BATH, a city, having separate jurisdiction, and the head of a union, locally in the hundred of Bath-Forum, E. division of Somerset, 12 miles (E. by S.) from Bristol, 19 (N. N. E.) from Wells, and 107 (W.) from London, on the direct road to Bristol; containing, with the whole of the parish of Walcot, 38,314 inhabitants, and with those of Bathwick, and Widcombe and Lyncombe, 53,206. The name of this city is obviously derived from its medicinal springs, the efficacy of which has been celebrated from remote antiquity. It is stated to have been a British town prior to the Roman invasion, and to have been named Caer Badon, or "the place of baths," from an accidental discovery of the medicinal properties of its waters by Bladud, son of Lud Hudibras, King of Britain; who, according to the fabulous histories of those times, having been banished from court on account of leprosy, came to this place, and being cured of the disease by using the waters, built a palace here after his accession to the throne, and encouraged the resort of persons affected with cutaneous disorders. So favourably was this account received even till the eighteenth century, that a statue of Bladud was erected in the King's bath, with an inscription to that effect, in 1699. The researches of modern historians, however, have induced them to reject the tradition as entirely destitute of support, and to ascribe the foundation of the city to the Romans, who, in the reign of Claudius, having ascertained the healing quality of its waters, constructed, on a skilful and extensive plan, their balnea, consisting of frigidaria, tepidaria, olothesia, sudatoria, &c., for the better enjoyment of the luxury of the bath, and gave to the station the name Aqu Solis. They erected a temple to Minerva, with many votive altars, and numerous other buildings, the remains of which, discovered at various periods, strikingly indicate their splendour and magnificence. They also surrounded the city with walls twenty feet in height, and of prodigious thickness, including an area in the form of an irregular pentagon, of which the larger diameter was 1200 feet, and the smaller 1140. In the centre were the prtorium, the baths, and the temple; and in the walls were four gates terminating the principal streets, from which they constructed roads leading to the neighbouring stations, Verlucio, Ischalis, Abona, &c. After the departure of the Romans from Britain, Bath, then called Caer Palladwr, "the city of the waters of Pallas," remained in the possession of the Britons for more than a century, being disturbed only by one or two unsuccessful attacks of the Saxon chieftains, Ælla and Cerdic, who were bravely repulsed by the renowned King Arthur.
In the year 577 the Saxons, having nearly overrun the kingdom, fell with irresistible fury on the western part of England; and having gained the memorable battle of Deorham, about eight miles distant, Bath fell a prey to their ravages, and was abandoned to indiscriminate plunder. Its temple was destroyed, its altars were overthrown, and its baths and other splendid monuments of Roman grandeur reduced to a heap of ruins. How long it continued in this desolate state is uncertain, but probably the Saxons, after having retained uninterrupted possession of it for a time, took means to effect its restoration: they rebuilt the walls and other fortifications upon the original foundations, with the old materials, cementing them with a liquid substance, which time has rendered harder than stone; and it is likely that they also directed their attention to the baths, which they soon restored; for the Saxon names of the city were Hat Bathur, "hot baths," and Ace mannes ceaster, "city of invalids." After their conversion to Christianity, a nunnery was erected here, in 676, which was destroyed during the wars of the heptarchy; and on its site a college of Secular canons was founded, in 775, by Offa, King of Mercia, who had taken Bath from the King of Wessex, and annexed it to his own dominions. He also rebuilt the conventual church of St. Peter, in which Edgar was crowned king of England, by Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, in 973; and the anniversary of this coronation continued to be celebrated in the time of Camden, in commemoration of the numerous privileges which had been granted to the citizens on that occasion. Edgar converted the college into a Benedictine monastery, which, with the church, was demolished by the Danes.
