...a place of worship for over twelve centuries, now a fantastic Abbey and architecturally stunning
From Anglo-Saxon times through periods of change and religious unrest discover how this beautiful building came to be and marvel in its magnificence.
The current Bath Abbey, or more correctly the Abbey Church of St Peter and St Paul, stands on ground that has seen worship for over 1000 years. The first Abbey Church of the Anglo-Saxon period around 757 was pulled down after the Norman Conquest soon after 1066. A massive Norman Cathedral was begun in about 1090 but it turned out to be larger than the monastery could maintain and thus it lay in ruins by the end of the 15th century.
1499 saw the beginning of what we see today when Bishop King, the Bishop of Bath and Wells visited and was shocked to find the building in ruins. The work was completed just before the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539 when it was surrendered to the Crown and stripped of its lead, iron and glass. It was not until 1574 when Queen Elizabeth I had it restored to be the grand parish church of Bath.
Further restoration work was carried out in the 1860’s by Sir George Gilbert Scott. The first mention of an organ was in 1634 with a new one being installed in 1895 and following rebuilds in 1914, 1930, 1948 and 1972 it was completely overhauled in 1997 to its current state.
The Abbey has an unusual arrangement of bells. It has a ring of ten bells which are unusually strung from highest to lowest in an anticlockwise direction around the ringing chamber.
The Bath Abbey Heritage Vault Museum can be found in the restored 18th century cellars, and include information and exhibits surrounding the Abbey’s history and its building.
There are 212 steps up to the top of the tower for the more energetic from where panoramic views can be enjoyed.
The Abbey is open for guided tours, prayer or just silent reflection and enjoyment of the architecture and sheer wonder of the building. A place not to be missed on any tour.
Last Updated: 28 Apr 2015