Place:Bath, Somerset, England

Alt namesAkemanceastersource: Blue Guide: England (1980) p 187
Aquae Solissource: Canby, Historic Places (1984) I, 82; Webster's Geographical Dictionary (1984)
Aquae Sulissource: GRI Photo Archive, Authority File (1998) p 8368; Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites (1979) p 4; Webster's Geographical Dictionary (1984)
Aquoe Sulissource: Blue Guide: England (1980) p 187
Hat Bathursource: ARLIS/NA: Ancient Site Names (1995)
Æt Bathumsource: Blue Guide: England (1980) p 187
Bath St. Mary within the Wallssource: church ceased to be in use before 1900
Bath St. Mary de Stallssource: church ceased to be in use before 1900
Bath St. Mary without the Wallssource: church ceased to be in use before 1900
Bath St. Werburghsource: church ceased to be in use before 1900
TypeAncient city, Borough (county)
Coordinates51.376°N 2.36°W
Located inSomerset, England
Also located inAvon, England     (1974 - 1996)
See alsoBath Forum Hundred, Somerset, Englandhundred in which it was located as several parishes
Wansdyke District, Avon, Englanddistrict in which Bath located 1974-1996
Bath and North East Somerset District, Somerset, Englandunitary authority which took over from Avon on its abolition in 1996
Contained Places
Bath Abbey Cemetery
the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Bath is a city in the ceremonial county of Somerset, known for its Roman-built baths. In 2011, its population was 88,859. Bath is in the valley of the River Avon, 97 miles (156 km) west of London and 11 miles (18 km) southeast of Bristol.

The city became a spa with the Latin name Aquae Sulis ("the waters of Sulis") circa AD 60 when the Romans built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon although oral tradition suggests that the hot springs were known before then. It became popular as a spa town during the Georgian era, leaving a heritage of Georgian architecture crafted from Bath Stone.

Bath became a World Heritage Site in 1987. The city's theatres, museums and other cultural and sporting venues have helped to make it a major centre for tourism with more than one million staying visitors and 3.8 million day visitors to the city each year.[1] The city has two universities and there is a large service sector, with employment in information and communication technology and creative industries.

Image:Bath Rural small PJ.png



Historically part of the county of Somerset, Bath was made a county borough in 1889 independent of the newly created administrative Somerset County Council. Bath became part of Avon when the non-metropolitan county was created in 1974. Since the abolition of Avon in 1996, Bath has been the centre of the unitary authority of Bath and North East Somerset (B&NES or BANES). Bath remains in the ceremonial county of Somerset, although not within the administrative non-metropolitan county.

Wikipedia goes on to discuss the ward system of modern "unparished" Bath. Many former parishes have become suburbs and neighbourhoods or areas of the city, but, for the purposes of genealogy, they are best traced individually rather than as a group here.


the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Stone, Bronze, and Iron Ages

The hills in the locality such as Bathampton Down saw human activity from the Mesolithic period. Several Bronze Age round barrows were opened by John Skinner in the 18th century. A long barrow site believed to be from the Early Bronze Age Beaker people was flattened to make way for RAF Charmy Down. Solsbury Hill overlooking the current city was an Iron Age hill fort and the adjacent Bathampton Camp may also have been one.

Roman baths and town

Archaeological evidence shows that the site of the Roman baths' main spring may have been treated as a shrine by the Britons, and was dedicated to the goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva; the name Sulis continued to be used after the Roman invasion, appearing in the town's Roman name, (literally, "the waters of Sulis"). Messages to her scratched onto metal, known as curse tablets, have been recovered from the sacred spring by archaeologists. The tablets were written in Latin, and cursed people whom the writers felt had wronged them. For example, if a citizen had his clothes stolen at the baths, he might write a curse, naming the suspects, on a tablet to be read by the goddess.

A temple was constructed in AD 60–70, and a bathing complex was built up over the next 300 years. Engineers drove oak piles into the mud to provide a stable foundation, and surrounded the spring with an irregular stone chamber lined with lead. In the 2nd century, the spring was enclosed within a wooden barrel-vaulted structure that housed the caldarium (hot bath), tepidarium (warm bath), and frigidarium (cold bath).

The town was later given defensive walls, probably in the 3rd century. After the failure of Roman authority in the first decade of the 5th century, the baths fell into disrepair and were eventually lost as a result of rising water levels and silting.

In March 2012 a hoard of 30,000 silver Roman coins, one of the largest discovered in Britain, was unearthed in an archaeological dig. The coins, believed to date from the 3rd century, were found about 150 m (450 ft) from the Roman baths.

