There is nowhere else quite like Bath Abbey. Magnificent stained glass windows, columns of honey-gold stone and some of the finest fan vaulting in the world, create an extraordinary experience of light and space. But there is more to it than that. There has been a place of Christian worship on this site for over 1,200 years and the Abbey remains very much a living church today with services taking place throughout the entire week. Come and experience the special atmosphere and rich history of this holy and uplifting place.
Since 757 AD, three different churches have occupied the site of today’s Abbey: first, there was an Anglo-Saxon Abbey Church, pulled down by the Norman conquerors of England soon after 1066. Then, a massive Norman cathedral was begun about 1090 but was larger than the monastery could afford to maintain and by the end of the 15th century was in ruins. Finally, the present Abbey church was founded in 1499, the last of the great medieval churches of England.
The first sight most visitors have of Bath Abbey is the West front, with its unique ladders of Angels. The story behind this is that the Bishop of Bath, Oliver King is said to have had a dream of ascending and descending angels which inspired the design of the facade which thousands of people gaze up at and admire today. Whatever the truth of this story, it was Bishop King who was the driving force behind plans to tear down the decaying Norman cathedral and replace it with a new building.
After the dissolution of the monasteries in 1539 by order of King Henry VIII, the Abbey lay in ruins for more than 70 years. The valuable parts of the building had all been taken away, for example the beautiful stained glass windows were ripped out and the roof was stripped for the lead. It wasn’t until 1616, that much of the building we see today was repaired and in use as a parish church.
Tower Tours (every day except Sunday) offer the chance to go behind the scenes and enjoy stunning views of the city. You will also get to visit the Abbey bell and ringing chamber, sit behind the clock face and stand on top of the Abbey’s vaulted ceiling. Tickets available from the Abbey Shop: £6 Adults / £3 Child (5-15 years) Children must be at least 5 years old and accompanied by a responsible adult: 1 adult per 1 child, ages 5-10; 1 adult per 4 children, ages 11-15.
For further information and tour times please see http://bathabbey.org/towertours
The Abbey welcomes all visitors and invites a donation in lieu of an admission fee. £2.50 suggested per adult/£1.00 suggested per child or student. We rely on the generosity of our visitors and our congregation to fund the ministry, mission and maintenance of the church.
All groups of 10 or more people wishing to visit the Abbey should book at least two weeks in advance to avoid disappointment. Please contact Dawn Farmer, Visitors Officer, on Tel +44 (0)1225 303 310, Fax +44 (0)1225 429990 or email firstname.lastname@example.org