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Coordinates: 51°22′51″N 2°21′37″W / 51.3809°N 2.3603°W / 51.3809; -2.3603

City of Bath
Royal.crescent.aerial.bath.arp.jpg
The Royal Crescent in Bath
City of Bath is located in Somerset
City of Bath

 City of Bath shown within Somerset
Population 83,992 [1]
OS grid reference ST745645
    - London  99 miles (159 km) E 
Unitary authority Bath and North East Somerset
Ceremonial county Somerset
Region South West
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town BATH
Postcode district BA1, BA2
Dialling code 01225
Police Avon and Somerset
Fire Avon
Ambulance Great Western
EU Parliament South West England
UK Parliament Bath
List of places: UK • England • Somerset

Bath (pronounced /ˈbɑːθ/) is a city in the ceremonial county of Somerset in the south west of England. It is situated 97 miles (156 km) west of London and 13 miles (21 km) south-east of Bristol. The population of the city is 83,992.[1] It was granted city status by Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1590,[2] and was made a county borough in 1889 which gave it administrative independence from its county, Somerset. The city became part of Avon when that county was created in 1974. Since 1996, when Avon was abolished, Bath has been the principal centre of the unitary authority of Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES).

The city was first established as a spa resort with the Latin name, Aquae Sulis ("the waters of Sulis") by the Romans in AD 43 although verbal tradition suggests that Bath was known before then.[3] They built baths and a temple on the surrounding hills of Bath in the valley of the River Avon around hot springs, which are the only ones naturally occurring in the United Kingdom.[4]. Edgar was crowned king of England at Bath Abbey in 973.[5] Much later, it became popular as a spa resort during the Georgian era, which led to a major expansion that left a heritage of exemplary Georgian architecture crafted from Bath Stone.

As City of Bath, the city became a World Heritage Site in 1987. The city has a variety of theatres, museums, and other cultural and sporting venues, which have helped to make it a major centre for tourism, with over one million staying visitors and 3.8 million day visitors to the city each year.[6] The city has two universities and several schools and colleges. There is a large service sector, and growing information and communication technologies and creative industries, providing employment for the population of Bath and the surrounding area.

Contents

History

Celtic and Roman

Photograph of the Baths showing a rectangular area of greenish water surrounded by yellow stone buildings with pillars. In the background is the tower of the abbey.
The Great Bath at the Roman Baths. The entire structure above the level of the pillar bases is a later reconstruction.

Archaeological evidence shows that the site of the Roman Baths' main spring was treated as a shrine by the Celts,[7] and was dedicated to the goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva; however, the name Sulis continued to be used after the Roman invasion, leading to the town's Roman name of Aquae Sulis (literally, "the waters of Sulis").[8] Messages to her scratched onto metal, known as curse tablets, have been recovered from the Sacred Spring by archaeologists.[9] These curse tablets were written in Latin, and usually laid curses on people by whom the writer felt they had been wronged. For example, if a citizen had his clothes stolen at the baths, he would write a curse, naming the suspects, on a tablet to be read by the Goddess Sulis Minerva.

The temple was constructed in 60–70 AD and the bathing complex was gradually built up over the next 300 years.[4] During the Roman occupation of Britain, and possibly on the instructions of Emperor Claudius,[10] engineers drove oak piles into the mud to provide a stable foundation and surrounded the spring with an irregular stone chamber lined with lead. In the 2nd century, the spring was enclosed within a wooden barrel-vaulted building,[7] which housed the calidarium (hot bath), tepidarium (warm bath), and frigidarium (cold bath).[11] The city was given defensive walls, probably in the 3rd century.[12] After the Roman withdrawal in the first decade of the 5th century, the baths fell into disrepair and were eventually lost due to silting up.[13]

Post-Roman and Saxon

A vertical inscribed stone rising from gras with treest in the background.
The Nävelsjö runestone commemorating a Viking who died in Bath.

Bath may have been the site of the Battle of Mons Badonicus (c. 500 AD), where King Arthur is said to have defeated the Saxons, although this is disputed.[14] The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle mentions Bath falling to the West Saxons in 577 after the Battle of Deorham.[15] The Anglo-Saxons called the town Baðum, Baðan or Baðon, meaning "at the baths," and this was the source of the present name.[15] In 675, Osric, King of the Hwicce, set up a monastic house at Bath, probably using the walled area as its precinct.[16] The Anglo-Saxon poem known as The Ruin may describe the appearance of the Roman site about this time. King Offa of Mercia gained control of this monastery in 781 and rebuilt the church, which was dedicated to St. Peter.[17] By the 9th century the old Roman street pattern had been lost and Bath had become a royal possession, with King Alfred laying out the town afresh, leaving its south-eastern quadrant as the abbey precinct.[18] Edgar of England was crowned king of England in Bath Abbey in 973.[5]

Norman, Medieval and Tudor

Yellow stone building with large arched windows and a tower.
Bath Abbey From The Roman Baths Gallery

King William Rufus granted the city to a royal physician, John of Tours, who became Bishop of Wells and Abbot of Bath in 1088.[19][20] It was papal policy for bishops to move to more urban seats, and he translated his own from Wells to Bath.[21] He planned and began a much larger church as his cathedral, to which was attached a priory, with the bishop's palace beside it.[19] New baths were built around the three springs. However, later bishops returned the episcopal seat to Wells, while retaining the name of Bath in their title as the Bishop of Bath and Wells.

By the 15th century, Bath's abbey church was badly dilapidated and in need of repairs.[22] Oliver King, Bishop of Bath and Wells, decided in 1500 to rebuild it on a smaller scale. The new church was completed just a few years before Bath Priory was dissolved in 1539 by Henry VIII.[23] The abbey church was allowed to become derelict before being restored as the city's parish church in the Elizabethan period, when the city experienced a revival as a spa. The baths were improved and the city began to attract the aristocracy. Bath was granted city status by Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1590.[2]

Early modern

During the English Civil War, the Battle of Lansdowne was fought on 5 July 1643 on the northern outskirts of the city.[24] Thomas Guidott, who had been a student of chemistry and medicine at Wadham College Oxford, moved to Bath and set up practice in 1668. He became interested in the curative properties of the waters and he wrote A discourse of Bathe, and the hot waters there. Also, Some Enquiries into the Nature of the water in 1676. This brought the health-giving properties of the hot mineral waters to the attention of the country and soon the aristocracy started to arrive to partake in them.[25]

Aerial photograph of semicircular terrace of stone buildings with large expanse of grass in front and to the left. Also shows surrounding terraces of buildings.
The Royal Crescent from the air: Georgian taste favoured the regularity of Bath's streets and squares and the contrast with adjacent rural nature.

Several areas of the city underwent development during the Stuart period, and this increased during Georgian times in response to the increasing number of visitors to the spa and resort town who required accommodation.[26] The architects John Wood the elder and his son John Wood the younger laid out the new quarters in streets and squares, the identical façades of which gave an impression of palatial scale and classical decorum.[27] Much of the creamy gold Bath stone which was used for construction throughout the city, was obtained from the limestone Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines, which were owned by Ralph Allen (1694–1764).[28] Allen, in order to advertise the quality of his quarried limestone, commissioned the elder John Wood to build him a country house on his Prior Park estate between the city and the mines.[28] He was also responsible for improving and expanding the postal service in western England, for which he held the contract for over forty years.[28] Though not fond of politics, Allen was a civic-minded man, and served as a member of the Bath Corporation for many years. He was elected Mayor of the city for a single term, in 1742, at age 50.[28]

The early 18th century saw Bath acquire its first purpose-built theatre, the Theatre Royal, along with the Grand Pump Room attached to the Roman Baths and assembly rooms. Master of Ceremonies Beau Nash, who presided over the city's social life from 1705 until his death in 1761, drew up a code of behaviour for public entertainments.[29]

Late modern

The population of the city had reached 40,020 by the time of the 1801 census, making it one of the largest cities in Britain.[30] William Thomas Beckford bought a house in Lansdown Crescent in 1822, eventually buying a further two houses in the crescent to form his residence. Having acquired all the land between his home and the top of Lansdown Hill, he created a garden over half a mile in length and built Beckford's Tower at the top.[31]

Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia spent the four years of his exile, from 1936 to 1940, at Fairfield House in Bath.[32] During World War II, between the evening of 25 April and the early morning of 27 April 1942, Bath suffered three air raids in reprisal for RAF raids on the German cities of Lübeck and Rostock, part of the Luftwaffe campaign popularly known as the Baedeker Blitz. Over 400 people were killed, and more than 19,000 buildings were damaged or destroyed.[33] Houses in the Royal Crescent, Circus and Paragon were burnt out along with the Assembly Rooms, while part of the south side of Queen Square was destroyed.[34]

A postwar review of inadequate housing led to the clearance and redevelopment of large areas of the city in a postwar style, often at variance with the Georgian style of the city. In the 1950s the nearby villages of Combe Down, Twerton and Weston were incorporated into Bath to enable the development of further housing, much of it council housing. In the 1970s and 1980s it was recognised that conservation of historic buildings was inadequate, leading to more care and reuse of buildings and open spaces. In 1987 the city was selected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognising its international cultural significance.[35]

Since 2000, developments have included the Bath Spa, SouthGate and the Bath Western Riverside project.[36]

Governance

Coat of arms showing a shield with two silver wavy lines on a blue background and a brick wall with battlements. In the centre of the shield is a sword. On either side of the shield are a lion and a bear standing on a bed of acorns. Above them is a knight's helmet and crown.
Coat of arms of the City of Bath

Historically part of the county of Somerset, Bath was made a county borough in 1889 and hence independent of the newly created administrative Somerset county council.[37] Bath became part of Avon when that non-metropolitan county was created in 1974. Since the abolition of Avon in 1996, Bath has been the main centre of the unitary authority of Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES).[38] Bath remains, however, in the ceremonial county of Somerset, though not within the administrative non-metropolitan county of Somerset.

