Bath is famous for its Roman baths, built around hot springs, the only ones naturally occurring in the United Kingdom.
The Anglo-Saxons called the town “Baðum”, meaning “at the baths,” the source of the present name By the 9th century the old Roman street pattern had been lost, and Bath had become a royal possession; King Alfred laid out the town afresh.
All the stonework above the level of the baths is from more recent periods including the 12th century, when John of Tours built a curative bath over the King’s Spring reservoir, and the 16th century, when the city corporation built a new bath (Queen’s Bath) to the south of the spring.
In 1687 a queen who could not have children came to Bath to be treated in the springs. After 10 months she gave birth to a son. After this, Queen Ann came to treat her gout, which set the revival of a town that had forgotten its ancient origin. Soon the high society turned the city into an attraction and a symbol of sophisticated lifestyle.
The spring is now housed in 18th-century buildings designed by architects John Wood, the Elder and John Wood, the Younger, who wanted to create a new Rome.
Most of the architecture now visible in the city dates from the 19TH century, and it is made in warm coloured local stone. The town keeps the spirit of the late 1800s, when aristocrats would come to Bath for curative treatments and grandiose balls.
The beautiful streets of Bath were given a starring role in Hollywood movies such as The Duchess, Les Miserables, Dracula and Jane Austen’s Persuasion.
Did you know that:
- Bath has its own currency, the Bath Oliver, used as a coupon to receive discounts at local businesses. It is also the name of a biscuit eaten with cheese, invented by the physician William Oliver of Bath
- The chemical element “uranus” was discovered by William Herschel in his back garden on New King Street.