List of entries |  Feedback 
  More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

More than 5000 entries on the history, culture and life of Britain (published in 1993 by Macmillan, now out of print)

(85,000 in 1991)
City and spa in Avon. It contains England's best Roman remains and is itself the country's most perfect example of an 18C town, almost unspoilt within a steep protective ring of hills and built throughout in the lovely honey-coloured local limestone. It is the hot springs (49°C/120°F) which have brought visitors and prosperity to Bath.

The Romans called the town Aquae Sulis (the waters of Sul, a local Celtic deity similar to the Roman Minerva), and they built extensive baths connected with a temple to Sul Minerva. These were rediscovered in 1755, by which time the waters of Bath had once again become fashionable under the expert supervision of Beau *Nash. The present Pump Room, where ladies and gentlemen both bathed in and drank the waters, was built in 1791–5 by Thomas Baldwin and John Palmer. The Assembly Rooms, to which visitors repaired for social amusements, are a little earlier – 1768–71 by John *Wood the younger (bombed in 1942, but restored).

The greatest glory of 18C Bath lies in the cumulative effect of its domestic Georgian streets, but it is also distinguished by many outstanding individual features. The Circus is a superb circular piazza (1754–70, by John Wood father and son); two crescents on the steep hillside (Royal Crescent, 1767–75 by the younger Wood; Lansdown Crescent, 1789–93 by John Palmer) are the finest in the country; and Pulteney Bridge over the river Avon, surmounted by tiny Palladian houses (1769–74), is by Robert *Adam.

Bath Abbey survives intact from a slightly earlier period, when the city's prosperity was based on the wool trade rather than the hot springs. There was a Benedictine monastery here from the 10C, but the present church was begun only in 1499; it is therefore an unusually consistent example of the Perpendicular style in Gothic architecture. The angels climbing ladders on either side of the west front had appeared in the dream which prompted the bishop, Oliver King, to build the church. Its interior is notable for the high-flown sentiments on the memorial stones of those who died here in the 18C.

In the old Sydney Hotel (1793–7) the Holburne of Menstrie Museum has an excellent display of paintings and the decorative arts, deriving from the collection of Sir William Holburne (1793–1874). The Victoria Art Gallery, founded in 1900, is Bath's municipal gallery; it has good holdings of the local artist known as Barker of Bath (Thomas Barker, 1769–1847). The Museum of Costume, established in 1963, is housed in the Assembly Rooms. Beckford's Tower survives as the last creation of the rich eccentric William *Beckford, who died in Bath, and *Claverton Manor is now the home of an American Museum.

A  B-BL  BO-BX  C-CH  CI-CX  D  E  F  G  H  IJK  L  M  NO  P  QR  S-SL  SM-SX  T  UV  WXYZ