The City of Bath's ceremonial functions, including the mayoralty – which can be traced back to 1230 – and control of the coat of arms, are now maintained by the Charter Trustees of the City of Bath.[39] The coat of arms includes two silver strips, which represent the River Avon and the hot springs. The sword of St. Paul is a link to Bath Abbey. The supporters, a lion and a bear, stand on a bed of acorns, a link to Bladud, the subject of the Legend of Bath. The knight's helmet indicates a municipality and the crown is that of King Edgar.[40]

Before the Reform Act 1832 Bath elected two members to the unreformed House of Commons.[41] Bath now has a single parliamentary constituency, with Liberal Democrat Don Foster as Member of Parliament. His election was a notable result of the 1992 general election, as Chris Patten, the previous Member (and a Cabinet Minister) played a major part, as Chairman of the Conservative Party, in getting the government of John Major re-elected, but failed to defend his marginal seat in Bath. Don Foster has been re-elected as the MP for Bath in every election since. His majority was significantly reduced from over 9,000 in both the 1997 and 2001 general elections to 4,638 in 2005.[42]

The electoral wards of the Bath and North East Somerset unitary authority within Bath are the central Abbey, Kingsmead and Walcot wards, and the more outlying Bathwick, Combe Down, Lambridge, Lansdown, Lyncombe, Newbridge, Odd Down, Oldfield, Southdown, Twerton, Westmoreland, Weston and Widcombe wards.[43]

Geography

Physical geography

Bath is at the bottom of the Avon Valley, and near the southern edge of the Cotswolds, a range of limestone hills designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The hills that surround and make up the city have a maximum altitude of 238 metres (780 ft) on the Lansdown plateau. Bath has an area of 29 square kilometres (11 sq mi).[44]

A iron bridge spanning water. In the background is a yellow stone building. On the left tress reach out over the water.
Cleveland House and the cast iron bridges of Sydney Gardens over the Kennet and Avon Canal

The surrounding hills give Bath its steep streets and make its buildings appear to climb the slopes. The flood plain of the River Avon, which runs through the centre of the city, has an altitude of about 18 metres (59 ft) above sea level.[45] The river, once an unnavigable series of braided streams broken up by swamps and ponds, has been managed by weirs into a single channel. Nevertheless, periodic flooding, which shortened the life of many buildings in the lowest part of the city, was normal until major flood control works in the 1970s.[46]

The water which bubbles up from the ground, as geothermal springs, previously fell as rain on the Mendip Hills. It percolates down through limestone aquifers to a depth of between 2700 and 4300 metres (c. 9000-14,000 ft) where geothermal energy raises the water temperature to between 64 and 96 °C (c. 147-205°F). Under pressure, the heated water rises to the surface along fissures and faults in the limestone. This process is similar to an artificial one known as Enhanced Geothermal System which also makes use of the high pressures and temperatures below the Earth's crust. Hot water at a temperature of 46 °C (115 °F) rises here at the rate of 1,170,000 litres (257,364 imp gal) every day,[47] from a geological fault (the Pennyquick fault). In 1983 a new spa water bore-hole was sunk, providing a clean and safe supply of spa water for drinking in the Pump Room.[48] There is no universal definition to distinguish a hot spring from another geothermal spring, though by several definitions, the Bath springs can be considered the only hot springs in the UK. Three of these springs feed the thermal baths.

Climate

Along with the rest of South West England, Bath has a temperate climate which is generally wetter and milder than the rest of England. The annual mean temperature is about 10 °C (50 °F). Temperature has a seasonal and a diurnal variation, but due to the modifying effect of the sea the range is less than in most other parts of the UK. January is the coldest month with mean minimum temperatures between 1° and 2°C (34°-36°F). July and August are the warmest months, with mean daily maxima around 21 °C (70 °F).[49]

South West England has a favoured location with respect to the Azores High when it extends its influence north-eastwards towards the UK, particularly in summer. Convective cloud often forms inland however, especially near hills, reducing the number of hours of sunshine. The average annual sunshine totals between 1,400 and 1,600 hours.[49]

Rainfall tends to be associated with Atlantic depressions or with convection. The Atlantic depressions are more vigorous in autumn and winter and most of the rain which falls in those seasons in the south-west is from this source. Average rainfall for the Bath-Bristol area is around 800 to 900 millimetres (31 to 35 in).[50] November to March have the highest mean wind speeds, with June to August having the lightest winds. The predominant wind direction is from the south-west.[49]

Yeovilton climate: Average maximum and minimum temperatures, and average rainfall recorded between 1971 and 2000 by the Met Office.
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average max. temperature °CF) 8.1
(46.6)
8.3
(46.9)
10.6
(51.1)
12.9
(55.2)
16.5
(61.7)
19.3
(66.7)
21.7
(71.1)
21.5
(70.7)
18.6
(65.5)
14.8
(58.6)
11.1
(52.0)
9.0
(48.2)
14.4
(57.9)
Average min. temperature
°C (°F)
1.4
(34.5)
1.3
(34.3)
2.7
(36.9)
3.7
(38.7)
6.8
(44.2)
9.7
(49.5)
11.9
(53.4)
11.7
(53.1)
9.6
(49.3)
6.9
(44.4)
3.6
(38.5)
2.4
(36.3)
6.0
(42.8)
Rainfall
mm(inches)
72.0
(2.84)
55.6
(2.19)
56.6
(2.23)
47.3
(1.86)
48.9
(1.93)
57.2
(2.25)
48.9
(1.93)
56.6
(2.23)
64.5
(2.54)
67.9
(2.67)
65.8
(2.59)
83.3
(3.28)
724.5
(28.52)
Source: Met Office

Demography

Rectangular yellow stone building with flat roof and arched doorway.
Christadelphian Hall, New King Street

As of 2001 the city of Bath has a population of 83,992.[1] According to the UK Government's 2001 census, Bath, together with North East Somerset, which includes areas around Bath as far as the Chew Valley, has a population of 169,040, with an average age of 39.9 (the national average being 38.6). Demographics shows according to the same statistics, the district is overwhelmingly populated by people of a white ethnic background at 97.2% – significantly higher than the national average of 90.9%. Other ethnic groups in the district, in order of population size, are multiracial at 1%, Asian at 0.5% and black at 0.5% (the national averages are 1.3%, 4.6% and 2.1%, respectively).[51]

The district is largely Christian at 71%, with no other religion reaching more than 0.5%. These figures generally compare with the national averages, though the non-religious, at 19.5%, are significantly more prevalent than the national 14.8%. 7.4% of the population describe themselves as "not healthy" in the last 12 months, compared with a national average of 9.2%; nationally 18.2% of people describe themselves as having a long-term illness, in Bath it is 15.8%.[51]

Culture

Yellow/Gray stone bridge with three arches over water which reflects the bridge and the church spire behind. A weir is on the left with other yellow stone buildings behind.
The 18th-century Pulteney Bridge by Robert Adam

Bath became the leading centre of fashionable life in England during the 18th century. It was during this time that Bath's Theatre Royal was built, as well as architectural developments such as Lansdown Crescent,[52] the Royal Crescent,[53] The Circus and Pulteney Bridge.[54]

Today, Bath has five theatresBath Theatre Royal, Ustinov Studio, the egg, the Rondo Theatre, and the Mission Theatre – and attracts internationally renowned companies and directors, including an annual season by Sir Peter Hall. The city also has a long-standing musical tradition; Bath Abbey is home to the Klais Organ and is the largest concert venue in the city,[55] with about 20 concerts and 26 organ recitals each year. Another important concert venue is the Forum, a 1,700-seat art deco building which originated as a cinema. The city holds the Bath International Music Festival and Mozartfest every year. Other festivals include the annual Bath Film Festival, Bath Literature Festival (and its counterpart for children), the Bath Fringe Festival and the Bath Beer Festival, and the Bach Festivals which occur at two and a half year intervals.

The city is home to the Victoria Art Gallery,[56] the Museum of East Asian Art, and Holburne Museum of Art,[57] numerous commercial art galleries and antique shops, as well as numerous museums, among them Bath Postal Museum, the Fashion Museum, the Jane Austen Centre, the Herschel Museum of Astronomy and the Roman Baths.[58] The Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution, now in Queen Square, and founded in 1824 on the base of a 1777 Society for the encouragement of Agriculture, Planting, Manufactures, Commerce and the Fine Arts, has an important collection and holds a programme of talks and discussions.

Bath in the arts

Tow pig statues in front of yellow stone building with arched windows. The nearest status is multi coloured band being ridden by person.
Two of 104 decorated pigs on display in the city. This was a public art event, called "King Bladud's Pigs in Bath" celebrating the city, its origins and its artists. Decorated pig sculptures were on display throughout the summer of 2008, to be later auctioned to raise funds for Bath's Two Tunnels route.

