April 11, 2016

The Roman Spa Town of Bath

The English city of Bath is perhaps best known for its association with Georgian era novelist, Jane Austen. She made the city her home for several years and set two of her novels here: Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.  But Bath was also the site of a Roman public bathing complex that gave the city its name.

The Circus, Bath

The Great Bath was built on natural hot springs first discovered by the ancient Celts. The pool is lined with 45 sheets of lead and steps on all sides lead down into the water. The flat slab of stone where hot water enters the pool is known as the diving stone.

The Great Bath

The Diving Stone

The pool is best viewed from the terrace above, alongside the Victorian statues of Roman emperors. Bath Abbey is also nearby.

The Terrace

Roman Emperor

The Great Bath

Bath Cathedral

The weather in early May was grey and chilly for our visit but the Parade Gardens had been planted with flowers and there were plenty of tourists about. The old Pulteney Bridge and Weir on the River Avon looked much as I imagine they would have in Austen’s time.

Parade Gardens, Bath

Spring in Bath

Pulteney Bridge and  Weir, Bath

I’d like to return someday to visit the Jane Austen Centre’s exhibition on the author’s life in Bath, or have afternoon tea in The Pump Room that was featured in her novels. As for a glass of hot spa water from the salon’s drinking fountain (with forty-three minerals that give the water a “rather unusual taste”) I think I’d give it a pass.

Website: The Roman Baths

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  1. They had mineral baths in a city near where I grew up. You had to hold your nose when driving through. Didn't look anywhere near as lovely as Bath.

    1. Those minerals can often be a little smelly. I remember visiting the hot springs in Banff as a child and there was the distinct odour of sulphur in the air. No problem in Bath, though.


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