Five things to know about Bath Abbey*
- Three different churches have occupied the site of today’s Abbey since 757 AD. First, an Anglo-Saxon monastery which was pulled down by the Norman conquerors of England; then a massive Norman cathedral which was begun about 1090 but lay in ruins by late 15th century; and finally, the present Abbey Church as we now know it.
- The first King of all England, King Edgar was crowned on this site in 973 (as shown above). The service set the precedent for the coronation of all future Kings and Queens of England including Elizabeth II.
- The first sight most visitors have of Bath Abbey is the West front, with its unique ladders of Angels. The story behind this is that the Bishop of Bath, Oliver King, is said to have had a dream of angels ascending and descending into heaven which inspired the design and which also inspired him to build a new Abbey church – the last great medieval cathedral to have been built in England.
- After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 by order of King Henry VIII, the Abbey lay in ruins for more than 70 years. It wasn’t until 1616, that much of the building we see today was repaired and in use as a parish church and over two hundred years later, in the 1830s, that local architect George Manners added new pinnacles and flying buttresses to the exterior and inside, built a new organ on a screen over the crossing, more galleries over the choir and installed extra seating.
- The Abbey as we know it is the work of Sir George Gilbert Scott, who from 1864 to 1874, completely transformed the inside of the Abbey to conform with his vision of Victorian Gothic architecture. His most significant contribution must surely be the replacement of the ancient wooden ceiling over the nave with the spectacular stone fan vaulting we see today.
The Pump Room
Situated next to main street entrance to the Roman Baths, visitors can sample the waters from the warm spring which fills the Roman Baths. The building also houses a restaurant, where it is popular to sample the afternoon tea.
The Roman Baths
The house is a well-preserved Roman site for public bathing. The Roman Baths themselves are below the modern street level. There are four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum holding finds from Roman Bath. The buildings above street level date from the 19th century.
The Pulteney Bridge
The bridge features two ranges of shops designed in the Palladian style c. 1770, between them forming a narrow street over the bridge. The street and buildings sit above three segmental arches of equal span.
The shops on the north side have cantilevered rear extensions. Consequently the northern external façade of the bridge is asymmetrical, much altered and of no architectural merit, whereas the southern external side clearly shows the hand of Robert Adam.
Sydney Gardens (formerly Bath Vauxhall Gardens)
The Sydney Gardens are the only remaining 18th century pleasure gardens in England.
The gardens were constructed in the 1790s opening in 1795 as a commercial pleasure grounds, following the development of Bathwick by Sir William Pulteney, 5th Baronet across the River Avon from the city centre. The original plans were by Thomas Baldwin and completed by Charles Harcourt Masters who included a maze or labyrinth, grotto, sham castle and an artificial rural scene with moving figures powered by a clockwork mechanism. The gardens were illuminated by over 15,000 “variegated lamps”. Around 1810 the Kennet and Avon Canal was built through the gardens.
The Sydney Hotel
The Sydney Hotel was built within the gardens. The original design for the hotel, prepared by Thomas Baldwin in 1794, was a two-storey building which would serve the pleasure gardens. After Baldwin was bankrupted his design for the hotel was not implemented. Instead a three-storey building was designed by Charles Harcourt Masters. The foundation stone was laid in 1796 and the building was ready by 1799. Visitors entered the gardens through the Hotel. Projecting from the rear of the building at first floor level was a conservatory and a semi-circular Orchestra with a wide covered loggia below. Two semi-circular rows of supper boxes projected from the sides of the building. The gardens were used daily for promenades and public breakfasts which were attended by Jane Austen among others. At public breakfasts tea, coffee, rolls and Sally Lunn buns were served at about midday, followed by dancing. There were generally three evening galas each summer, usually on the birthdays of George III and the Prince of Wales, and in July to coincide with the Bath races. During these galas the gardens were lit with thousands of lamps and the guests took supper accompanied by music and fireworks. Breakfasts, coffee-drinking, newspaper-reading and card-playing took place in the ground floor of the Hotel and dancing in a ballroom on the first floor. All the rooms could be hired for private parties and meetings.
The Assembly Rooms
The Assembly Rooms formed the hub of fashionable Georgian society in the city, the venue being described as “the most noble and elegant of any in the kingdom” They were originally known as the Upper Rooms as there was also a lower assembly room in the city, which closed soon after the Upper Rooms opened. They served the newly built fashionable area which included The Circus, Queen Square and the Royal Crescent.
People would gather in the rooms in the evening for balls and other public functions, or simply to play cards. Mothers and chaperones bringing their daughters to Bath for the social season, hoping to marry them off to a suitable husband, would take their charge to such events where, very quickly, one might meet all the eligible men currently in the City.
The Theatre Royal
The present main entrance to the Theatre Royal, in Sawclose, was built in 1720 by Thomas Greenway, and was Beau Nash’s first house. The exterior of the building, with arches, pilasters, garlands and ornaments, which is visible from Beauford Square, was designed by George Dance the Younger and erected by John Palmer.
The theatre itself was erected in 1805, replacing the Old Orchard Street Theatre which was also called the Theatre Royal, which is now a Freemason’s Hall.
The theatre is said to be haunted by The Grey Lady, who was an actress centuries ago. She has been seen watching productions in the Grey Lady Box, and she leaves the distinctive scent of Jasmine. She has been seen and scented in recent years.Text from Wikipedia.
About The Third MacPherson Sister (part of the Sweet Summer Kisses anthology)
After a disastrous fourth Season in London, Rebecca and her mother take refuge in Bath to determine their next course of action. Rebecca has always known she’ll never be able to measure up to her older sisters, the “Golden Twins,” who were the reigning queens of the ton in their day, but surely there is a gentleman somewhere capable of appreciating her finer qualities.
Miles Framingham, Duke of Aylesbury, finds himself in need a wife… although he doesn’t really want one. Burdened with the responsibilities of a dukedom from a young age, what he really yearns for is freedom. Marriage to the right woman, though, might not be such an onerous task.
When the hapless Rebecca finds herself pushed into the lap of this eminently eligible duke in the nave of Bath Abbey, a match between them seems ordained by the heavens… except for the little matter of his past history with her sisters.
Bluestockings and wallflowers seek happily-ever-afters. Only handsome, respectable and deeply romantic persons need apply. Dukes and marquesses will be given special consideration. Apply within.
This anthology contains nine fun, heart-tugging, and wholesomely romantic Regency novellas that are as sigh-worthy as they are sweet, brought to you by USA Today and national bestselling, award-winning authors.