A Visitor’s Guide To Bath Abbey

Looming above the busy streets of Bath, the magnificent Bath Abbey attracts hundreds of thousands of people through its doors each year.

If you’re looking for the perfect base from which to explore Bath Abbey, then look no further than Broad Street Townhouse. Located right in the very heart of the historic city, our pub and inn offers 11 sumptuous, kingsize en-suite bedrooms split over three storeys and is recognised by the Sunday Times as the best hotel in Bath!

HISTORY OF BATH ABBEY

The site of Bath Abbey has been a place of Christian worship since 757 AD, with three different churches occupying the site during this time.

An Anglo-Saxon monastery was first constructed, which was where King Edgar, the first king of all England, was crowned in 973 AD. The ceremony formed the basis for the coronation of all future Kings and Queens of England!

Following the Norman conquest, the monastery was replaced with a huge cathedral around 1090, which had turned to ruins by the 15th century.

The building of the present Abbey started in 1499, but due to the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539, was not officially completed until 1616, meaning it took nearly 120 years from start to finish!

THE LADDERS OF ANGELS

One of Bath Abbey’s most striking features is its West Front, which features a huge arched window and intricate stone carvings.

To either side of the window are long stone ladders, filled with carved angels climbing up and down them. It’s believed that the design was thought up by the Bishop of Bath Oliver King, who was inspired by a dream he’d had of angels ascending and descending above him.

BATH ABBEY’S FAN-VAULTED CEILING

Considered one of the finest examples of fan vaulting in the country, the Abbey’s beautiful ceiling dates back to the early 1500s and was constructed by master architects Robert and William Vertue. Eagle-eyed visitors may be able to spot a slight difference in the vaulting above the nave (the central part of the Abbey) – this section of the ceiling was restored in the 1860s.

BATH ABBEY MEMORIALS & BURIALS

Bath Abbey is home to 1,526 memorials – 635 on the walls and 891 on the floor. These poignant tributes commemorate people from all walks of life – from the Chilton family, who were plumbers in Bath in the early 19th century, to US Senator William Bingham.

There are also thought to be up to 8,000 bodies buried beneath the Abbey floor. The earliest burial to be discovered is from 1625, with the last body laid to rest in 1845.

THE WINDOWS OF BATH ABBEY

Bath Abbey houses some magnificent stained glass windows depicting an array of stories, including:

  • The Great East Window, which tells the story of Jesus in 56 scenes.
  • The King Edgar Window, which shows the crowning of Edgar as the first king of all England at the Saxon monastery once located where the current Abbey stands today.
  • The West Window, which depicts stories from the first five books of the Bible, including God’s Creation of Eve and Noah’s Ark.

BATH ABBEY TOWER TOURS

If you’re feeling energetic, you can join a Tower Tour and climb the 212 steps to the top of the church tower for stunning views of Bath and beyond.

Taking around 45 minutes to complete, the tour offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of Bath Abbey, as well as the chance to see the ringing chamber and the Abbey’s 18th century bells, stand on top of the Abbey’s famous fan-vaulted ceiling, and the opportunity to sit behind the Abbey’s clock face!

BROAD STREET TOWNHOUSE

Too tired after sightseeing all day to head back home?

Broad Street Townhouse is an award-winning Grade-II listed boutique hotel, situated in the very heart of historic Bath. A traditional Bath limestone building retaining many of its original architectural features, the Townhouse guarantees you a truly authentic Bath city stay, with 11 sumptuous, kingsize ensuite bedrooms split over three storeys and is recognised by The Sunday Times newspaper as one of the best hotels in the South West.

Next door, our newly refurbished sister venue The Pig & Fiddle is an iconic Bath pub – swing by for a pint of award-winning Butcombe beer or sample the stunning menu, full of exciting seasonal produce and indulgent pub classics.