It was a tearful goodbye with my dear friend at the train station. We had had such a wonderful time visiting the many areas of the South West, UK together and now I was on my way to Bath for a few days before heading to The Continent.
Bath is in the county of Somerset in the valley of the River Avon and is an outstanding example of Georgian architecture. The whole town of creamy white limestone glistens on a bright sunny day!
It is also a town that has become higher in elevation with each era building on top of the previous era and in essence eradicating it from memory. In fact the Roman Baths are actually below street level of today’s city of Bath and there are other Roman ruins beneath Bath that go in all directions.
There is evidence that the hot springs were part of a shrine to the Celtic goddess Sulis during the Iron Age period. When the Romans conquered and created the baths starting in AD 60 and stretching over a period of 300 years they kept the name Sulis and associated their goddess’ name Minerva to it.
The Roman city was built over by the following eras and it wasn’t until the 1700’s that the ancient Roman city of Aquae Sulis and the Roman Baths were rediscovered and excavation started. The hot springs became a place people would visit to bathe in and to drink for its healing properties. You can still drink the hot spring waters; it does taste a little strange though.
During the Georgian period, architects and city planners John Wood The Elder and John Wood The Younger designed and built the Georgian city that we see today.
It was during this time period that “The Season” came into existence. Hotels and ballrooms, such as the The Pump Room, were built and the wealthy and influential began to visit Bath not only for the hot spring waters but to see and be seen.
The River Avon played a significant role in the development of Bath. It was the means of shipping and receiving of goods and the limestone used to build the city. Today it is possible to walk beside the river on the tow path that the horses used to use to pull the rafts of goods up to the center of town. Long low and narrow river boats still traverse the River Avon and they must pass through several locks in order to do so.
In addition to the beautiful ancient Roman ruins and Georgian architecture, Bath is a mecca of art, culture, music, decor and interior design.
It is possible to see much of Bath within a couple of days. So if you visit, get a map, put on your walking shoes and plunge in!