At the time of the Norman survey, Bath contained 178 burgesses, of whom 64 held under the king, 90 under different feudatories of the crown, and 24 under the abbot of St. Peter's. In the first year of the reign of William Rufus, Geoffrey, Bishop of Coutances, and Robert de Mowbray, who had risen in support of the claim of Robert, Duke of Normandy, to the throne of England, obtained possession of the city by assault, and reduced the greater part of it to ashes. From this calamity, however, it soon recovered, under the favour of John de Villula, who, on his promotion to the see of Wells, about the year 1090, purchased the city from Henry I. for 500 marks, and built a new and spacious church here for that see, removing the episcopal chair to this place, where, during the festival of Easter in 1107, he had the honour of entertaining Henry I. In the turbulent reign of Stephen, Bath suffered greatly from its proximity to Bristol, then the head-quarters of the Empress Matilda, and was alternately occupied by the adherents of both parties. It continued in the possession of its bishops until 1193, when Bishop Savaric transferred it to Richard I. in exchange for the abbey of Glastonbury; this monarch made it a free borough, and invested it with many privileges, in consequence of which it began to participate in the commerce of the country, and to increase in wealth and importance. The manufacture of woollen cloth, which was commenced in England in the year 1330, was established here under the auspices of the monks, on which account the shuttle was introduced into the arms of the monastery.
During the civil war in the reign of Charles I., Bath was fortified for the king; but the Marquess of Hertford, who commanded the royal forces, having retired into Wales, it fell into the hands of the parliamentarians, and became the head-quarters of the army raised by Waller in this part of the country to retrieve the loss which his party had sustained in the battle of Stratton. In 1643, the battle of Lansdown, in the immediate neighbourhood, took place, when the royalists, notwithstanding many local disadvantages, drove the parliamentary forces from the field, and compelled them to retire into the city; in commemoration of which, a monument was erected on the spot in 1720. After this battle the royalists regained possession of the city, which they held till it was finally surrendered to the_parliament in 1645. On the restoration of Charles II., the citizens presented a congratulatory address through the celebrated William Prynne, then one of their representatives; and in the autumn of 1663, the king paid a visit to Bath, on which occasion his chief physician having recommended the internal use of the waters, the adoption of this practice became general. After the suppression of Monmouth's rebellion, four persons, who had been condemned by Judge Jeffreys, were executed here.
The City continued within the limits prescribed to it by the Romans till the year 1720, and its suburbs consisted merely of a few scattered houses: celebrated only for the medicinal properties of its hot springs, it was for several years visited merely by invalids. The perseverance of Mr. John Wood, an enterprising architect, who was encouraged by the proprietors of land in the vicinity, about the year 1728, first led to its improvement; and the excellent quarries of freestone in the neighbourhood facilitated the execution of an enterprise which has embellished it with splendid edifices, and raised it to the highest rank as a place of fashionable resort. The town is pleasantly situated on the banks of the river Avon, along which its buildings extend more than two miles, decorating the acclivities, and crowning the summits, of the fine range of hills by which it is environed. Over that part of the Avon which skirts the eastern side of the town, are two stone bridges, one of ancient, the other of modern, erection: a handsome iron bridge has been constructed, connecting Walcot with Bathwick, and affording a direct entrance from the London road into that improving part of the town; and more recently, a similar structure, called the North Parade bridge, has been erected, connecting the parades with Bathwick and Widcombe. Three smaller bridges on the suspension principle, one near Grosvenor-buildings, the other two on the Tiverton side of the city, add to the public convenience.
Among the earliest of the modern improvements is Queen's-square, the houses in which are decorated with columns and pilasters of the Corinthian order; in the centre is an obelisk 70 feet high, erected in 1738 by Beau Nash, to commemorate the visit of the then Prince and Princess of Wales, who occupied a house in the square. The Circus is a noble range of uniform edifices, and the Royal Crescent, also, is characterised by a simple grandeur of elevation, and has, in front, an extensive lawn, which slopes gradually until bounded by a noble avenue leading to and forming part of the Royal Victoria Park, which comprises walks of the most attractive character, and a spacious carriage drive. Above the Crescent are St. James's-square, Cavendish-place and crescent, Somerset-place, and Lansdown-crescent, rising successively above each other, and forming so many stations from which may be seen the central parts of this elegant city, encircled as in an amphitheatre of gracefully swelling hills. In the lower part of the town considerable improvements are in progress; the houses which formerly obscured the abbey have been removed, and that ancient and noble edifice has undergone a thorough repair, under the care and from the funds of the old corporation. Through Orange-grove, in the centre of which is an obelisk commemorating the restoration of the Prince of Orange to health by drinking the waters, a carriage-road has been formed; and other alterations are in progress, contributing much to the convenience of the public. In the new town, on the eastern bank of the Avon, is Laura-place, a neat range in the form of a lozenge, from which proceeds Great Pulteney-street, an extended series of mansions, at the extremity of which are Sydney gardens, occupying a spacious area surrounded by buildings forming Sydney-place, not inferior in beauty and elegance to the most splendid part of the city. Bath has been lighted with gas since 1819. The hills which surround it abound with springs, within 50 feet of their summits, and no forcing apparatus is required for supplying any part of the town: an act for a better supply of water, was passed in 1846.
