Saturday, February 21, 2015

Visit to Bath

After my Margam Park post a few weeks ago I promised a post on my trip to Bath and I'd planned to get it up within the next few days, but that clearly didn't happen. Other than keeping busy with work I've started tentatively (but excitedly) work on the article I'd like to publish based on some of my dissertation findings, so I've been spending a lot of my free time reading research and drinking lots of coffee, two things which I love to do! But having done that all morning I figured it was about time I get this Bath post finished!

It was just over a year ago that I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting up with Emily while she was in London. I promise you, if any friend of mine is ever in the UK I will make a very determined effort to make it to see them, however brief the visit--because why not take advantage of being on the same landmass?! So I was very excited when my friend and former roommate Kate texted me in November to let me know she'd be in London for New Year's! After doing some research she suggested that we meet in Bath, because it looked like a good halfway point between London and Wales, and because it looked like a great place to explore! It was a fantastic choice.

Roman Baths!
Bath has a fantastic architectural history, including the ruins of Roman baths and more modern baths and spas built to draw in to the hot springs that run below the city. It has loads of really cool buildings and we spent the afternoon on a free walking tour that basically takes you to all the main architectural highlights!

 This is Bath Abbey Cathedral--see the funny neck on the statue of St. Peter to the right? King Henry VIII had the statue beheaded, so when the head was restored they didn't bother to build up his neck properly again! This was my favorite fact from the tour.

One of the things that the tour guide really emphasize was that Bath's cultural and architectural history has really placed a lot of emphasis on outward appearance and on the superficial. Bath was historically a place to go out and socialize solely for the purpose of "seeing and being seen". In a similar vein, two of the city's biggest architectural highlights, the Royal Crescent (above) and the Circus, have a really interesting design history. The facades were planned and designed by one architect, but each house (there's 30 in the Crescent) within the facade was then bought by a private owner who hired their own architect to design the rear. This means the rears are a hodgepodge of designs and styles! I found this aerial photo of the back to demonstrate: 

Yes, that is the same building, from the rear! We took this photo on the grass that would be just off the right edge of the photo above. I love the symbolism of this stylistic/architectural choice of the town's cultural focus on outward appearances! Similarly, there's now a legislation stating that all new buildings constructed within a certain radius of Bath town centre must use Bath yellow stone (from local quarries) as the facade, to give an appearance of uniformity. And to be honest, it makes for a really pretty-looking city when everything matches like that! Unfortunately my camera was out of commission the day of this trip so I didn't get to take many pictures myself. But Josh and I definitely hope to go back to Bath in the future, now that we've discovered how close it is to us (an easy day trip) and how much there is to do/see in the surrounding area!

It was really great to see Kate, explore a new place together, and have a chance to catch up! I'm so glad our visit worked out.


  1. Oooh I love Bath. Dean took me on a day trip this Wednesday and I LOVED it. I may have made him go to the Jane Austen Centre with me... Haha.
    I also love that they use the same Bath stone. Makes for a very pretty city.

    1. Josh asked if I wanted to go to the centre because he was confusing Austen with Bronte (the latter I adore, the former I don't). Amber said the town near where they'll be living uses all Bath stone too! I forsee lots of visits :)

  2. Not sure if I posted right..sorry if this ends up being a duplicate! But the Jane Austen Centre is delightful, especially considering Jane actually despised living in Bath. There's a cafe upstairs where you can have tea and crumpets under a large portrait of Mr. Darcy!

    1. I'm not an Austen fan so the centre is not on my list, but I was amused to hear on the tour that she hated Bath! I'm not surprised to be honest, as much as I loved to visit I'm sure I'd have hated living somewhere so focused on society and appearances too!