In 1090 they started to build their own massive Cathedral, which, by the end of the 15th century lay in ruins, the victim of its size.

It is probably within this abbey church, protected from weathering, that the creamy-white Bath stone is seen at its best, nowhere more so than in the wonderful 16th century fan-vaulted ceiling.

Notable amongst Victorian eccentrics was William Beckford, sometimes know as the ‘fool of Fonthill’ after his Wiltshire folly home which he sought to make into a rival to Salisbury Cathedral Beckford’s Tower was built in Bath as a base for him in this fashionable town, and a retreat where he could house his collections of art and rare books.

Visitors to the Tower can enjoy the commanding views from the top of the Tower. The Landmark Trust leases the ground floor rooms, which can be taken as a holiday flat. The Beckford Tower Trust has ensured that the entire structure is now in good shape and runs the museum dedicated to Beckford’s frequently bizarre life and works.

There is a good range of cafes and pubs. Near the Abbey is Café Retro and seekers after eggs benedict will find their needs met at The Canary. St James Wine Vaults in St James Street attracts a varied and sometimes colourful clientele. For vegetarians there is Porters in George Street.

Gourmet eating in Bath is well provided. If a special celebration is in the air enjoy the English-based classic dishes in the Royal Crescent Hotel. At Maxon’s Diner earn some relief on the pocket at an American-style burger bar, also offering burritos, basmatis and soups.

Probably the best value for money can be found at the Walrus and Carpenter in Barton Street.

Throughout the year there is a wide range of special events, details of which can be found from the Tourist In formation Centre. In particular Christmas Open House on 9 December, featuring four colonial and 19th century buildings, is well worth a visit.

Link to Bath and The Roman Baths:

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