During the 18th century Thomas Gainsborough and Sir Thomas Lawrence lived and worked in Bath.[59][60] John Maggs, a painter best known for his coaching scenes, was born and lived in Bath with his artistic family.[61] William Friese-Greene began experimenting with celluloid and motion pictures in his studio in Bath in the 1870s, developing some of the earliest movie camera technology there. He is credited as the inventor of cinematography.[62]

Jane Austen lived in the city from 1801 with her father, mother and sister Cassandra, and the family resided in the city at four successive addresses until 1806.[63] However, Jane Austen never liked the city, and wrote to her sister Cassandra, "It will be two years tomorrow since we left Bath for Clifton, with what happy feelings of escape."[64] Despite these feelings, Bath has honoured her name with the Jane Austen Centre and a city walk. Austen's later Northanger Abbey and Persuasion are largely set in the city and feature descriptions of taking the waters, social life, and music recitals. Taking the waters is also described in Charles Dickens' novel The Pickwick Papers in which Pickwick's servant, Sam Weller, comments that the water has "a very strong flavour o' warm flat irons", while the Royal Crescent is the venue for a chase between two of the characters, Dowler and Winkle.[65] Moyra Caldecott's novel The Waters of Sul is set in Roman Bath in 72 AD. Richard Brinsley Sheridan's play The Rivals takes place in the city,[66] as does Roald Dahl's chilling short-story, The Landlady.[67]

Many films and television programmes have been filmed using the architecture of Bath as the backdrop including: the 2004 film of Thackeray's Vanity Fair,[68] The Duchess (2008),[68] The Elusive Pimpernel (1950)[68] and The Titfield Thunderbolt (1953).[68]

In August 2003 the Three Tenors sang at a special concert to mark the opening of the Thermae Bath Spa, a new hot water spa in Bath City Centre; delays to the project meant the spa actually opened three years later on 7 August 2006.

Parks

Large green area with small open sided structure in the middle. Behind is a yellow couloured building.
Parade Gardens in July after a rain shower

The city has several public parks, the main one being Royal Victoria Park, which is a short walk from the centre of the city. It was opened in 1830 by an 11-year-old Princess Victoria, and was the first park to carry her name.[69] The park is overlooked by the Royal Crescent and is 23 hectares (57 acres) in area.[70] It has a variety of attractions.[71] including a skateboard ramp, tennis courts, bowling, a putting green and a 12- and 18-hole golf course, a pond, open air concerts, and a popular children's play area. Much of its area is lawn; a notable feature is the way in which a ha-ha segregates it from the Royal Crescent, while giving the impression to a viewer from the Crescent of a greensward uninterrupted across the Park down to Royal Avenue. It has received a "Green Flag award", the national standard for parks and green spaces in England and Wales, and is registered by English Heritage as a Park of National Historic Importance.[72] The 3.84 hectares (9.5 acres) botanical gardens were formed in 1887 and contain one of the finest collections of plants on limestone in the West Country.[73] The replica of a Roman Temple was used at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924.[74] In 1987 the gardens were extended to include the Great Dell, a disused quarry that was formally part of the park, which contains a large collection of conifers.

Other parks in Bath include: Alexandra Park, which crowns a hill and overlooks the city; Parade Gardens, along the river front near the Abbey in the centre of the city; Sydney Gardens, known as a pleasure-garden in the 18th century; Henrietta Park; Hedgemead Park; and Alice Park. Jane Austen wrote of Sydney Gardens that "It would be pleasant to be near the Sydney Gardens. We could go into the Labyrinth every day."[75] Alexandra, Alice and Henrietta parks were built into the growing city among the housing developments.[76] There is also a linear park following the old Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway line, and, in a green area adjoining the River Avon, Cleveland Pools were built around 1815.[77] It is now the oldest surviving public outdoor lido in England,[78] and plans have been submitted for its restoration.[79]

Food

Building with large white framed windows.
Sally Lunn's, home of the Sally Lunn Bun

Bath is linked to a variety of foods that are distinctive in their association with the city. The Sally Lunn buns (a type of teacake) have long been baked in Bath. They were first mentioned by that name in verses printed in a local newspaper, the Bath Chronicle, in 1772.[80] At that time they were eaten hot at public breakfasts in the city's Spring Gardens. They can be eaten with sweet or savoury toppings. These are sometimes confused with Bath buns which are smaller, round, very sweet, very rich buns that were associated with the city following The Great Exhibition. Bath buns were originally topped with crushed comfits created by dipping caraway seeds repeatedly in boiling sugar; but today seeds are added to a 'London Bath Bun' (a reference to the bun's promotion and sale at the Great Exhibition).[81] The seeds may be replaced by crushed sugar granules or 'nibs'.

Bath has also lent its name to one other distinctive recipe – Bath Olivers – the dry baked biscuit invented by Dr William Oliver, physician to the Mineral Water Hospital in 1740.[82] Oliver was an early anti-obesity campaigner and the author of a "Practical Essay on the Use and Abuse of warm Bathing in Gluty Cases".[82] In more recent years, Oliver's efforts have been traduced by the introduction of a version of the biscuit with a plain chocolate coating. The Bath Chap, which is the salted and smoked cheek and jawbones of the pig, takes its name from the city.[83] It is still available from a stall in the daily covered market. Although there is a brewery named Bath Ales, located a few miles away in Warmley, Abbey Ales are brewed in the city.[84]

Sport

Bath Rugby is a rugby union team which is currently in the Guinness Premiership league and coached by Steve Meehan.[85] It plays in black, blue and white kit at the Recreation Ground in the city, where it has been since the late 19th century, following its establishment in 1865.[86] The team's first major honour was winning the John Player Cup four years consecutively from 1984 until 1987.[86] The team then led the Courage league for six consecutive seasons, from 1988/1989 until 1995/1996, during which time it also won the Pilkington Cup in 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, 1995 and 1996.[86] It finally won the Heineken Cup in the 1997/1998 season, and topped the Zürich Premiership (now Guinness Premiership) in 2003–2004.[86] The team's current squad includes several members who also play in the English national team including: Lee Mears, David Flatman. Nick Abendanon and Matt Banahan. Colston's Collegiate School, Bristol has had a large input in the team over the past decade, providing several current 1st XV squad members. The former England Rugby Team Manager Andy Robinson used to play for Bath Rugby team and was captain and later coach. Both of Robinson's predecessors, Clive Woodward and Jack Rowell, were also former Bath coaches and managers as well as his successor Brian Ashton.

Bath City F.C. and Team Bath F.C. (affiliated with the University of Bath) are the major football teams. Both teams play in the Conference South - in 2007, Bath City became champions of the Southern Football League, and were promoted,[87] whilst Team Bath were promoted the following year after winning the Southern League Premier Division playoffs. In 2002, Team Bath became the first university team to enter the FA Cup in 120 years, and advanced through four qualifying rounds to the first round proper.[88] The university's team was established in 1999, while the city team has existed since before 1908 (when it entered the Western League).[87] Bath City F.C. play their games at Twerton Park.

Many cricket clubs are based in the city, including Bath Cricket Club, who are based at the North Parade Ground and play in the West of England Premier League. Cricket is also played on the Recreation Ground, just across from where the Rugby is played. The Rec's cricket ground is the venue for the annual Bath Cricket Festival which sees Somerset County Cricket Club play several games. The Recreation Ground is also home to Bath Croquet Club, which was re-formed in 1976 and is affiliated with the South West Federation of Croquet Clubs.[89]

The Bath Half Marathon is run annually through the city streets, with over 10,000 runners.[90] Bath also has a thriving cycling community, with places for biking including Royal Victoria Park, 'The Tumps' in Odd Down/east, the jumps on top of Lansdown, and Prior Park. Places for biking near Bath include Brown's Folly in Batheaston and Box Woods, in Box. Bath is also the home of the Bath American Football Club, which has been playing American Football in the city since 2001.[91]

TeamBath is the umbrella name for all of the University of Bath sports teams, including the aforementioned football club. Other sports for which TeamBath is noted are athletics, badminton, basketball, bob skeleton, bobsleigh, hockey, judo, modern pentathlon, netball, rugby union, swimming, tennis, triathlon and volleyball. The City of Bath Triathlon takes place annually at the university.

Industry

Bath once had an important manufacturing sector, led by companies such Stothert and Pitt. Nowadays manufacturing is in decline in the city, but it boasts strong software, publishing and service-oriented industries, being home to companies such as Future Publishing and London & Country mortgage brokers. The city's attraction to tourists has also led to a significant number of jobs in tourism-related industries. Important economic sectors in Bath include education and health (30,000 jobs), retail, tourism and leisure (14,000 jobs) and business and professional services (10,000 jobs).[6] Its main employers are the National Health Service, the two universities and the Bath and North East Somerset Council, as well as the Ministry of Defence, although a number of MOD offices formerly in Bath have now moved to Bristol. Growing employment sectors include information and communication technologies and creative and cultural industries where Bath is one of the recognised national centres for publishing,[6] with the magazine publisher Future Publishing employing around 650 people. Others include the Helphire Group,[92] an accident management company specialising in non-fault motor accidents (800 jobs), Buro Happold (400) and IPL Information Processing Limited (250).[93] The city contains over 400 retail shops, 50% being run by independent specialist retailers, and around 100 restaurants and cafes which are primarily supported by tourism.[6]

Tourism

Gray paved area with lots of people around brightly dressed performer. To the right is a yellow stone building and in the background the tower of the abbey.
Bath is popular with tourists in the summer. The entertainer is performing in front of Bath Abbey; the Roman Baths are to the right.

One of Bath's principal industries is tourism, with more than one million staying visitors and 3.8 million day visitors to the city on an annual basis.[6] The visits mainly fall into the categories of heritage tourism and cultural tourism. aided by the city's selection in 1987 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, recognising its international cultural significance.[35] All significant stages of the history of England are represented within the city, from the Roman Baths (including their significant Celtic presence), to Bath Abbey and the Royal Crescent, to Thermae Bath Spa in the 2000s. The size of the tourist industry is reflected in the almost 300 places of accommodation – including over 80 hotels, and over 180 bed and breakfasts – many of which are located in Georgian buildings. The history of the city is displayed at the Building of Bath Museum which is housed in a building which was built in 1765 as the Trinity Presbyterian Church. It was also known as the Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel, as she lived in the attached house from 1707 to 1791.[94] Two of the hotels have 'five-star' ratings.[95] There are also two campsites located on the western edge of the city. The city also contains about 100 restaurants, and a similar number of public houses and bars. Several companies offer open-top bus tours around the city, as well as tours on foot and on the river. Since 2006, with the opening of Thermae Bath Spa, the city has attempted to recapture its historical position as the only town in the United Kingdom offering visitors the opportunity to bathe in naturally heated spring waters.

