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Bath, England

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Personality Types that Like it Best

Did You Know … ?

  • Hitler used Baedeker guidebooks to select culturally important targets in England, including Bath.
  • The Thermae Bath Spa is Britain’s only natural thermal spa.
  • Jane Austen set two novels, “Northanger Abbey” and “Persuasion,” in Bath.
  • More than 265,000 gallons of water flow from the city’s thermal springs daily.
  • The Circus, with homes arranged in a circle, has the same diameter as Stonehenge.

Taking the waters

Bath is England’s historic spa town, but visitors come not just to see the Romans’ ancient spas or sample modern services but to look at a small city noted for its stunningly beautiful Georgian architecture rendered in the area’s golden Bath stone.

No one leaves without getting an eyeful of the Crescent, a line of perfectly matched — well, matched when viewed from the front — houses arrayed in the shape of a crescent. Another similarly striking matched set is at the Circus, but arrayed in a circle.  Indeed, the fine Georgian homes extend throughout the town center, reflecting an era, beginning in the 18th century, when the upper crust and wannabees came to take the waters.

Visitors can opt for services at the 21st century Thermae Bath Spa or drink the warm spring waters at the fountain in the Pump Room, the spot where society gathered in Bath’s heyday. Still lovely, the Pump Room is a place to have lunch or tea before or after an unmissable tour through the considerable remains of the Roman Baths.

And then, there is Bath Abbey. It is another luscious piece of work built with Bath stone, but dating from the 15th century.

Visitors may take walking tours; one version has a Jane Austen theme because she lived here awhile (but did not like it much). Other activity choices are cycling, rowing on the River Avon or cruising the Kennet and Avon Canal — or going to the races.

Bath has plenty to keep a visitor in town, but nearby sites are compelling, too. Examples are:

  • Wells, site of the remarkable Wells Cathedral — best seen in late afternoon light — the seat of the Church of England’s diocese of Bath and Wells. It is a short stroll to the Bishop’s Palace and its water-filled moat.
  • Chippenham, a Cotswold market town, which gives access to typical stone-built Cotswold villages, including Biddestone, Castle Combe and Lacock.
  • Bradford-on-Avon, noted for its medieval bridge spanning the Avon, the Saxon church of St. Lawrence and the rows of 17th century weavers’ cottages that reflect a time when Bradford made fine broadcloth.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Take the cure if you dare. The spa water — containing 43 minerals — is not to everyone’s taste. However, believers in its curative powers have been using it for 2,000 years, either by bathing in it or drinking it.
  • Tour the city on a bicycle — when you’re not wearing out your walking shoes taking in the sights from one end of town to the other by foot.
  • See this lovely city from a hot-air balloon.
  • Arrange for a skippered charter trip on the Kennet and Avon Canal, a trip that can take you to the nearby — and charming — Bradford–on-Avon
  • Take a course at Bath Aqua Glass in glass blowing, or have a go at making stained glass and return home with a panel of your own making.
  • Take a nighttime walking tour called Bizarre Bath. The guide promises an irreverent and comic look at the city. Or be entertained by a ghost walk, characterized by tales of haunted places and macabre events.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Go to the horse races, or do a little riding yourself.
  • Spend quality time in the Bath Abbey sanctuary, but also see the below-ground Bath Abbey Heritage Vaults Museum where exhibits include objects that have survived hundreds of years. The abbey has a 1,200-year history, and some display items predate the Norman Conquest.
  • Take a cruise on the Kennet and Avon Canal. Make that a Champagne cruise.
  • By all means, attend a rugby game.
  • For kicks, visit the American Museum in Britain, described as housing the finest collection of Americana outside the U.S. It features period rooms from colonial times to the Civil War and a major quilt collection. Visit on Tuesday and sit in on the weekly quilting bee.
  • Learn to make jewelry or tiaras in short courses offered in Bath. Or, divert yourself with courses in interior design or etiquette.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Bath is one of the most beautiful cities in England, and mellow travelers will love the Crescent, the Circus and countless other collections of Georgian houses found here. Try to see Bath in spring when residents deck homes and public areas with flowers.
  • Take afternoon tea in the Pump Room.
  • Join a walking tour that makes Jane Austen its theme. Tours may focus on locations she used in her novels and locations used for the later movies, or they may focus on her life here — the shopping, entertainment, music — in 1801 to 1806.
  • Book a game of golf.
  • Explore and drop a few pounds (the sterling kind) at one of Bath’s daily or weekly markets. In addition to regular markets featuring farmers’ produce and arts and crafts items, the Walcot Flea Market is open Saturdays in the Artisan Quarter. Also, buy gifts for others, or yourself, at the Bath Christmas Market.
  • Spend some quality time at the Thermae Bath Spa enjoying Britain’s only natural thermal waters.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Visit Bath at http://visitbath.co.uk