Bath is a city in the ceremonial county of Somerset in South West England. It is situated 97 miles (156 km) west of London and 13 miles (21 km) south-east of Bristol. It was granted city status by Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1590, 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 temple was constructed in 60–70 AD and the bathing complex was gradually built up over the next 300 years. During the Roman occupation of Britain, and possibly on the instructions of Emperor Claudius, 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, which housed the calidarium (hot bath), tepidarium (warm bath), and frigidarium (cold bath). The city was given defensive walls, probably in the 3rd century. After the failure of Roman authority in the first decade of the 5th century, the baths fell into disrepair and were eventually lost due to silting up.
King William Rufus granted the city to a royal physician, John of Tours, who became Bishop of Wells and Abbot of Bath, following the sacking of the town during the Rebellion of 1088. It was papal policy for bishops to move to more urban seats, and he translated his own from Wells to Bath. He planned and began a much larger church as his cathedral, to which was attached a priory, with the bishop's palace beside it. 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.
During the English Civil War, the city was garrisoned for King Charles the 1st and seven thousand pounds spent on fortifications. However upon the appearance of parliamantary forces the gates were thrown open and the city surrendered, and it then become a significant post in Somerset for the New Model Army under William Waller. It was retaken by royalists following the Battle of Lansdowne which was fought on 5 July 1643 on the northern outskirts of the city. 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.
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.
Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia spent the four years of his exile, from 1936 to 1940, at Fairfield House in Bath. 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. 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.
In 1987 the city was selected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, recognising its international cultural significance. In March 2012 a hoard of 30,000 silver Roman coins, one of the largest hoards discovered in Britain, was discovered in Bath during an archaeological dig. The coins, believed to date from the third century, were unearthed about 450 feet from the Roman Baths.
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.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". 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. It is still available from a stall in the daily covered market. Also there is a brewery named Bath Ales, located a few miles away in Warmley, Abbey Ales are brewed in the city.
- The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul commonly known as Bath Abbey, is an Anglican parish church and a former Benedictine monastery. Founded in the 7th century, Bath Abbey was reorganised in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries; major restoration work was carried out by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 1860s. It is one of the largest examples of Perpendicular Gothic architecture in the West Country. The church is cruciform in plan, and is able to seat 1200. An active place of worship, with hundreds of congregation members and hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, it is used for religious services, secular civic ceremonies, concerts and lectures. The choir performs in the abbey and elsewhere. There is a heritage museum in the vaults. The abbey is a Grade I listed building, particularly noted for its fan vaulting. It contains war memorials for the local population and monuments to several notable people, in the form of wall and floor plaques and commemorative stained glass. The church has two organs and a peal of ten bells. The west front includes sculptures of angels climbing to heaven on two stone ladders.
- The Royal Crescent is a street of 30 terraced houses laid out in a sweeping crescent. Designed by the architect John Wood the Younger and built between 1767 and 1774, it is among the greatest examples of Georgian architecture to be found in the United Kingdom and is a Grade I listed building. Although some changes have been made to the various interiors over the years, the Georgian stone façade remains much as it was when it was first built. Many notable people have either lived or stayed in the Royal Crescent since it was first built over 250 years ago, and some are commemorated on special plaques attached to the relevant buildings.
- Pulteney Bridge is a bridge that crosses the River Avon, in Bath. It was completed in 1773 and is designated by English Heritage as a grade I listed building. The bridge was designed by Robert Adam, whose working drawings are preserved in the Sir John Soane's Museum, and is one of only four bridges in the world with shops across the full span on both sides. Shops on the bridge include a flower shop, antique map shop, and juice bar.It is named after Frances Pulteney, heiress in 1767 of the Bathwick estate across the river from Bath. Bathwick was a simple village in a rural setting, but Frances's husband William could see its potential. He made plans to create a new town, which would become a suburb to the historic city of Bath. First he needed a better river crossing than the existing ferry, hence the bridge.
- The Victoria Art Gallery is free public art museum. The building was designed in 1897 by John McKean Brydon, and has been designated as a Grade II listed building. The exterior of the building includes a statue of Queen Victoria, by A. C. Lucchesi, and friezes of classical figures by G. A. Lawson. The Gallery was named to celebrate Queen Victoria's sixty years on the throne. It is run by Bath and North East Somerset council and houses their collection of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts. It includes over 1,500 decorative arts treasures including a display of British oil paintings from 17th century to the present day including works by Thomas Gainsborough, Thomas Jones Barker and Walter Sickert.
- The Roman Baths complex The house is a well-preserved Roman site for public bathing. The Roman Baths themselves are below the modern street level. There are four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum holding finds from Roman Bath. The buildings above street level date from the 19th century. The Baths are a major tourist attraction and, together with the Grand Pump Room, receive more than one million visitors a year. It was featured on the 2005 TV program Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of the West Country. Visitors can see the Baths and Museum but cannot enter the water. An audio guide is available in several languages.