Twinned towns

Bath has five twinned towns:[96]

Bath also has a partnership agreement with Manly, New South Wales, Australia.[96]

Transport

Bath is approximately 13 miles (21 km) south-east of the larger city and port of Bristol, to which it is linked by the A4 road, and is a similar distance south of the M4 motorway. In an attempt to reduce the level of car use Park and Ride schemes have been introduced, with sites at Odd Down, Lansdown and Newbridge, with a Saturdays-only site at the University of Bath. In addition a Bus Gate scheme in Northgate aims to reduce private car use in the city centre.[97] National Express operates coach services from Bath Bus Station to a number of cities. Internally, Bath has a network of bus routes run by First Group, with services to surrounding towns and cities. There is one other company running open top double-decker bus tours around the city.

The city is connected to Bristol and the sea by the River Avon, navigable via locks by small boats. The river was connected to the River Thames and London by the Kennet and Avon Canal in 1810 via Bath Locks; this waterway – closed for many years, but restored in the last years of the 20th century – is now popular with narrowboat users.[98] Bath is on National Cycle Route 4, with one of Britain's first cycleways, the Bristol & Bath Railway Path, to the west, and an eastern route toward London on the canal towpath. Although Bath does not have an airport, the city is about 18 miles (29 km) from Bristol International Airport.

Bath is served by the Bath Spa railway station (designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel), which has regular connections to London Paddington, Bristol Temple Meads, Cardiff Central, Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance (see Great Western Main Line), and also Westbury, Warminster, Salisbury, Southampton, Portsmouth and Brighton (see Wessex Main Line). Services are provided by First Great Western. There is a suburban station on the main line, Oldfield Park, which has a limited commuter service to Bristol as well as other destinations. Green Park Station was once the terminus of the Midland Railway,[99] and junction for the Somerset and Dorset Joint Railway, whose line, always steam hauled, went under Bear Flat through the Combe Down Tunnel and climbed over the Mendips to serve many towns and villages on its 71-mile (114 km) run to Bournemouth. This example of an English rural line was closed by Beeching in March 1966. Its Bath station building, now restored, houses shops, small businesses, the Saturday Bath Farmers Market and parking for a supermarket, while the route of the Somerset and Dorset within Bath is to be reused for the Two Tunnels Greenway, a shared use path that will extend National Cycle Route 24 into the city.

A tram system was introduced in the late 19th century opening on 24 December 1880. The 4 ft  (1,219 mm) gauge cars were horse-drawn along a route from London Road to the Bath Spa railway station, but the system closed in 1902. It was replaced by electric tram cars on a greatly expanded 4 ft 8+12 in (1,435 mm) gauge system that opened in 1904. This eventually extended to 18 miles (29 km) with routes to Combe Down, Oldfield Park, Twerton, Newton St Loe, Weston and Bathford. There was a fleet of 40 cars, all but 6 being double deck. The first line to close was replaced by a bus service in 1938, and the last went on 6 May 1939.[100]

Architecture

City of Bath*
UNESCO World Heritage Site

Aerial photograph showing streets and crescents of yellow buildings surrounded by vegetation
State Party Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Type Cultural
Criteria i, ii, iv
Reference 428
Region** Europe and North America
Inscription history
Inscription 1987  (11th Session)
* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.
** Region as classified by UNESCO.

There are many Roman archaeological sites throughout the central area of the city, but the baths themselves are about 6 metres (20 ft) below the present city street level. Around the hot springs, Roman foundations, pillar bases, and baths can still be seen, however all the stonework above the level of the baths is from more recent periods.[101]

Bath Abbey was a Norman church built on earlier foundations, although the present building dates from the early 16th century and shows a late Perpendicular style with flying buttresses and crocketed pinnacles decorating a crenellated and pierced parapet.[102] The choir and transepts have a fan vault by Robert and William Vertue.[103] The nave was given a matching vault in the 19th century.[104] The building is lit by 52 windows.[105]

Ornate yellow stone building with tower, partially obscured by trees.
The Abbey seen from the east

Most buildings in Bath are made from the local, golden-coloured Bath Stone, and many date from the 18th and 19th century. The dominant style of architecture in Central Bath is Georgian;[106] this evolved from the Palladian revival style which became popular in the early 18th century. Many of the prominent architects of the day were employed in the development of the city. The original purpose of much of Bath's architecture is concealed by the honey-coloured classical façades; in an era before the advent of the luxury hotel, these apparently elegant residences were frequently purpose-built lodging houses, where visitors could hire a room, a floor, or (according to their means) an entire house for the duration of their visit, and be waited on by the house's communal servants.[107] The masons Reeves of Bath were prominent in the city from the 1770s to 1860s.

"The Circus" consists of three long, curved terraces designed by the elder John Wood to form a circular space or theatre intended for civic functions and games. The games give a clue to the design, the inspiration behind which was the Colosseum in Rome.[108] Like the Colosseum, the three façades have a different order of architecture on each floor: Doric on the ground level, then Ionic on the piano nobile and finishing with Corinthian on the upper floor, the style of the building thus becoming progressively more ornate as it rises.[108] Wood never lived to see his unique example of town planning completed, as he died five days after personally laying the foundation stone on 18 May 1754.[108]

Interior of large building with a stained glass window at the far end. Above is a barrel vault ceiling and on either side rows of arches. People standing at the bottom of the picture dwarfed by the height of the ceiling.
Fan vaulting over the nave at Bath Abbey, Bath, England. Made from local Bath stone, this is a Victorian restoration (made in the 1860s) of the original roof from 1608

The best known of Bath's terraces is the Royal Crescent, built between 1767 and 1774 and designed by the younger John Wood.[109] But all is not what it seems; while Wood designed the great curved façade of what appears to be about 30 houses with Ionic columns on a rusticated ground floor, that was the extent of his input. Each purchaser bought a certain length of the façade, and then employed their own architect to build a house to their own specifications behind it; hence what appears to be two houses is sometimes one. This system of town planning is betrayed at the rear of the crescent: while the front is completely uniform and symmetrical, the rear is a mixture of differing roof heights, juxtapositions and fenestration. This "Queen Anne fronts and Mary-Anne backs" architecture occurs repeatedly in Bath.[110]

Around 1770 the neoclassical architect Robert Adam designed Pulteney Bridge, using as the prototype for the three-arched bridge spanning the Avon an original, but unused, design by Palladio for the Rialto Bridge in Venice.[111] Thus, Pulteney Bridge became not just a means of crossing the river, but also a shopping arcade. Along with the Rialto Bridge, is one of the very few surviving bridges in Europe to serve this dual purpose.[111] It has been substantially altered since it was built. The bridge was named after Frances and William Pulteney, the owners of the Bathwick estate for which the bridge provided a link to the rest of Bath.[111]

The heart of the Georgian city was the Pump Room, which, together with its associated Lower Assembly Rooms, was designed by Thomas Baldwin, a local builder responsible for many other buildings in the city, including the terraces in Argyle Street,[112] and the Guildhall.[113] Baldwin rose rapidly, becoming a leader in Bath's architectural history. In 1776 he was made the chief City Surveyor, and in 1780 became Bath City Architect.[112] Great Pulteney Street, where he eventually lived, is another of his works: this wide boulevard, constructed circa 1789 and over 1,000 feet (305 m) long and 100 feet (30 m) wide, is lined on both sides by Georgian terraces.

In the 1960s and early 1970s some parts of Bath were unsympathetically redeveloped, resulting in the loss of some 18th- and 19th-century buildings. This process was largely halted by a popular campaign which drew strength from the publication of Adam Fergusson's The Sack of Bath.[114] Controversy has continued in recent years with the demolition of the 1930s Churchill House, a neo-Georgian municipal building originally housing the Electricity Board, to make way for the new Bath Bus Station. The was part of the Southgate redevelopment begun in 2007 in which the central 1960s shopping precinct, bus station and multi-story carpark were demolished and a new area of mock-Georgian shopping streets is being constructed.[115][116] As a result of the changes the city's status as a World Heritage Site was reviewed by Unesco in 2009.[117] The decision was made let Bath keep its status, but Unesco has asked to be consulted on future phases of the Riverside development,[118] saying that the density volume of buildings in the second and third phases of the development need to be reconsidered.[119] It also says that Bath must do more to attract world-class architecture to any new developments.[119]

Wide image of a symmetrical semicircular terrace of yellow stone buildings. Grass in the foreground.
A panoramic view of the Royal Crescent

Education

Bath has two universities. The University of Bath was established in 1966.[120] The university is known, academically, for the physical sciences, mathematics, architecture, management and technology.[121]

Bath Spa University was first granted degree-awarding powers in 1992 as a university college, before being granted university status in August 2005.[122] It has schools in the following subject areas: Art and Design, Education, English and Creative Studies, Historical and Cultural Studies, Music and the Performing Arts, Science and the Environment and Social Sciences.[122]

The city contains one further education college, City of Bath College, and several sixth forms as part of both state and independent schools.

Media

Bath has two main local newspapers, the Bath Chronicle and the Bath Times. The Bath Chronicle, published since 1760, was a daily newspaper until mid-September 2007, when it became a weekly.[123] The Bath Times is a free weekly newspaper, largely based around advertising. Both newspapers are owned by Northcliffe Media.

The BBC's Where I Live website for Somerset has featured coverage of news and events within Bath since 2003.[124]

For television, Bath is served by the BBC West studios based in Bristol, and by ITV West (formerly HTV) with studios similarly in Bristol.