Post-Roman and medieval

Bath may have been the site of the Battle of Badon ( 500 AD), in which Arthur, the hero of later legends, is said to have defeated the Anglo-Saxons. The town was captured by the West Saxons in 577 after the Battle of Deorham; the Anglo-Saxon poem The Ruin may describe the appearance of the Roman site about this time. A monastery was founded at an early date – reputedly by Saint David although more probably in 675 by Osric, King of the Hwicce, perhaps using the walled area as its precinct. Nennius, a 9th-century historian, mentions a "Hot Lake" in the land of the Hwicce along the River Severn, and adds "It is surrounded by a wall, made of brick and stone, and men may go there to bathe at any time, and every man can have the kind of bath he likes. If he wants, it will be a cold bath; and if he wants a hot bath, it will be hot". Bede described hot baths in the geographical introduction to the Ecclesiastical History in terms very similar to those of Nennius. King Offa of Mercia gained control of the monastery in 781 and rebuilt the church, which was dedicated to St. Peter.

According to the Victorian churchman Edward Churton, during the Anglo-Saxon era Bath was known as Acemannesceastre ('Akemanchester'), or 'aching men's city', on account of the reputation these springs had for healing the sick.

By the 9th century the old Roman street pattern was lost and Bath was a royal possession. King Alfred laid out the town afresh, leaving its south-eastern quadrant as the abbey precinct.[2] In the Burghal Hidage, Bath is recorded as a burh (borough) and is described as having walls of and was allocated 1000 men for defence. During the reign of Edward the Elder coins were minted in Bath based on a design from the Winchester mint but with 'BAD' on the obverse relating to the Anglo-Saxon name for the town, Baðum, Baðan or Baðon, meaning "at the baths", and this was the source of the present name. Edgar of England was crowned king of England in Bath Abbey in 973, in a ceremony that formed the basis of all future English coronations.

William Rufus granted the town, abbey and mint to a royal physician, John of Tours, who became Bishop of Wells and Abbot of Bath, following the sacking of the town during the Rebellion of 1088. It was papal policy for bishops to move to more urban seats, and John of Tours translated his own from Wells to Bath. The bishop planned and began a much larger church as his cathedral, to which was attached a priory, with the bishop's palace beside it. New baths were built around the three springs. Later bishops returned the episcopal seat to Wells while retaining the name Bath in the title, Bishop of Bath and Wells. St John's Hospital was founded around 1180 by Bishop Reginald Fitz Jocelin and is among the oldest almshouses in England. The 'hospital of the baths' was built beside the hot springs of the Cross Bath, for their health-giving properties and to provide shelter for the poor infirm.

Administrative systems fell within the hundreds. The Bath Hundred had various names including the Hundred of Le Buri. The Bath Foreign Hundred or Forinsecum covered the area outside the city and was later combined into the Bath Forum Hundred. Wealthy merchants had no status within the hundred courts and formed guilds to gain influence. They built the first guildhall probably in the 13th century. Around 1200 the first mayor was appointed.

Early modern

By the 15th century, Bath's abbey church was dilapidated and Oliver King, Bishop of Bath and Wells, decided to rebuild it on a smaller scale in 1500. The new church was completed just a few years before Bath Priory was dissolved in 1539 by Henry VIII. The abbey church became derelict before being restored as the city's parish church in the Elizabethan era, when the city experienced a revival as a spa. The baths were improved and the city began to attract the aristocracy. A Royal charter granted by Queen Elizabeth I in 1590 confirmed city status. Anne of Denmark came to bathe in 1613 and 1615.

During the English Civil War, the city was garrisoned for Charles I. Seven thousand pounds was spent on fortifications, but on the appearance of parliamentary forces the gates were thrown open and the city surrendered. It became a significant post for the New Model Army under William Waller. Bath was retaken by the royalists in July 1643 following the Battle of Lansdowne and occupied for 2 years until 1645. Luckily, the city was spared the destruction of property and starvation of its inhabitants unlike nearby Bristol and Gloucester. During the occupation, the finances of the Bath City Council took a drubbing with council spending, rents and grants all falling. The billeting of soldiers in private houses also contributed to disorder and vandalism.[3]

Normalcy to the city quickly recovered after the war when the city council achieved a healthy budget surplus.[3] Thomas Guidott, a student of chemistry and medicine at Wadham College, Oxford, set up a practice in the city in 1668. He was interested in the curative properties of the waters, and he wrote A discourse of Bathe, and the hot waters there. Also, Some Enquiries into the Nature of the water in 1676. It brought the health-giving properties of the hot mineral waters to the attention of the country, and the aristocracy arrived to partake in them.