All the baths belong to the corporation, except some small ones, formerly the property of the Duke of Kingston. In 1811, fears being entertained of the escape of the hot springs, considerable sums were laid out in puddling the ground through which they rise; and more recently, an individual, in boring for a well, reached one of the hot springs, and the aperture was not closed without much expense. No inconvenience, however, is at present felt from a deficiency of water in any of the baths. In the 29th of George III. a statute, called the Bath Improvement act, was obtained, principally for the improvement of the baths and pump-room, under which commissioners were appointed, with power to levy tolls and raise money on mortgage of them; and the corporation, in addition to the payment of an annual sum towards the reduction of the debt thus incurred, disbursed £7163, and gave up buildings and other property valued at £9000, towards the improvements. These improvements consisted principally in rebuilding the pump-room, and in the removal of houses, for the purpose of securing the springs, and rendering the approaches to the baths and pump-room more commodious: the property improved under the act was finally vested in the corporation. The grand pump-room, the centre of attraction during the fashionable season, was erected in 1797, and is a handsome building, eighty-five feet in length, forty-eight in width, and thirty-four in height. The interior is lighted by a double range of windows, and decorated with pillars of the Corinthian order, supporting a rich entablature and a lofty covered ceiling: at the west end is an orchestra, and at the eastern a well-executed marble statue of the celebrated Beau Nash, under whose superintendence as master of the ceremonies, the elegant amusements of the place were for many years regulated. The principal entrance is through a portico of four lofty columns of the Corinthian order, supporting a triangular pediment, under the tympanum of which is inscribed, "[ARISTON MEN UDOR]." The King's bath contains 364 tons of water, and is conveniently fitted up with seats and recesses, having also a handsome colonnade of the Doric order, with the statue of Bladud, the traditionary patron of the waters. The Queen's bath, adjoining it, has likewise suitable apartments. The Cross bath, so called from a cross erected in the centre of it, and the Hot bath, so named from its superior degree of heat, the mean temperature being 117° of Fahrenheit, have the convenience of dry and vapour baths; and a small pump-room has been erected. The waters contain carbonic-acid and nitrogen gases, sulphate and muriate of soda, sulphate and carbonate of lime, and silicious earth, with a minute portion of oxyde of iron; and are efficacious in gout, rheumatism, palsy, biliary obstruction, and cutaneous disorders. The corporation, with great liberality and taste, have also erected several private baths for the accommodation of invalids and others; besides a swimming-bath of very large dimensions, probably unrivalled for beauty and commodiousness.
A Literary and Philosophical Institution was established in 1820: the buildings, occupying the site of the lower assembly-rooms, which were burnt down in 1820, are of the Doric order. The Mechanics' Institution in Queen's-square, erected in 1839, is an appropriate structure in the Grecian style. The Bath and West of England Society for the encouragement of Agriculture, the Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, by the distribution of premiums and medals, was instituted here in 1777, at the suggestion of Mr. Edmund Rack; and there are many excellent circulating libraries, the terms of which are reasonable. A handsome building for the Savings' bank has been erected in Charlottestreet, at an expense of £2500. Among the chief sources of amusement are the subscription assemblies and concerts, which are held during the season, under the superintendence of a master of the ceremonies, whose office, being equally honourable and lucrative, has been warmly contested by the successive candidates. The rooms are superbly elegant; the ball-room is 105 feet long, 43 wide, and 22 high, and the card-rooms, library, and rooms for refreshment, are furnished in a style of great splendour. The city assemblies, for those who are not eligible as subscribers to the upper rooms are held, by permission of the corporation, in the banquet-room of the guildhall. The Theatre, a well-adapted edifice, in the centre of the city, among the buildings of which it is distinguished by the loftiness of its elevation, is handsomely fitted up and decorated; the ceiling is divided into compartments embellished with exquisite paintings by Cassali, removed from Fonthill Abbey. The building was completed in 1805, and is regularly open during the season; it has been long and deservedly eulogized for the excellence of the performances, and many actors who have attained the highest degree of eminence on the London stage have made their debût here. Sydney gardens afford an agreeable promenade at all times, and during the summer attract numerous assemblages to public entertainments and exhibitions of fireworks, upon which occasions they are brilliantly illuminated. The Subscription Club-house, in York-buildings, containing a spacious suite of rooms, is established upon the plan of most of the superior club-houses in London; the annual subscription is six guineas and a half. There are subscription billiard-rooms in Milsom-street, to which those are admissible who are eligible to the assemblyrooms; also two extensive riding-schools, in one of which is a spacious covered ride for invalids in unfavourable weather. Lansdown and Claverton down afford delightful equestrian excursions, displaying much variety, and abounding in interesting scenery. The races take place on Lansdown, the week after Ascot races; there is also a spring meeting in April. On this down, the late Mr. Beckford erected a tower of considerable height and beauty, commanding a most extensive prospect of the surrounding country.