Radio stations broadcasting to the city include Bath FM and heart Bath as well as The University of Bath's 1449AM URB, a student-focused radio station available on campus and also online,[125] and Classic Gold 1260 a networked commercial radio station with local programmes.

See also

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External links


Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Pulteney Bridge
Pulteney Bridge

Bath [1] is a historic Roman city. It is a World Heritage Site, situated 100 miles west of London and 15 miles (25 km) south-east of the nearest big city, Bristol. A unique city, Bath is famous for its hot springs, Roman period baths, Medieval heritage and stately Georgian architecture. Set in the rolling Somerset countryside, Bath (population 80,000+) offers a diverse range of attractions for its millions of visitors each year: restaurants, theatres, cinemas, pubs and nightclubs, along with interesting museums, and a wide range of guided tours.

Understand

Bath is the oldest of England’s principal tourist destinations and has been welcoming visitors for centuries. The three hot springs within the city were sacred to the Celtic goddess Sulis, whom the Romans later identified with the goddess Minerva. Bath first achieved its status as a sacred spa site with the growth of the Roman settlement Aquae Sulis around the thermal springs. The Roman period saw a vast complex of baths constructed - the remains of these were re-discovered in the 18th century and helped fuel Bath's modern revival as a luxury resort.

Bath was a prosperous city in the Medieval period, the site of an Abbey and Cathedral (under the Bishop of Bath and Wells). The Reformation under Henry VIII saw some uncertainty emerge in Bath's future, although the reign of Elizabeth I saw the first revival of the town as a spa resort. It was during the Georgian period, however, that Bath came once again into its own. Exceedingly fashionable, Bath was laid out in stately avenues, streets and crescents, encrusted with Neo-Classical public buildings.

The Royal Crescent - Georgian town houses
The Royal Crescent - Georgian town houses

Bath suffered a significant amount of damage during air raids in World War 2. The prestigious crescents and terraces were relatively unscathed and restored where necessary, but some of the more minor Georgian and Victorian streets were demolished both after the war and during a later ill-conceived phase of development known now as the "Sack Of Bath". Consequently some modern buildings pop up in unexpected places, and the locals are generally very opposed to any major building developments that are put forward.

Future development

In 2007, plans got underway for several major building projects which will change the cityscape - so be prepared to see a lot of construction work amongst the beauty! The Western Riverside development has plans for thousands of new houses and flats, some in large (for the town) buildings of up to nine storeys. Local shops and amenities will also be constructed. The Southgate redevelopment process is underway; the unappealing 1960s shopping centre will be replaced by a larger and more traditional looking set of shops. These developments have generated both praise and criticism from Bath residents - almost everyone is in favour of the Southgate regeneration, but some are expressing concern about the new housing plans. In 2007, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), which monitors World Heritage Sites on behalf of the UN body Unesco, reiterated its concerns about building developments in Bath and warned that these could put the City's World Heritage Status in jeopardy.

Get in

By plane

Regional Airports

These smaller airports provide a much more sedate experience than the London ones. Check in queues are shorter, there are fewer people about, and it's much clearer where you have to go and what you have to do. Less stress and fewer delays than the London ones.

Bristol International Airport [2] is situated 20 miles from Bath and boasts scheduled flights from many major European cities, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Copenhagen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Paris and Prague (but not London). By public transport catch the Flyer bus service from the airport to Bristol Temple Meads station, then the train from there to Bath; expect the journey to take about one hour, and longer between 4PM and 6PM when Bristol's roads are congested. Alternatively pay for a taxi (about £40) and get to Bath in about 40 minutes.

Southampton Airport [3] is under 2 hours from Bath by train,and connections are good. It is served mainly by the budget airline Flybe, flying mostly to European destinations.

Cardiff Airport [4] Exeter Airport [5] and Bournemouth Airport [6] are also served by low cost airlines and are within a couple of hours driving distance of the city.

London Airports

The alternative is to use one of the London airports and travel on to Bath by train, car or bus. The most convenient are:

  • Heathrow Airport [7] is about two hours drive straight down the M4 (westbound) motorway. Alternatively the RailAir express bus service (running every 20 minutes) connects with the main London to Bath rail service at Reading rail station; expect the total journey to take slightly over two hours. Or take the train the entire way, hop on the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station and then take a train from there to Bath Spa railway station, the journey takes a little under two hours. Alternatively the National Express coach company run direct buses from Heathrow to Bath bus station.
  • Gatwick Airport [8] is about three hours drive away via the M23 (northbound), M25 (clockwise) and M4 (westbound) motorways. Alternatively a half-hourly rail service from Gatwick connects with the main London to Bath rail service at Reading rail station; expect the total journey to take slightly over two hours.
  • Stansted Airport [9] is about three hours drive away via the M11 (southbound), M25 (anti-clockwise) and M4 (westbound) motorways. By train you will need to catch a Stanstead Express train to London Liverpool Street station, the tube to London Paddington station, then follow the directions below; expect the total journey to take around three and a half hours.
  • London Luton Airport [10] is about a three hour train ride. The Thameslink rail connects the airport to central London where you can catch a train to Bath Spa.
A train pulling through the Bath Spa Station
A train pulling through the Bath Spa Station

Bath Spa is a Victorian station and located in the city centre. It has regular inter-city and regional train services from Bristol, London, Reading, Salisbury, Southampton, Weymouth and Swindon. From London, you should travel from London Paddington station, trains run approx every 30 minutes, journey time about 1 hour 30 minutes. Train times (from any location) can be found on the National Rail Planner [11] or by calling 0845-748-4950 from anywhere in the UK. Taxi rank outside the station, the temporary bus station (pending the building of the new one) is a few hundred yards down the road to the left. There are no luggage lockers in the station.

Oldfield Park is a stop in a residential suburb a mile or so from Bath Spa in the Bristol direction. Don't leap off the train here with all your luggage thinking you're in the middle of town!

By car

Get off the M4 at Junction 18, follow signs for about 5 miles.

It is very easy to get lost in Bath, as a lot of it is one-way and there's a traffic system that prevents you driving from one side of the city to the other. You have to go out on an unofficial ring road and re-enter the city.

Parking in central Bath is often a nightmare and two hour limits apply on many streets. Major central multi-storey car parks are based at Walcot Street, Manvers Street (near the train stations) and Charlotte Street (off Queens Square). Average 2008 rates are around £2 an hour - or the more prohibitive 30p per 10 minutes in the most convenient street locations. Many parking bays are "residents parking only" so check before leaving your car. Traffic wardens are very efficient so don't even think of parking on a yellow line. On Sundays and between 7PM and 8AM other days most parking is free, however check machines for exact details.

The best way to drive into town is to use the park and ride facilities [12] when travelling into Bath for the day. You can park for free and then take a bus for £2.20 per adult return (round-trip, discounts exist) right into the city. The only downside to this is that the last bus leaves at 8:30PM, so you can't use this service if you're staying in Bath late.

By bus

There is a temporary bus and coach station at the bottom of town (pending the building of the new one) which provides a full service.

Get around

Most locations in Bath are easily walkable from the city centre and stations. Bath's roads can be quite congested and driving is not particularly to be recommended for local journeys, but is probably the best way of seeing the surrounding region.

Pedestrians

Some of Bath's shopping streets feel like pedestrian only areas - but aren't. Have a quick look round before you follow everyone else out into the road and, if you're driving, expect pedestrians to walk out in front of you.

Public bus

Typically for British public transport, public buses are at best adequate. A popular 'Park and Ride' bus system operates from a ring of parking lots around the outskirts of the city (Newbridge, Lansdown and Odd Down). It can take you to Milsom Street, the city's main shopping street, or to a number of the cities schools. Note that Bath's buses are often quite expensive, compared with other cities.

Tourist buses

Tour buses complete an enjoyable circuit of main attractions - these can be picked up en route or at the main bay at 'Bog Island' (for the Skyline tour) or next to the fountain near Bath Abbey (for the city centre tour). When you see something you like just hop off at the next stop, have a look round, and hop back on the next one that comes along. Attractions en route include the historic Royal Crescent, The Circus - and some tour bus companies include a route up the winding Ralph Allen Road past the impressive Prior Park Gardens. Tickets cost between £6 and £10 for both the 40 minute Skyline tour and the 45 minute City Centre, hop-on, hop-off service.

Taxis

There are taxi ranks outside the train station and the Abbey. Somehow there never seem to be enough when a train arrives or late at night so plan ahead to avoid long queues. Taxi firms are well advertised locally. The drivers know the city well and will entertain you with (often cranky) stories.

Roman Baths and the Abbey
Roman Baths and the Abbey
  • Roman Baths. Built by the Romans around 2000 years ago, and later rediscovered by the Victorians, the Roman Baths are the must-see tourist attraction in Bath. The baths are fuelled by England's only mineral hot springs, outputting over a million litres of hot water each day. You can wander the rooms that made up the baths, including the large open air 'Great Bath', see Roman, medieval, and Georgian architecture, and learn about the history of Bath Spa. The Baths are superbly maintained and the exhibits are filled with eye-popping archaeology. Make sure you get a taste of the "bath" water served in the restaurant. Stall St, BA1 1LZ. ph 012 2547 7785. Adults £11.50 Open Jan-Feb & Nov-Dec 09.30 - 16.30, Mar-Jun & Sep-Oct 09.00 - 17.00, Jul & Aug 09.00 - 21.00. Closed 25th & 26th Dec. [13]

Come out of the Roman Baths and you will see:

  • Bath Abbey [14], open Easter Sunday - end British Summer time 9AM-6PM, other times 9AM-4.30PM - the last Gothic church in England, started in 1499 and built on the ruins of the former Norman cathedral, this impressively large church (of small cathedral proportions) is located next to the Roman Baths. A place of Australian pilgrimage: Arthur Philip, first Governor of New South Wales and founder of the city of Sydney has his burial and memorial within the Abbey. A wonderful view of Bath can be had with a trip up the Abbey tower (5 pounds).

