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Bath Abbey in Bath England UK

Standing right in the heart of the city, Bath Abbey's splendour shines through for miles around. The site where it stands enshrouds well over twelve hundred years of history. For some time it was neglected and became a ruin, as did many religious buildings in England. Its restoration took place after Bishop Oliver King had a dream of it. It stood for years until Henry VIII's dissolution ran it into ruin once more. Full restoration took place again for it to become a fabulous Bath tourist attraction, which you can visit.

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picture of Bath Abbey from accross the river Avon

History of Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey stands on the site of a 8th century Saxon Abbey. Bath Abbey was to become the most important house of worship when in 973AD Edgar, Prince of the Royal House of Wessex and King of Mercia was crowned King Edgar and became the first monarch to rule over England in the presence of the Archbishops of both York and Canterbury. It wasn't long before the Normans conquest invaded England's shores in 1066 and the Abbey was demolished and replaced by a Norman cathedral after Bishop John of Tours purchased the city for a mere sixty pounds.

Opening times

Easter Monday until the end of British Summer Time - 9.00 am until 6.00 pm.

End of British Summer Time until Easter Monday - 9.00 am until 4.30 pm.

Picture of the organ in Bath Abbey

Neglected it became a disused ruin, twice

By 1499 the Abbey had fallen into ruin after many years of neglect and a new Abbey was built by the Bishop Oliver King following a strange dream he had one night. The dream depicted a vision of angels climbing to heaven and a voice urged "King to restore the church". On the West Front of the abbey the dream that became the inspiration for the abbey has been depicted in magnificent carvings. Later however with the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 at the orders of Henry VIII, the abbey again fell into disuse and disrepair.

Restoration to former glories

Today it has been restored to its former glory and today you can walk within the abbey and explore its various features the St Alphege Chapel celebrates the life of St Alphege who was an Abbot in Bath. He went on to became Archbishop of Canterbury but then life took an evil twist when he was captured by Vikings invaders who demanded a large ransom for his release, but when he refused to order his people to raise the demand, a mob of drunken Vikings beat him to a savage death with bulls bones. Take a look up and you can see a fan-vaulted ceiling which was designed in the 16th century and runs the length of the Abbey.

No state aid means an entry fee

The Abbey itself does not receive any state or any regular finacial assistance in maintaining this historic building. So although there is no charge to visit the Abbey, they very much welcome donations of around 2.50 GBP. This is a very small price to pay for the experience of this architectural jewel. There is also a bookshop offering a wide range of books, cards, jewellery as well as tapes and CD's celebrating the music of the choir and organ.

Picture of the entry to the Heritage Vaults in the walls of Bath Abbey

The Heritage Vaults

Opening times Mon-Sat 10am - 4pm

In the south side of the abbey under the Kingston Pavements are the Heritage Vaults. These include many Saxon and Norman sculptures, artifacts, coins and a reconstruction of the medieval Abbey. We hope you enjoy Bath and this short history of its Abbey. For more information on Bath Abbey click here

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