History is close to the surface in Bath, and this day-long walking tour, with time to stop for lunch, focuses on two highpoints in the city’s timeline: its Roman beginnings and its Georgian heyday. The well-preserved Roman Baths offer a window back more than 2,000 years to Roman-occupied Britain. At No. 1 Royal Crescent you can see how the fashionable ladies and gentlemen of the Georgian era would have lived, in the end terrace of one of the greatest architectural feats of the age. And in a behind-the-scenes tour of Bath Abbey, you can walk in the footsteps of hundreds of years of monks and worshipers.
Your guide meets you at your hotel to escort you to the Roman Baths before they get too busy. At this exceptionally well-preserved site, you learn how the Romans made use of the city’s natural thermal waters to create a public bathing area. The enormity of the find has given historians detailed insights into Roman culture and daily life.
Directly outside the Roman Baths is Bath Abbey, a beautiful building that has stood since the 1500s. There has been a Christian church on this site since 757 AD, although it has changed in appearance and size as different conquering nations enforced their own style of worship.
Today, Bath Abbey is a glorious Gothic church built from the local honey-hued Bath stone. Its exterior is intricately decorated with statues depicting characters from history as well as Biblical figures, in particular the two Jacob's Ladders of angels ascending to heaven either side of the arched window. The inside is notable for its exquisite fan-vaulted ceilings.
You can take a behind-the-scenes tour of the abbey, which leads you up the tower and over the ceiling, into the bell and ringing chambers and behind the clock face itself. You can progress up onto the roof of the tower, which gives you views out across the skyline of Bath and the surrounding countryside.
From the abbey you walk to the Royal Crescent, which takes about 15 minutes although there are plenty of opportunities to stop en route. The crescent is one of England’s finest examples of Georgian architecture. Built in the 18th century, it has always been a prestigious residential area, with various notable figures living there over the years, including bluestocking Elizabeth Montagu and poet Christopher Anstey.
The crescent has an extensive private lawn overlooking the city, which is separated from the public Victoria Park by a ha-ha, a sunken wall constructed to be invisible and not interrupt the view.
Nearby are the Bath Assembly Rooms, which would have been a fashionable place to meet during the 18th century. These four elegant rooms, designed by John Wood the Younger, originally hosted music performances and dancing as well as tea parties and card games for high-society ladies and gentlemen. In the basement of the Assembly Rooms, the Fashion Museum offers a display of male and female English fashion changes from the late 18th century to present day.
Your guide can either escort you back to your hotel at the end of the day, or direct you to central Bath if you’d prefer.