The town is favourably situated for trade: the river is navigable to Bristol, and the Kennet and Avon canal maintains an inland communication with London and the intermediate places. The Great Western railway, from London to Bath and Bristol, was opened throughout on the 30th of June, 1841; most of the heaviest works of the line occur in the neighbourhood of this city. The Bath viaduct extends 800 feet in length, and 30 in breadth, and rests on 65 segmental arches, of about 20 feet span, constructed of Bath stone, and presenting a uniformity of design with the other buildings of the city; connected with this work is an oblique wooden bridge, formed at an angle of 28°, supported on stone piers, and crossing the river Avon, with openings of 99 feet span, by which the railway is carried 36 feet above the level of the river. The Bath station, which covers a space of 13,500 square feet, is elevated 30 feet above the contiguous ground, and is approached by an ascending carriage-way from Pierrepoint-street. An act was passed in 1846 for making a branch of 7½ miles, from Bath, to the Wilts, Somerset, and Weymouth railway. The only branches of manufacture carried on are those of woollen cloth, Bath coating, and kerseymere, which are made in the vicinity. The markets are held on Wednesday and Saturday, in an area behind the guildhall, the wings of which form the principal entrances: the market-house is extensive and commodious. The corn and cattle markets are in Walcotstreet, and were built about 30 years since, by the corporation, at an expense of £6000; the coal-market is in the Saw-close. The fairs are on Feb. 14th and July 10th.
The city enjoyed, under Edgar and other Saxon monarchs, many valuable municipal privileges, which were afterwards confirmed by Richard I. and other monarchs, subsequently recognised and enlarged by a charter of Queen Elizabeth, and finally by George III., who made such modifications in the charter as the increasing importance of the place required. By the act 5th and 6th of William IV. cap. 76, the corporation consists of a mayor, fourteen aldermen, and forty-two councillors, constituting the council of the borough, which is divided into seven wards; the magistrates are twelve in number, and the police force comprises a principal, two superintendents, twelve inspectors, and 132 constables. Since the passing of the above act, quarter-sessions, having been applied for by the council, and granted, are regularly held before the recorder; and as lords of the manor, the corporation hold a court leet, at which the townclerk presides. The powers of the county debt-court of Bath, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Bath, and part of that of Keynsham. The corporation possess a large revenue applicable to civic purposes, and also hold some property called the Bath Common estate, lying to the west of the city, in trust for all the resident citizens, who participate equally in its profits; it comprises about 100 acres, let as a grazing-farm, and is a parcel of the ancient manor or grange of Barton Regis. The elective franchise was conferred in the reign of Edward I., since which time the city has continued to return two members to parliament; the borough consists of 3534 acres; the mayor is returning officer. The Guildhall is an elegant structure of freestone: the front is decorated with a portico of four lofty Corinthian columns, rising from a rustic basement, and supporting a triangular pediment with a rich entablature and cornice, in the tympanum of which are the city arms, and on the apex a finely sculptured figure of Justice; above the cornice is a handsome balustrade, with urns. The building comprises on the ground floor a vestibule, sessions-hall, offices for the courts of record and requests, and for the chamberlain and town-clerk; and in the upper story, a magnificent suite of apartments formerly devoted to civic entertainments. In the mayor's room is a beautiful head of Minerva, or Apollo, of gilt brass, which was discovered in 1727, sixteen feet below the surface of the ground, in Stall-street, and is thought to be part of a mutilated statue, the remainder of which is buried near the same spot. The prison is a spacious building, occupying an area of 60 feet in front and 80 feet in depth, with a large court-yard, and cells in which delinquents are confined previously to their committal to the county gaol.