Several areas of the city were developed in the Stuart period, and more building took place during Georgian times in response to the increasing number of visitors who required accommodation. Architects John Wood the Elder and his son laid out the new quarters in streets and squares, the identical façades of which gave an impression of palatial scale and classical decorum. Much of the creamy gold Bath stone, a type of limestone used for construction in the city, was obtained from the Combe Down and Bathampton Down Mines owned by Ralph Allen (1694–1764). Allen, to advertise the quality of his quarried limestone, commissioned the elder John Wood to build a country house on his Prior Park estate between the city and the mines.[4] Allen was responsible for improving and expanding the postal service in western England, for which he held the contract for more than forty years.[4] Although not fond of politics, Allen was a civic-minded man and a member of Bath Corporation for many years. He was elected mayor for a single term in 1742.[4]

In the early 18th century, Bath acquired its first purpose-built theatre, the Old Orchard Street Theatre. It was rebuilt as the Theatre Royal, along with the Grand Pump Room attached to the Roman Baths and assembly rooms. Master of ceremonies Beau Nash, who presided over the city's social life from 1705 until his death in 1761, drew up a code of behaviour for public entertainments. Bath had become perhaps the most fashionable of the rapidly developing British spa towns, attracting many notable visitors such as the wealthy London bookseller Andrew Millar and his wife, who both made long visits. In 1816, it was described as "a seat of amusement and dissipation", where "scenes of extravagance in this receptacle of the wealthy and the idle, the weak and designing" were habitual.

Late modern

The population of the city was 40,020 at the 1801 census, making it one of the largest cities in Britain. William Thomas Beckford bought a house in Lansdown Crescent in 1822, and subsequently two adjacent houses to form his residence. Having acquired all the land between his home and the top of Lansdown Hill, he created a garden more than in length and built Beckford's Tower at the top.

Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia spent the four years in exile, from 1936 to 1940, at Fairfield House in Bath. During World War II, between the evening of 25 April and the early morning of 27 April 1942, Bath suffered three air raids in reprisal for RAF raids on the German cities of Lübeck and Rostock, part of the Luftwaffe campaign popularly known as the Baedeker Blitz. During the Bath Blitz, more than 400 people were killed, and more than 19,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.

Houses in Royal Crescent, Circus and Paragon were burnt out along with the Assembly Rooms.[5][6] A high explosive bomb landed on the east side of Queen Square, resulting in houses on the south side being damaged and the Francis Hotel losing of its frontage. The buildings have all been restored although there are still signs of the bombing.[5]

A postwar review of inadequate housing led to the clearance and redevelopment of areas of the city in a postwar style, often at variance with the local Georgian style. In the 1950s the nearby villages of Combe Down, Twerton and Weston were incorporated into the city to enable the development of housing, much of it council housing. In 1965, town planner Colin Buchanan published Bath: A Planning and Transport Study, which to a large degree sought to better accommodate the motor car, including the idea of a traffic tunnel underneath the centre of Bath. Though criticised by conservationists, some parts of the plan were implemented.

In the 1970s and 1980s it was recognised that conservation of historic buildings was inadequate, leading to more care and reuse of buildings and open spaces. In 1987, the city was selected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, recognising its international cultural significance.

Between 1991 and 2000, Bath was the scene of a series of rapes committed by an unidentified man dubbed the "Batman rapist". The attacker remains at large and is the subject of Britain's longest-running serial rape investigation.[7] He is said to have a tights fetish, have a scar below his bottom lip and resides in the Bath area or knows it very well.[7] He has also been linked to the unsolved murder of Melanie Hall, which occurred in the city in 1996. Although the offender's DNA is known and several thousand men in Bath were DNA tested, the attacker continues to evade police.[7]

Since 2000, major developments have included the Thermae Bath Spa, the SouthGate shopping centre, the residential Western Riverside project on the Stothert & Pitt factory site, and the riverside Bath Quays office and business development. In 2021, Bath become part of a second UNESCO World Heritage Site, a group of spa towns across Europe known as the "Great Spas of Europe".[8]

Redundant churches

A number of the churches located in Bath and originally listed in WeRelate fell into disuse long before 1900. Various sources have been investigated, but no information has been found. The churches have been redirected here. They include Bath St. Mary de Stalls, Bath St. Mary within the Walls, Bath St. Mary without the Walls,Bath St. Werburgh

(The present Roman Catholic church in Bath is dedicated to St. Mary.)

Research Tips

  • The Somerset Heritage Centre (incorporating what was formerly the Somerset Record Office and the Somerset Local Studies Library) can be found at its new location at Langford Mead in Taunton. It has an online search facility leading to pages of interest, including maps from the First and Second Ordnance Survey (select "Maps and Postcards" from the list at the left, then enter the parish in the search box).
    The Heritage Centre has an email address:
  • Three maps on the A Vision of Britain through Time website illustrate the changes in political boundaries over the period 1830-1945. All have expanding scales and on the second and third this facility is sufficient that individual parishes can be inspected.
  • Somerset Hundreds as drawn in 1832. This map was prepared before The Great Reform Act of that year. Note the polling places and representation of the various parts of the county.
  • Somerset in 1900, an Ordnance Survey map showing rural districts, the boundaries of the larger towns, the smaller civil parishes of the time, and some hamlets and villages in each parish
  • Somerset in 1943, an Ordnance Survey map showing the rural districts after the changes to their structure in the 1930s
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Bath, Somerset. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.