Come out of the main Abbey door, turn right and follow the pavement round the corner past the statue of "The Lady With The Pitcher". Pass some bookshops and a shop selling Blue Glass and cross the road to the entrance to the Parade Gardens. Then follow the road to the left to see:

  • Pulteney Bridge & Pulteney Weir [15] - Was designed by Robert Adam completed in 1773. It is one of only four bridges in the world with shops across the full span on both sides and overlooks the impressive Pulteney Weir. Tourist trips by boat leave from the Weir during summer months.

Cross Pulteney Bridge to see:

  • Great Pulteney Street - Quintessential Georgian street on the other side of Pulteney Bridge. Film location for 2005's 'Vanity Fair' (the Reese Witherspoon version). Made for casual strolling past the Laura Place fountain, down to the Holborne Museum, around Sydney Gardens, then back up Great Pulteney Street. Below Great Pulteney Street is the Recreation Ground, home of the Bath rugby union club.

Go back in the direction of the Parade Gardens to catch a Hop On Hop Off Tourist bus to take you to:

The Royal Crescent - Georgian town houses
The Royal Crescent - Georgian town houses
  • The Royal Crescent, a magnificent crescent of houses designed by John Wood and completed in 1774. You can visit one of the houses which has been redecorated to resemble what it would have been like at the end of the 18th century. But you don't need to go in to admire the exterior and its view over Bath. There is also a large semicircular shaped lawn out the front owned by the Royal Crescent residents. It is separated from Victoria Park by a ha-ha. 1 Royal Crescent, BA1 2LR ph 01225 428 126. Adults £5. [16]
  • Bath's other Crescents - Georgian architecture at its best can be seen at Bath's handful of crescent shaped, residential streets, offering superb views over the city. The Royal Crescent is the most famous, but Camden Crescent offers the best views, Cavendish Crescent is the most petite. Lansdown Crescent and Widcombe Crescent are also fine examples.
One of the windows in Bath Abbey
One of the windows in Bath Abbey
  • Sion Hill - Wealthy neighbourhood in the upper part of the city that makes for a pleasant stroll. Attractive Bath stone buildings.
  • Sally Lunn's Refreshment House & Museum - Oldest House in Bath - see below under Eat
  • Walcot Street - Bath's 'Camden Town' bohemia with "bargain" antiques and weekend markets.
  • Other attractions include the American Museum in Britain [17] (closed Dec 15 - Mar 16, Adult £6.50), the Thermae Bath Spa [18], Solsbury Hill, the Kennet and Avon Canal, River Avon, St. Catherine's Court, (unsure if you can visit, but you can stay there for £6500/weekend!) [19], and Beckford's Tower [20] (Adult £3),

Parks

Bath's parks are ideal for a summer picnic although local by-laws prevent the drinking of alcohol outdoors. Topless bathing is frowned upon but not forbidden.

  • Parade Gardens [21], In the heart of town overlooking the river, this is where the locals come to laze away the afternoon. Small entrance charge for visitors but free to residents.
  • Victoria Park [22], Bath's largest park in front of the Royal Crescent. Ideal for ball games or feeding the ducks. Entrance is free. The Botanical Gardens in the north-western corner of the park make for a pleasant wander.
  • Sydney Gardens [23], a free park where Jane Austen used to visit.
A collection at the Museum of Costume
A collection at the Museum of Costume
  • No.1 Royal Crescent, [24]. Visitors can now see this grand town house redecorated and furnished to show how it might have appeared in the late 18th century.
  • The small Building of Bath Museum, in the Countess of Huntingdon's Chapel on the Paragon, [25]. One of the most fascinating museums in Bath. It gives an excellent history of the development of the Georgian city, illustrated with cut-away wooden models which give a better insight than any book into the construction and structure of Georgian houses and their furnishings. It also houses a unique collection of 18th century builder's tools.
  • The Museum of Costume, Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street, Bath, BA1 2QH, Tel: +44 (0) 1225 477173 A world-class collection of contemporary and historical dress. Adjacent to the Royal Crescent and Circus, [26].
  • The Holburne Museum of Arts,Great Pulteney Street, [27]. Displays the treasures collected by Sir William Holburne: superb English and continental silver, porcelain, maiolica, glass and Renaissance bronzes. The Picture Gallery contains works by Turner, Guardi, Stubbs and others plus portraits of Bath society by Thomas Gainsborough.
  • The Jane Austen Centre, 40 Gay Street, Queens Square, tel +44 (0)1225 443000, [28]. This museum is very popular and a fascinating testament to Jane Austen's lasting appeal. As a museum it is somewhat disappointing as it is in a house where Jane never lived and contains no items with any connection to her (unless you count items from recent films).
  • Sally Lunn's Refreshment House & Museum, [29]. City center shrine to the original Bath Bun - also Oldest House in Bath - the simple but enjoyable museum in cellars is free if guests take refreshment - see below under eat.
  • Hershel Museum of Astronomy, [30]. (Adult £3.50). A good museum if you are interested in the history of science and astronomy. You can visit the house where William Hershel (and his sister Catherine) discovered the planet Uranus using what was then the world's most powerful telescope (which was constructed in the garden shed).
  • The Museum of East Asian Art, [31]. A fascinating selection of ceramics, jades, bronzes, and other art from China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia.

Do

Tours

There is a free walking tour of the city that lasts about 2 hours and is a great experience. See Mayor of Bath's Corps of Honorary Guides website for details ( www.bathguides.org.uk ) Other walking tours include a ghost walk, a comedy walk and a pair of downloadable tours for your MP3 player [32]. You will find leaflets for these in most hotels, bars, and restaurants. Tourist buses are the best way to see the town and decide what to visit (see above). WH Smiths have a local interests section in their upstairs book department where you can buy walking tours books.

Bath makes a great base for day trips to the surrounding countryside. There are also tours that go to Stonehenge and places like Avebury, the village of Lacock, Castlecombe, and other surrounding villages throughout the Cotswolds. Just go to Tourist Information next to the Abbey for brochures or to book a tour.

Listings

There are various websites publicising events, but probably the best thing is to pick up The Bath Chronicle [33] (now published weekly instead of daily) or a copy of Venue Magazine [34] (analogous to London's 'Time Out') from a newsagent. Venue is weekly (except around Christmas/New Year), costs £1.50, and new editions are usually available on Wednesdays.

Theatre

Theatre Royal - The historic Theatre Royal [35] in the Sawclose, near the city centre, opened in 1805. It offers a rich programme of drama and other entertainment throughout the year, ranging from traditional pantomime at Christmas to Ayckbourn, folk singers, opera and Shakespeare. Programmes in the past few years have included a summer season mounted by the distinguished director Peter Hall. In addition to the main house, the Theatre Royal has two smaller performance spaces - the Ustinov Studio and a (very) new theatre for children, the Egg - and three restaurants, The Vaults, the 1805 Rooms and the Egg Café.

Rugby

Bath Rugby Club - [36] Professional Rugby Union club playing in the top league of English Rugby, the Guinness Premiership. Atmospheric city-centre ground on the banks of the River Avon right by Pultney Bridge. Games roughly every other weekend from October-May. Ticket prices for games run between £15-35 depending on seating/standing location. If you're visiting on a weekend, watching a match is very much recommended.

Cinema

The Odeon - [37] is the biggest and newest cinema for the biggest and newest films. It opened in 2006.

The Little Theatre - [38] shows arthouse and foreign films alongside the newest releases in an intimate environment.

Bath Film festival - [39] runs from late October to mid November.

Concerts

Not many of these I'm afraid. Bath hasn't really got a suitable venue. Bands sometimes play at the Pavilion, or the Rugby Ground but it's a poor show from the city that once held The Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music [40]. Some major classical events are held in Victoria Park but they're far from frequent. Jazz music every Thursday and other live music occasionally at St James' Wine Vaults in the north of town near the Royal Crescent.

The city is pretty good for local and up-and-coming bands, though. The Porter Cellar bar [41] has live music 5 times a week, for example; and its sister club Moles [42] has live music too.

Golf clubs

Bath Golf Club - Excellent, free draining hilltop course. Not overly long but a good challenge for the mid-handicapper. Always in great condition. Located at Sham Castle, near Bath University.

Tracey Park Golf Club - Appealing 27 hole parkland course between Bath and Wick (Bristol). The Crown course is superior to the Cromwell course, which has some newish holes. Nice clubhouse.

Lansdown Golf Club - Narrow fairways are a feature of this hilltop course next to Bath racecourse: can get windy.

Entry Hill - Municipal, nine-hole learners course. Not bad now that the trees have grown up. Superb views over Bath.

Cricket clubs

Visitors to Bath wanting to enjoy a summer afternoon watching cricket have some lovely grounds that welcome spectators for Saturday and Sunday fixtures:

Bath Cricket Club - Nestled in the 'bowl' beside the River Avon, the Bath Cricket Club has an imperious setting. The church on South Parade offers a picture perfect background. Located on North Parade, five minutes walk from the train station. Bath Cricket Club are one of the stronger regional league sides.

Lansdown Cricket Club - Former early 1970s home of Viv Richards, Lansdown Cricket Club is an equally attractive ground at the upper end of Bath. Located at Combe Park, next to the Royal United Hospital (near Weston village). Bus number 14 runs to Weston from Bath town centre).