Jointly with Wells, Bath is the head of a diocese comprising very nearly the whole of the county of Somerset; the income of the bishop is £5000. The parish of St. Peter and St. Paul, or the Abbey parish, and the parish of St. James, form a rectory, with the vicarage of Lyncombe and Widcombe (which see) annexed: the living is valued in the king's books at £20. 17. 11.; net income, £750; patrons, the Trustees of the Rev. Charles Simeon. The Abbey church is a venerable and finelyproportioned cruciform structure, in the later English style, of which it forms one of the purest specimens: from the intersection an irregularly quadrilateral tower rises to the height of 162 feet. It occupies the site, and is built partly with the materials, of the conventual church of the monastery founded by Osric in 676, which had subsisted, under different forms of government, for more than 800 years. This church having become dilapidated, Bishop Oliver King (as it is said, admonished in a dream, of which a memorial is sculptured on the west front,) began to rebuild it in 1495; but dying before it was completed, and the citizens refusing to purchase it from the commissioners of Henry VIII., the walls were left roofless, till Dr. James Montague, bishop of the diocese, aided by a liberal contribution from the nobility and gentry resident in the county, completed it, in the year 1606. The revenue of the monastery, at the Dissolution, was £695. 6. 1¼. The edifice has now, as before noticed, undergone a thorough repair and embellishment at the expense of the corporation; but not in accordance with the simplicity of its original style of architecture. St. James's church, rebuilt in 1768, is an elegant structure in the later English style. The Octagon chapel, in Milsom street, was erected in 1767, and is much admired: the living is in the patronage of the Rev. G. G. Gardiner. The living of the parish of St. Michael was until recently annexed to the Abbey rectory; but is now a distinct rectory, with a net income of £182: the church, rebuilt in 1835, is of early English character, with a lofty and well-proportioned spire of great beauty.
The parochial church of St. Swithin, Walcot, a spacious edifice within the liberty of the city, was rebuilt in 1780: the living is a discharged rectory, valued in the king's books at £6. 19. 9½.; net income, £600; patron, the Rev. S. H. Widdrington. Christ church was erected by subscription, in 1798, for the especial accommodation of the poor, and is a handsome building in the later English style. All Saints', Lansdown-place, erected in 1794, is a good specimen of the decorated style, and has twelve fine windows in which the heads of the Apostles are painted, and an east window with a painting of the Last Supper. These two churches, with that of St. Stephen, Lansdown, are presented to by the rector of Walcot. Portland chapel until lately belonged to the Roman Catholics, but is now in connexion with the Church of England: Margaret chapel, in Margaretbuildings, is a spacious and handsome structure of early English architecture. These two chapels, with that of St. Thomas, are presented to by the Rev. S. H. Widdrington. Trinity church, in St. James's street, is of recent erection: the living is a district rectory; net income, £350; patron, the Rev. Dr. Hillcoat. St. Mary's chapel, Queen-square, was built by subscription in 1735, and is a handsome Grecian edifice; the exterior of the Doric, and the interior of the Ionic, order. There is also a chapel in Avon-street, the incumbency of which is in the gift of the Rector of Trinity. At Lambridge is the church of St. Saviour, Walcot: the living is a district rectory, in the gift of the Rev. Dr. Stamer, with a net income of £390. Kensington chapel, a neat building near the London road, was erected by subscription, in 1795: the incumbency is in the patronage of R. Heywood, Esq. There are three places of worship for Wesleyans, two for Baptists, and one each for the Society of Friends, the Connexion of the Countess of Huntingdon, Independents, Moravians, and Unitarians; also two Roman Catholic chapels.
