Visiting Bath Abbey & Thermae Bath Spa

Relax in an open air rooftop pool with views of the Abbey

Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey

About Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey stands at the heart of the City of Bath. For those arriving by coach on a tour they will be dropped off right next to Bath Abbey, (the Roman Baths being adjacent to Bath Abbey).

The Abbey itself has a long and colourful history and has been rebuilt several times. The present Abbey church founded in 1499, ruined after the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 by order of Henry VIII, was completed in 1611.

It should be remembered that this is a working church. Bath Abbey is a place of worship where people meet for services on Sundays and during the week.

This does mean that the Abbey has to be closed to visitors during some services and events, but there will always be a notice on the door to inform you when the Abbey is open again. Do check on arrival.

Just a few minutes' walk from the Abbey is the Thermae Bath Spa; with a rooftop pool with spectacular views of the Abbey and the City of Bath, this attraction has fast become very popular since opening in 2006. In between the two is the attraction everyone goes to see; the Roman Baths in Bath.

Tower Tours Bath Abbey   Bath Abbey history   Thermae Bath Spa  

Tower Tours at Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey view
See Bath Abbey from up high

Tower Tours take place daily (except Sundays) on the hour from 10am to 4pm Mon-Fri and every half hour on a Saturday, and are very popular. There is a fee for these tours. Photography is permitted in the Abbey.

You can climb the 212 steps to the top of the tower and enjoy a panoramic and unrivaled view of the city. Visitors can see the 10 bells and hear how the tower was built. You can also sit inside the Abbey's clock face.

At the Heritage Vaults, accessible from outside the building (in the abbey's south wall, off Abbey Churchyard), you can see an audio-visual presentation of the abbey's history and a reconstruction of the Norman cathedral that preceded it.

The Abbey Shop stocks a large range of bibles, Christian books, guide books, postcards, greetings cards, CDs, icons, jewellery and gifts. All profits from the shop go towards the ministry and maintenance of the Abbey.

Bath Abbey history

Bath Abbey from Roman Baths
See Bath Abbey from the Roman Baths

Founded in the 7th century, reorganised in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries, it is now one of the premier examples of Norman Perpendicular Gothic architecture.

In 675 Osric, King of the Twice, granted the Abbess Berta finance for the establishment of a convent at Bath. Offa of Mercia rebuilt the monastic church, which may have occupied the site of an earlier pagan temple in 781.

Bath was ravaged in a power struggle between the sons of William the Conqueror following his death in 1087. John of Tours, who became Bishop of Wells and Abbot of Bath bought Bath Abbey's grounds from the king, as well as the city of Bath itself.

John became the first Bishop of Bath, and the church was raised to cathedral status. With the elevation of the abbey to cathedral status it was felt that a larger, more impressive building was required on a grand scale.

Unfortunately the resultant half finished cathedral was devastated by fire in 1137, but work continued until about 1156.

When Oliver King, Bishop of Bath and Wells 1495–1503, visited Bath in 1499 he was shocked to find this famous church in ruins.

In 1539 as part of the reformation, the church was stripped of lead, iron and glass and left to decay. It wasn't until 1574, when Queen Elizabeth I promoted the restoration of the church, to serve as the grand parish church of Bath that things took off. She ordered that a national fund should be set up to finance the work triggering phases of development that brought about what you see today.

Thermae Bath Spa

Bath spa rooftop views of Abbey
Views of Abbey from the roof. Photographer: Matt Cardy
Bath spa whirlpool
Minerva Bath. Photographer: Dave Saunders

Baths at Bath history

In the early 18th century, the Georgian era, fashionable English society began coming to Bath to "take the waters" as a health cure.

Much earlier, the Romans used the only hot springs found in the UK to build the bathing complex, now the most visited attraction in Bath - the Roman Baths at Bath.

You cannot go into the water at the Roman Baths and the old municipal hot pools were closed in 1978 after the discovery of an infectious organism.

With the approach of the Millennium, money from the UK National Lottery was made available towards a major project to reopen a safe commercial spa once more.

The resultant Thermae Bath Spa was much delayed well past the year 2000, finally opening in 2006 ending a 28 year period during which the waters remained unavailable for bathing.

Enjoy a modern 'Roman Baths' experience at the Thermae Bath Spa

Rooftop pool with views of the Abbey and Bath City

Today, Thermae Bath Spa is the UK's original and only natural thermal Spa.

Thermae is a combination of 'old and new' where historic spa buildings blend with the contemporary design of the New Royal Bath.

A 2-hour spa session includes full access to the warm waters and flowing curves of the Minerva Bath, multi-sensory Wellness Suite and the open-air rooftop pool with spectacular views across the skyline of Bath.

Spa treatments are available including a specially designed set of packages which aim to promote relaxation and well-being.

Thermae Bath Spa is open daily between 09:00 and 21:30, excluding Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

Thermae Bath Spa - official website




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