What to See in England
By Gordon Home
Public Domain Books
=How to get there.=–Train from Paddington. Great Western Rly. =Nearest Station.=–Bath. =Distance from London.=–107 miles. =Average Time.=–2-1/2 hours.
1st 2nd 3rd =Fares.=–Single 17s. 10d. 11s. 2d. 8s. 11d. Return 31s. 3d. 19s. 6d. 17s. 10d.
=Accommodation Obtainable.=–"Empire Hotel,” “Pulteney Hotel," “York House Family Hotel,” “Royal Station Hotel,” “Railway Hotel,” “Waldron’s Private Hotel,” etc. =Alternative Route.=–Train from Waterloo. South-Western Railway.
Bath, one of the largest towns in Somersetshire, is beautifully situated on the Avon in a wooded valley in the north-east of the county. The city is of great antiquity, and was one of the most powerful Roman stations, being at the intersection of two very important roads,–the Fosse Way, which extended from the coast of Devonshire to the north-east coast of Lincolnshire, and the Via Julia, the great road between London and Wales. The story of the British king Bladud and his connection with Bath is immortalised in the Pickwick Papers, but is more or less legendary; however, as to the greatness of the city during the Roman occupation there is ample evidence. Even in those times the great natural feature of the place was its mineral waters, and in the first century the Romans built some luxurious baths there, and now the extensive remains have made the place notable. The Saxons quaintly named the city Akeman Ceaster, or town of invalids.
In the original Abbey Church took place the coronation of King Edgar as King of England by the famous St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury. This church stands on the site of the old conventual church, on the spot where once stood the Roman temple of Minerva. It was rebuilt in the fifteenth century by Bishop Oliver King, and completed by Bishop Montague at the beginning of the seventeenth century. On the west front are sculptures representing the angels upon Jacob’s Ladder, and the whole building teems with interest; but the original purity of its architecture has been much marred by faulty and ignorant restoration.
Till the middle of the eighteenth century Bath covered no larger area than that contained within the Roman walls, but Queen Anne and Prince George of Denmark having conceived a great partiality for the place, and the medicinal quality of the waters being much advocated, the city rapidly grew in favour and size, until it reached its heyday in the time of Beau Nash and the Prince Regent.
[Illustration: Photochrom Co., Ltd. THE RESTORED ROMAN BATH AT BATH.
The bases of the columns are chiefly untouched Roman work.]