Football (Soccer)

Football generally plays 2nd fiddle to Rugby Union in Bath, although there are one non-league club in the city:

Bath City Football Club [43] - City play in the fine surroundings of Twerton Park, a traditional 'English Style' football ground and well worth a visit. They have just been promoted to the Conference South, the joint 6th tier of English football. Average gate is around 800 and rising. Typical ticket prices are around £10 per adult and £4 per child.

Walking

Bath is a small city surrounded by lovely countryside. The National Trust's Bath Skyline Walk [44] provides excellent views of the city - or you can simply wander along the canal for 40 minutes to The George Inn at Bathampton for good food in a delightful setting.

Get wet

Bath is the only place in Britain where you can bathe in hot natural waters. You can't leap into the Roman Baths but you can pamper yourself at the Thermae Bath Spa [45] across the road

Read a detective novel set in Bath

Two authors have written a series of detective novels set in the city: Christopher Lee's started with "The Killing of Sally Keemer" and Peter Lovesey's first was "The Last Detective". You can buy them in Waterstone's bookshop at the top of Milsom Street.

Learn

Bath is home to the University of Bath, a very well respected institution that focuses on the sciences, engineering and social sciences. Bath University has world-class sports facilities used by British olympic athletes. It is located at the top of Bathwick hill, about one mile east of the city centre.

Bath has recently acquired its second university called Bath Spa University. The main campus is in a rural setting at Newton Park to the west of the city.

As with most tourism-heavy cities in the United Kingdom, Bath has a selection of Language Schools, and colleges for international students. Some of these institutions include International House [46], Words4Work [47] and Bath Academy [48].

Work

Many Bathonians are employed in the tourist industry. There is also a thriving retail and dining industry, and the university is another source for jobs. Future Publishing, a large magazine and media company, has many offices in Bath. More recently Help Hire has moved into the city - and now sponsors Bath Rugby.

Buy

Alongside the many high street names like Next and Marks & Spencer, Bath has a number of smaller independent shops. Some excellent boutique shopping can be found in the upper part of the city, notable for its art and antique showrooms although these are sadly disappearing. Head up Milsom Street to George Street and beyond. Bath has one of the highest percentages of independent shops in any British high-street. Walcot street near the top of town has almost exclusively independent stores, but often the less established shops have to close within months of opening due to combining factors of high rent prices and just lack of demand of product.

In 2008 the shabby 1970s shopping complex at the bottom end of town was demolished; it will be replaced with an ambitious new one. Few people, if any, will miss the old one but there will be some disruption over the coming years as work commences.

Eat

Overall Bath is a bit poor in this department. There are some good restaurants, and many pubs do great food, but it simply isn't the sort of city where you can wander round in the evening and make a selection. They are scattered around town so you probably won't even find more than four or five before the hunger pangs drive you into the nearest one. Far better to consult the web and decide in advance where you want to go. The list below is far from exhaustive:

Sally Lunn's, exterior view
Sally Lunn's, exterior view
  • Sally Lunn's Refreshment House & Museum [49], 4 North Parade Passage, +44 1225 461634 [50]. Taste the original Sally Lunn Bun, not to be confused with the more famous Bath Bun, a small round bun containing of sugar and currants. Good lunch time fare - and very popular so you may have to queue at peak times.
  • King William Pub & Dining Rooms [51], London Road, +44 1225 428096. Small, award-winning gastropub, the mussels are highly recommended.
  • Hudson Bar & Grill [52], 14 London St, +44 1225 332323. Great steak and seafood in stylish surroundings.

Hotels

  • The Royal Crescent Hotel, 16 Royal Crescent, +44 1225 823333, [53], [54]. Oozes exclusivity and elegance - a good place for a lingering lunch rather than a quick bite.
  • The Priory Hotel, Weston Road, +44 1225 331922, [55], [56]. Top notch food, along with top-tier prices.
  • The Moon & Sixpence, 6a Broad Street, +44 1225 460962, [57], [58]. Open from 11AM daily, lunch 12PM-2:15PM, dinner 5:30PM–10:30PM. Attractive restaurant off Milsom Street.
  • Yak Yeti Yak, 12 Pierrepont Street, +44 1225 442299, [59]. Open 12:00-14:30 daily for lunch, dinner Mon-Sat 17:00-22:30 (closes at 22:00 on Sunday). A unique family-run Nepalese restaurant in an ornately decked out basement. Reasonably priced and delicious. In keeping with the atmosphere the service can be rather laid back (or some have said, inconsistent). They offer an extensive vegetarian/vegan selection. Book in advance for a Friday or Saturday dinner.
  • Firehouse Rotisserie, 2 John Street, +44 1225 482070, [60]. Open M-Sa for lunch 12PM-2:30PM and dinner 6PM-11PM. Creative Californian restaurant, again off Milsom Street. Service can be somewhat aloof and pretentious - nice but expensive nosh.
  • Raphael, Upper Borough Walls, +44 1225 480042, [61]. Open M-Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 12PM-10:30PM. Reinvented as a classy nouveau French restaurant. Situated near Theatre Royal.
  • Browns, Orange Grove (over the road from Bath Abbey), +44 1225 461199, [62]. One of a (usually but not always!) reliable chain of middle-market restaurants with branches in many of the most attractive towns in southern England including Bristol, Cambridge, Oxford, and Windsor.
  • Strada, Sawclose (next to the Theatre Royal), +44 1225 337753, [63]. Once the home of Richard 'Beau' Nash, who was one of the main influences on Bath's evolution in the first half of the eighteenth century from a dirty, bawdy, uncivil and decidedly un-smart provincial town into the hugely fashionable and (relatively) polite spa resort reminiscent of Georgian Bath. Italian food.
  • Jamie's Italian, 10 Milsom Place, +44 1225 510051, [64]. Nice atmosphere. Italian food.
Ben&Jerrys Shop Bath
Ben&Jerrys Shop Bath

Indian Restaurants

Bath is well served in this department. Generally all of them are good and two are exceptional:

  • The Eastern Eye, 8A Quiet Street, +44 1225 422323, [65] City centre restaurant set in a huge Georgian room. Excellent food and service. Highly recommended. Book ahead unless you're going very early evening. Note: Service charge (tip) is included in the bill.
  • Bombay Nights, Lower Bristol Road +44 1225 460400, [66] Excellent food and service. A ten minute walk from the city center and in a less impressive area of town but the food is exquisite. Book ahead.
  • Sukothai, 90a Walcot Street, +44 1225 462463. Authentic Thai food in pleasant surroundings and at a reasonable price.
  • Mai Thai, 6 Pierrepont Street, +44 1225 445 557. Excellent quality Thai Food and good service. Conveniently situated close to the station. It often busy so booking is essential at weekends and recommended at other times.
  • One Fish, Two Fish, North Parade, Bath. Cosy cellar restaurant - class act.
  • Fish n' Chips, Upper Boro Walls, Bath. If you want somewhere cheap to eat during the current economic crisis this is it; great fish n' chips for not much money (less than £2). There's no seating inside, just a counter, so you can stand there or take it with you. It's just west of Union Street, on the right side of Upper Boro Walls.
  • Fudge Kitchen, 10 Abbey Churchyard, +44 1225 462277, [67]. Some of the best fudge you'll eat, and a discount for school children. Watch the the different fudge flavours being made and then try a piece before you buy. You certainly won't regret going in there. The shop also caters for special occasions like weddings and offers a range of gifts.
  • Ben & Jerry's, Abbey Churchyard, [68], Great location outside the Roman Baths, and the Abbey. Serves ice cream, snacks and drinks (and hot food inside).
  • Ben's Cookies, Union Passage, Popular with young locals, not exactly cheap but definitely worth it for a wide selection of melt-in-the-mouth cookies.

Fast food

Head to Kingsmead Square for burgers, kebabs etc. The following are a cut above the post-pub takeaways and are highly recommended:

  • Schwartz Brothers Burgers. Absolutely the best in town. Excellent veggie burgers. Highly recommended. Take away only - eat on the benches in Kingsmead Square. They also have an outlet in Walcot Street.
  • Sea Foods Fish and Chip Shop. Has been serving traditional fish and chips for over 50 years. M-Sa 11:30AM-11PM, Su 12PM-8PM. Eat in or take-away - seats 60.
  • Mr. D's is a small McDonald's-like burger stand, whose burgers and shakes are quite like how they used to taste in the 60s.
  • Bath Buns are buttery buns with large bits of sugar and raisins on top and can be bought at any bakers.
  • Sally Lunn's Buns are bigger, with no sugar and raisins, and can be enjoyed at Sally Lunn's Refreshment House with sweet or savoury fillings
  • Bath Oliver Biscuits are available worldwide from supermarkets and deli's.

Drink

Bath, has a huge array of pubs and bars to choose from, ranging from the very traditional pubs serving real ale to the typical trendy bars:

The Salamander, exterior view
The Salamander, exterior view

The most notable pubs:

  • The Salamander, Quiet Street. A tithe house of Bath Ales.
  • The Raven, Queen Street (a short crawl from The Salamander). Friendly pub with a good selection of real ales. Famous for its hearty pies n' mash and for having a good selection of less traditional board games (ask at the upstairs bar).
  • The Old Green Tree, Green Street. Very small, characterful old pub. Squeeze through the door, elbow your way to the bar and order some real ale or cider.
  • The Bell, Walcot Street. The heartbeat of Bath's bohemian quarter. With a superb array of real ale, regular live music and a great atmosphere. There is a large pub garden at the rear.
  • The Star, Paragon. A tithe house for Abbey Ales. The same now as it was 100 years ago. The small rooms, wooden benches, and old coin games offer a genuine atmosphere. This very much a locals pub, but a very friendly one... just try not to let yourself get hustled at the games!
  • The Rising Sun, Grove Street. Just across the river from the centre, this pub's only stand-out feature is the traditional skittles alley at the back of the pub.

