Completed: Friday 23rd June 2017
Saying I’m going to visit ‘Bath Spa’ is quite ambiguous. There is a university called Bath Spa, there are the old Roman Baths and the ultramodern Thermae Bath Spa. I’m not going to lie, when I wrote the list it was nothing to do with scouting out a university course, and it wasn’t initially to do with having a history lesson…it was definitely all to do with having a relaxing break at a posh spa complex.
I realised that as we would be in such a historic place we should probably dip in to the city’s culture so also went to the old Roman baths in the morning to get in the right frame of mind – fortunately our spa experience wasn’t in green water though! I love learning about places, and the baths museum has been done up really well with a great audio tour guide to use on your way round. I tried to make notes to remember what I learnt but trying to decipher some of what I’ve written doesn’t make quite so much sense now… Anyway, Bath town’s Roman name was ‘Aquae Sulis’. The actual baths were called ‘Sulis Minerva’, the goddess of the hot spring. This came from a combination of Minerva, a Roman goddess, and Sulis who was a goddess they found in the location.
Historians know they were built by 76AD as an inscription of this date has been found on a stone. The baths were used for over 400 years, and by the 4th century the site was bigger than a football pitch. It became the centre of city life – equivalent to having a large leisure centre and busy temple together today. They even had a Tholos which was a special temple, and the only known example of one in Britain. The original roof over the open air bath was 20m tall, one of the tallest buildings in the Roman Empire. The baths were uncovered in the 19th century, and they built a terrace around the top to show it off, with statues of Roman emperors including Julius Caesar around the edge. It uses the only natural thermal spring in England to provide hot water for the baths.
This is a photo of the 12th century King’s Bath, originally a 2nd century Roman reservoir, where the monk’s of Bath Abbey would come and use the healing waters. The water in the hot spring rises at over 1 million litres of water a day at 46 degrees and bubbles up in to this pool. The orange line around the wall shows where the water level was at one point, but it has since been returned to the original Roman level.
Going to Thermae Bath Spa was a bit of a treat. I went with a school friend for a long weekend break to Bath and the spa package was the only thing we pre-booked. We were both looking forward to a rest, a full night’s sleep (it was my friend’s first night away from her 7 month old…and let’s just say with the traffic outside our window she gets more sleep with a baby at home than we did, but never mind!) and having a few days away. As well as enjoy a relaxing afternoon, we had dinner included in the deal – I’ve never seen a bowl of pasta so big! – and took in the views from the famous open air rooftop pool. The week leading up to it was the hottest we’d had in this country for years but by the Friday our views were framed with grey-hinted clouds though we couldn’t complain, it was still 19 degrees outside.
And finally, being in Bath we couldn’t miss out on a local favourite and managed to make it to the quintessentially English ‘The Bath Bun‘ tea shop for a delicious Bath bun – my first, but certainly not my last!
For more on Thermae Bath Spa and their lovely packages, look here.
To see the full list of 30 things I’m doing, you can see the original post here.