Visit Bath– A Few Facts About Bath Abbey
6 August 2019

In this week’s blog we’re focusing on Bath Abbey, and a few of the unusual facts that make it such an interesting place.

 

  1. The Abbey wasn’t the first church on that site.

After the Roman Temple which was built nearby in around 70AD, the first church on the exact site which the Abbey now stands on was an Anglo-Saxon monastery which was built in 757AD. Next came a huge Norman cathedral which was begun in approximately 1090, until it was left in ruins by the late 15thcentury. Finally came the Abbey which is there now.

 

  1. It was the site of the coronation of the first King of England.

The first King of England, King Edgar, was crowned in Anglo-Saxon monastery which was then on the site of the Abbey in 973 AD.

 

  1. The 1830s saw the addition of the buttresses.

After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 saw the Abbey lying in ruins for over 70 years, the Abbey remained in disrepair until 1616 when a lot of the building was mended. It wasn’t until the 1830s that George Manners who was a local architect created the Abbey in the form in which we now see it. He added the pinnacles, galleries above the choir, a new organ, and flying buttresses both on the inside and outside of the building.

 

  1. There are holes in the ceiling.

If you look closely at the magnificent fan-arched ceiling, you can just about spot a few small holes which are a few centimetres across. No one can be certain of exactly why they are there, but one of the holes is in such a convenient place as to let the bell ringers spot when a newly married couple are exiting down the aisle. This gave them just enough time to get back to ring the bells ready for the opening of the Abbey doors.

 

  1. The replacement Tenor bell saw an out-of-tune bell installed!

In 1869, the Tenor bell, the heaviest bell in the tower weighing in at around 1.7 tonnes, cracked unexpectedly during ringing practice one night. The bell was recast, hoisted back up into place in the tower, and then discovered to be out of tune! This saw the bell being brought back down and sent off to be recast a second time!

 

If you’re looking to learn more about Bath Abbey, we can well recommend a visit (a must when you’re visiting Bath surely!), but we can also recommend a Tower Tour. These tours take you up to the bell tower and onto the roof of the Abbey. You learn lots about the Abbey, and get a magnificent view of Bath. For more information – visit the Tower Tours page on the Bath Abbey website.