Other notable pubs are:

  • Pig and Fiddle, Broad Street. A large popular pub, with a less traditional approach and clientèle (mainly students) than those listed above.
  • The Crystal Palace, Abbey Green. Notable for having an outdoor area, which is rare in Bath, and good food too.
  • Gascoyne Place, Saw Close. Serves food and has a wide selection of quality European and UK Beers. Has live Jazz on Sunday Evenings.
  • Saracen's Head, Broad Street. Bath's oldest pub can be found in Broad Street. Legend/misconception has it that Charles Dickens stayed here. A large commercial pub, with little atmosphere compared with Baths other pubs.
  • The Boater, Argyll Street. A large beer garden by the river, which is popular with university students as soon as the sun comes out. Nice in the summer evenings.
  • The Ram, Widcombe Highstreet. Offers a handful of local ales and ciders. Just to the south of the centre of Bath on Widcombe highstreet, a short walk from the train station.

Notable bars are:

  • Raincheck Bar. now Beau Bar Decent alternative to the Garricks Head for a pre/post theatre drink. Located around the corner from the Theatre Royal.
  • Lambrettas [69]. Scooter-themed pub along North Parade (near train station and Parade Gardens).
  • RSVP, George Street Opposite Revolution. Overpriced Bar with huge, intimidating steroid junkie bouncers. Popular with large parties before they head off to a local nightclub.
  • Revolution, George Street [70]. Two-floor vodka bar with live DJ sets on weekends; very busy, magnet for fashion victims and dolly birds.
  • Grappa Bar. A bit of class on the road towards Lansdown. Intimate, metro-style bar - quite romantic.

Or head out of town to some great country pubs

There are many great pubs in the countryside around Bath. The following have been selected based on a real sense of history and/or a great place to sit outside in the summer months:

  • Cross Guns at Avoncliffe [71]. Good food and grassy terraces leading down to the river - and overlooked by an aqueduct. Superb in the summer. You can get a train as there is a small station just two minutes walk away, get a taxi or take a very scenic walk along the River Avon (about 6 miles from Bath city centre).
  • The Wheatsheaf at Combe Hay [72]. The Wheatsheaf was originally built in 1576. It became a pub in the eighteenth century and with its wooden beams and roaring log fire, has retained all its original charm. Good food, large gardens, take a taxi.
  • Tuckers Grave, Faulkland. This is where Bathonians head to get authentic glow-in-the-dark cider. It's strong stuff served in what feels like someone's living room. Take a taxi.
  • The George at Norton St Philip [73]. With 700 years of hospitality under its belt, the George is positively oozing with history. With flagstone floors and antique furniture you'll be transported back in time ... and if you go in winter you'll be glad of the open fire to keep you warm.

Nightclubs

There is a definite shortage of cutting edge nightclubs in Bath. Expect bog-standard commercial dance on popular nights. Serious clubbers often travel to Bristol or London, where drunken revelers expecting fun times can choose from a veritable bounty of nightclubs located in the city center. Most club nights cater to mainstream tastes. Although posters and fliers advertising more specialist nights can be found if you look for them in locations such as the walls inside the towns independent fast food outlets.

The Blue Rooms[74]

The Second Bridge[75]

OPA[76]

Po Na Na[77]

Water

You can drink the hot Bath mineral water in the Pump Rooms in the Abbey Churchyard. It costs about 50p and is served from a fountain in the restaurant area. The experience is unforgettable, largely due to the strange taste due to the minerals that the Romans believed had health benefits for the drinker.

Sleep

Accommodation in and around Bath ranges from budget hostels and smart, comfortable self-catering homes, through elegant bed and breakfast and guest houses, hospitable farms and inns, to top-of-the-range hotels.

  • Bath Backpackers, 13 Pierrepont, Bath. Phone: +44 (0)1225 446 787, 10 Bed per room Dorms are about £13 per person per bed
  • St Christopher’s Bath Hostel (Bath Hostel), 9 Green Street, Bath, Somerset BA1 2JY, +44 12 2548 1444 (, fax: +44 20 7247 7114), [78]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. A well known youth hostel located in the centre of the city. Part of the St Christopher's hostel chain. £9.50 with breakfast included.  edit
  • YMCA, International House, Broad St Pl, +44 1225 325900. Locals insist that the Backpacker's beds are infested with lice, and will direct visitors on a budget to the Y on Walcot street.
  • YHA Bath, [79] Bathwick Hill, Bath, Somerset, BA2 6JZ, Telephone no: 0870 770 5688, Decent youth hostel accommodation from £12.95 a night in an Italianate mansion on the outskirts of the city. Frequent bus service serves between the Youth Hostel and city centre.
  • Travelodges There are 2 in Bath - One relatively near the station (Bath Waterside) and one on George Street (Bath Central). Both give excellent rates (between £19-£59) if you book far enough in advance. Walk-in rates tend to be extremely high (~£80) due to being in Bath! Waterside tends to be cheaper than Central. Beware if booking Bath Central - there is a nightclub beneath the hotel. Ask for a room on the top floor if you want a good night's sleep!
  • Express by Holiday Inn, Lower Bristol Road, +44 1225 303000, [80] New hotel about 1 mile from city center. From £59 for a double room with basic breakfast.
  • Carfax Hotel, 13-15 Great Pulteney Street, Bath, BA2 4BS, +44 1225 462089. (email:reservations@carfaxhotel.co.uk, Fax: +44 1225 413257), [81]. A trio of Georgian Town Houses in Bath's famous Great Pulteney St, with car park, lifts, restaurant and affordable prices. A very central hotel in walking distance of the Roman Baths and Abbey, with Henrietta Park at the rear.
  • Hilton Bath City, Walcot Street, +44 1225 463411 (email:reservations.bath@hilton.com, Fax: +44 1225 464393), [82]. The location is everything for this hotel, right in the center of Bath. The rooms themselves are small and not terribly impressive.
  • The Abbey Hotel, North Parade, +44 1225 461603 (email: ahres@compasshotels.co.uk, Fax: +44 1225 447758), [83]. Comfortable and relaxed atmosphere, well-equipped rooms, great breakfasts, reasonable rates.
  • Pratt's Hotel, South Parade, Bath, Somerset, BA2 4AB, 01225 460 441, [84]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 11AM. Hotel in the city. From £45.  edit
  • Royal Hotel Bath, Manvers Street, +44 844 544 9246 [85]. Located in the heart of the city, the hotel was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and was opened over 150 years ago.
  • Bailbrook Lodge, 35-37 London Road West, +44 844 544 4997 [86]. Bailbrook Lodge is a splendid Georgian Mansion designed by the famous architect John Everleigh
  • The Royal Crescent Hotel, 16 Royal Crescent, +44 1225 823333 , [87]. The Royal Crescent luxury Hotel occupies the two central buildings in the Royal Crescent. Both are Grade I listed, and were built by John Wood the Younger himself. If you truly want to immerse yourself in the City of Bath and all its historical glory then this is the place to stay.
  • Macdonald Bath Spa Hotel, Sydney Road, +44 870 400 8222 (email:sales@bathspahotel.com, Fax: 01225 444006), [88]. One of Bath's flagship hotels - 5 star luxury with fine decor and amenities. Bath Spa Hotel is the celebrity's favorite: Joan Collins and Felicity Kendall have been spotted there. A nice grotto is a feature of the large front lawn. Adjacent to the attractive Sydney Gardens - a great starting point for the mile-long canal walk to Bathampton village.

Contact

Phone

Bath's landline area code is 1225. Dial 01225 from within the UK or +441225 from outside the UK.

Internet

Bath Library (in the Podium Shopping Centre) offers Internet access at £3.60 an hour for non members.

There are a couple of small Internet cafés across the road from the train station. Many cafés and pubs offer free wireless internet. Many pubs also offer paid wireless internet, including the Saracen's Head and St. Christopher's Inn.

Stay safe

Overall Bath is a very safe city to visit; the large number of tourists and university students generates a friendly and vigorous feel to the city. Bath city center is lively and bustling until late on Friday and Saturday evenings, although things get rougher around kicking out time late at night. Women would be well advised to avoid wandering around alone at night. The common problem for tourists is the occasional groups of homeless beggars around the parks and abbey - you may see them drinking lager and shouting abuse, which can surprise many first-time visitors. However, they're not pushy when asking for money, and argue amongst themselves rather than getting passers-by involved. Accept it as a byproduct of a city that attracts tourism (and therefore money), and it's no problem.

The river between Pultney Bridge and the weir looks good for a spot of swimming when you're young and fit. It is actually very dangerous, and every year people die doing it. Warleigh weir is good if you're looking for a swim - about 3 miles along the canal.

If you're a keen cyclist, there's a wonderful Bath-to-Bristol cycle path at your disposal. However, please be aware that there have been robberies and attacks on this stretch of cycle path in 2008. Police have made arrests, but it's something you should consider if planning to make the journey.

  • Wells
  • Bristol, with its many attractions situated around the floating harbour and Avon Gorge, is only some 12 miles drive or 15 minutes train journey away, and makes an excellent day trip from Bath.
  • Bradford-upon-Avon is a beautiful, picture-postcard small town near Bath. It's accessible by rail and there's a lovely 30 minute walk along the canal to Avoncliffe where the Cross Guns pub provides good food in an excellent riverside setting - and you can catch the train back to Bath from there. Plan to spend some time there, as the trains are far and few between, check the schedule so you don't get stuck there. The best way is to go early in the morning and come back in the afternoon.
  • Trowbridge is a small town nearby. Trains run from Bath Spa every thirty minutes or so. There is a lot of shopping here if that is what you're looking to do. There is an ASDA and an indoor shopping centre with multiple stores.
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