The Free Grammar school was founded by Edward VI. in 1552, and endowed with lands belonging to the dissolved religious houses: the management is vested in the trustees of the public charities of the city, who appoint the master, and allow him a salary of £60 per annum, and an excellent house. The rectory of Charlcombe was annexed to the mastership by the late Rev. William Robins, for the instruction of ten additional boys, sons of freemen or inhabitants of the city, in classical and commercial learning. Among the numerous other schools is the Blue-coat charity school, for 50 boys and 50 girls, established in 1711, by Robert Nelson, Esq. The Roman Catholics have a noble seminary at Prior Park, near the city, which property was purchased a few years since by the Rt. Rev. Dr. Baines, Bishop of Siga. The Bath Hospital, open to the poor from every part of the kingdom, whose maladies require the use of the Bath waters, is maintained by voluntary contributions, and is under the direction of a president and governors, incorporated by act of parliament, who have a common seal, and are empowered to fill up vacancies in their own body. The Bath United Hospital combines the objects of the late city dispensary and casualty infirmary, and a spacious building has been erected for it near the Cross bath; this and the West Walcot dispensary, and an infirmary in Pierrepoint-street, for curing diseases of the eye, are also supported by subscription. There are three societies for the relief of women during childbirth; an asylum for the support of young females, and for instructing them in household work; a house of protection for orphans and destitute females; an establishment for aged, and an asylum for young, females; a penitentiary, with a chapel; and other charitable institutions of various kinds, adapted to the wants of the distressed poor, and to the mitigation of almost every species of calamity. St. John's Hospital, for the maintenance of six aged men and six women, was founded in the reign of Henry II. by Reginald Fitz-Jocelyn, who endowed it with lands then producing £22 per annum; attached is a neat chapel, in which the master, who must be a clergyman of the Established Church, officiates daily. Partis' College, a capacious range of building, occupying three sides of a quadrangle, on the upper road to Bristol, and comprising a chapel and separate dwellings for 30 decayed gentlewomen, ten of whom must be either the widows or daughters of clergymen, was founded and endowed by Mrs. Partis, in fulfilment of the intention of her husband, Fletcher Partis, Esq., who died before it was carried into effect. The poor law union of Bath comprises 24 parishes and places, and contains a population of 69,232.
The remains of antiquity found at different times in the city, are of British, Roman, and Saxon origin, and clearly demonstrate the fact of its having been severally occupied by those people. Among the British antiquities are celts, or stone hatchets, hand millstones, boars' teeth, and amber beads, discovered in the burial-places of the Britons; also a small silver coin, having on the obverse a rude head in profile, and on the reverse a star, or wheel. Among the Roman were found, in 1753, a pedestal with a Latin inscription; in 1755, parts of the Roman baths, and several of the large tubulated bricks, which conveyed the heat to the sudatoria; and in 1790 a votive altar, fragments of fluted Corinthian columns, bassorelievos, and other relics of the temple of Minerva, besides numerous coins of the emperors Nero, Trajan, Adrian, Antonine, Gallienus, Claudius Gothicus, Maxentius, and Constantine, with some of Carausius, who assumed the Roman purple in Britain. On digging the foundation of the new bridge over the Avon to Walcot, the remains of an old ford were observable, and a leaden vessel was found, containing some hundreds of denarii, and several small brass coins from the time of the Emperor Valens to that of Eugenius: for the reception of these a room was appropriated by the corporation, in which they are deposited, with a due regard to classification. The Saxon remains, exclusively of coffins, &c., consist of what is still visible in the city walls erected by the Saxons on the Roman foundation, in which are inserted fragments of the ruined temple, pieces of sculpture, and parts of triumphal arches, intermixed with the original materials. In a stone coffin has been discovered a small copper box, in the form of a rouleau, divided into two parts; the upper part being covered by a slide, probably intended for perfume, and the lower part filled with small silver coins resembling the early Saxon scattæ. John Hales, called the "ever memorable," was a native of the city, and received the rudiments of his education in the grammar school. Benjamin Robins, a celebrated mathematician, and the writer of the account of Commodore Anson's voyage round the world, was also born here, in 1707. And closely connected with Bath for several years, though not a native, was Ralph Allen, Esq., of Prior Park, an elegant mansion one mile south of the city, which was in his time the resort of several of the wits and literati of the age: this gentleman, supposed to be the original of Fielding's Allworthy in his novel of Tom Jones, died in 1764, and was interred at Claverton, where is a handsome monument to his memory. Bath gives the title of Marquess to the family of Thynne, of Longleat House.