During my visit to the charming city of Bath, I visited the famous Bath Abbey. Also known as the “Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul”, Bath Abbey sits at the center of the city and draws many visitors from all around the world with its gorgeous architecture and very-well preserved interior.
Originally founded in early 7th century, the abbey went through many restoration and reorganization processes throughout the history. It took the current form by the works of George Gilbert Scott, a famous English architect from the Victorian era. This abbey is one of the largest examples of Perpendicular Gothic architecture (another famous example: Westminster Abbey). It takes this name because of its emphasis on vertical lines.
When I entered inside the abbey, I was fascinated by how clean and new it looks. Considering that this is an ancient monument, I really admire the effort put into preservation and the restoration of this abbey. The gorgeous fan vault is probably one of the best features of this abbey. Different from the rib vaults, fan vaults are way more detailed and a conoid shape is farmed which gives the name “fan”.
The abbey is also built on Bath stone which is an oolitic limestone, which has a warm, honey color. One great feature of this stone is that it’s a freestone, which means it can be sawn in any direction compared to other stones used for the construction of the abbeys. This maybe explains the amount of effort put into detailing of the interior.
The abbey is still an active place of worship, it’s admission free but donations are more than welcome.
Westminster Abbey has been the most important cathedral for centuries in the UK, mainly because of its association to the royal family. Since 1066 all the coronations of the queens and kings have been held here (with the only exception being Henry III who couldn’t make it to London because of the French occupation in the city around that time). Another feature of this abbey is that, it was home to numerous royal weddings, including the recent marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton.
But what importance does this abbey hold other than being home to weddings and coronations? When I visited the abbey recently and had a chance to talk to the Dean of Westminster Abbey Sally Dawson, I had the opportunity to learn many interesting facts about this structure. Here’s a transcript of our chat that day:
Can you tell me a little bit about the history of this abbey, why is it so important to the royal family?
Scientific research shows us that the first abbey was first founded in the time of Mellitus, around 600s. It was called St. Peter’s abbey, inspired by a sighting of St. Peter near the church. However the present day Westminster Abbey was initialised by Henry III in 1245 on the ruins of St. Peter’s abbey. The importance of the abbey most definitely comes from the close proximity to Westminster Palace and numerous Norman kings demanding their bodies to be buried in this cathedral.
The abbey is constructed in Anglo-French Gothic architectural style and it was a shrine to Saint Edward the Concessor. A lot of features of this building are undeniably Gothic, the stained glasses the flying buttresses and the pointy spires. Many similarities to Notre-Dame de Paris can be drawn.
Finally, what sort of reconstructions and plans are ahead for this abbey?
Three years ago we announced the next 250 years reconstruction plans for the abbey, which is available online, a corona was intended to be built but after some exploratory work we can say that construction of this corona is suspended indefinitely.
Thank you very much Ms. Dawson for your time.
Admission is £15 for adults and £13 for concessions.