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Tours > England's West Country > Bath

Bath - Somerset

The Royal Crescent in Bath. Wikipedia photo

Along with Italy's Rome and Florence, Bath has been designated a World Heritage City; only twelve miles from Bristol (A4 southeast) it is arguably the finest 18th century city in the world. Walking tours and bus tours take in most of what the city has to offer, and there is much.

Home of Jane Austen, Thomas Gainsborough, and the social climber Beau Nash who made the town fashionable in the 18th century; the city's elegant crescents and Georgian buildings, now resplendent in their pale golden hues of Bath Stone, make it among the top tourist attractions in Britain. In the Royal Crescent, built by John Wood in 1767, Number One is open to visitors. Brock Street connects the Royal Crescent to the Circus, the masterpiece of the elder John Wood.

Bath's famous hot springs were fully utilized by the Roman invaders; their great bathing facilities and the Roman Baths Museum complete the most impressive Roman remains in the whole country. Tickets to the dazzling complex include admission to the fascinating Museum of Costume, housed in the Assembly Rooms.

Nearby is the Building of Bath Museum that explains the architecture and construction of the city; and the former private chapel that now houses the Royal Photographic Society's regular exhibitions. The Pump Room, the social hub of the Georgian health resort, contains a tea room and restaurant where you may drink the foul-tasting spa water and pretend it has done you good.

Bath Abbey dominates the center of town: a beautiful edifice, it dates from the end of the 15th Century. Restored after the Dissolution, its splendid fan vaulting was not completed until the 19th century. Close nearby, the River Avon is spanned by the Italianate 18th C. Pulteney Bridge, lined with tiny shops and dubbed "Florence on Avon."

At the end of May each year, the Bath International Festival brings many thousands of visitors to be entertained by some of the top names in classical music, jazz, folk and blues, accompanied by literary and art evenings, the obligatory street "buskers" and evening fireworks.

At Claverton, on the eastern side of town, the American Museum occupies Claverton Manor (where young Winston Churchill made his maiden political speech in 1897). The first museum of Americana outside the US., its rooms show life in the former New World Colonies over three centuries.

Next Stop: Longleat

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