Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey is an Anglican parish church and former Benedictine monastery in Bath, Somerset, England.[3] Founded in the 7th century, it was reorganised in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries; major restoration work was carried out by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 1860s. It is one of the largest examples of Perpendicular Gothic architecture in the West Country. The cathedral was consolidated to Wells Cathedral in 1539 after the abbey was dissolved in the Dissolution of the Monasteries, but the name of the diocese has remained unchanged.[4]

The church is cruciform in plan,[5] and able to seat 1,200. An active place of worship, it also hosts civic ceremonies, concerts and lectures. There is a heritage museum in the vaults.

The abbey is a Grade I listed building,[5][6] particularly noted for its fan vaulting. It contains war memorials for the local population and monuments to several notable people, in the form of wall and floor plaques and commemorative stained glass. The church has two organs and a peal of ten bells. The west front includes sculptures of angels climbing to heaven on two stone ladders.

Bath Abbey
Abadía de Bath, Bath, Inglaterra, 2014-08-12, DD 07
Bath Abbey as viewed from the South-West
Bath Abbey is located in Somerset
Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey
51°22′53″N 2°21′31″W / 51.3815°N 2.3587°WCoordinates: 51°22′53″N 2°21′31″W / 51.3815°N 2.3587°W
CountryUnited Kingdom
DenominationChurch of England
Previous denominationRoman Catholic
ChurchmanshipLow Church[1]
Websitewww.bathabbey.org
History
DedicationSaint Peter and Saint Paul
Administration
ParishBath Abbey with St James
DioceseBath and Wells
Clergy
RectorRevd Canon Guy Bridgewater
Canon MissionerRevd Stephen Girling
Assistant priest(s)Revd Evelyn Lee-Barber
Curate(s)Revd Jane Mitchell
Minister(s)Revd Ken Madden
Laity
Organist/Director of musicHuw Williams[2]
Bath Abbey Nave Fan Vaulting, Somerset, UK - Diliff
Looking west from the choir, showing the fan vaulting of the nave ceiling

History

Early history

In 675 AD, Osric, King of the Hwicce, granted the Abbess Berta 100 hides near Bath for the establishment of a convent.[7] This religious house became a monastery under the patronage of the Bishop of Worcester. King Offa of Mercia successfully wrested "that most famous monastery at Bath"[8] from the bishop in 781. William of Malmesbury tells that Offa rebuilt the monastic church, which may have occupied the site of an earlier pagan temple, to such a standard that King Eadwig was moved to describe it as being "marvellously built";[8] little is known about the architecture of this first building on the site. Monasticism in England had declined by that time, but Eadwig's brother Edgar (who was crowned "King of the English" at the abbey in 973[9]) began its revival on his accession to the throne in 959. He encouraged monks to adopt the Rule of Saint Benedict, which was introduced at Bath under Abbot Ælfheah (St. Alphege).

Norman Conquest to the Dissolution

Himnastigi
The sculptures of angels climb Jacob's Ladder on the west front of Bath Abbey

Bath was ravaged in the power struggle between the sons of William the Conqueror following his death in 1087. The victor, William II Rufus, granted the city to a royal physician, John of Tours, who became Bishop of Wells and Abbot of Bath.[10][11] Shortly after his consecration John bought Bath Abbey's grounds from the king,[11] as well as the city of Bath itself. Whether John paid Rufus for the city or whether he was given it as a gift by the king is unclear.[12] The abbey had recently lost its abbot, Ælfsige, and according to Domesday Book was the owner of large estates in and near the city; it was likely the abbey's wealth that attracted John to take over the monastery.[13] By acquiring Bath, John also acquired the mint that was in the city.[14] In 1090 he transferred the seat, or administration, of the bishopric to Bath Abbey,[15][16] probably in an attempt to increase the revenues of his see. Bath was a rich abbey, and Wells had always been a poor diocese. By taking over the abbey, John increased his episcopal revenues.[17] William of Malmesbury portrays the moving of the episcopal seat as motivated by a desire for the lands of the abbey, but it was part of a pattern at the time of moving cathedral seats from small villages to larger towns.[12] When John moved his episcopal seat, he also took over the abbey of Bath as his cathedral chapter, turning his diocese into a bishopric served by monks instead of the canons at Wells who had previously served the diocese.[18] John rebuilt the monastic church at Bath, which had been damaged during one of Robert de Mowbray's rebellions. Permission was given to move the see of Somerset from Wells – a comparatively small settlement – to the then walled city of Bath.[11][16]

When this was effected in 1090, John became the first Bishop of Bath, and St Peter's was raised to cathedral status.[19] As the roles of bishop and abbot had been combined, the monastery became a priory, run by its prior. With the elevation of the abbey to cathedral status, it was felt that a larger, more up-to-date building was required. John of Tours planned a new cathedral on a grand scale, dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul, but only the ambulatory was complete when he died in December 1122.[10] He was buried in the cathedral.[19] The most renowned scholar monk based in the abbey was Adelard of Bath; after his various travels he was back in the monastery by 1106.[20]

The half-finished cathedral was devastated by fire in 1137,[21] but work continued under Godfrey, the new bishop, until about 1156; the completed building was approximately 330 feet (101 m) long. It was consecrated while Robert of Bath was bishop. The specific date is not known; however, it was between 1148 and 1161.[22]

In 1197, Reginald Fitz Jocelin's successor, Savaric FitzGeldewin, with the approval of Pope Celestine III, officially moved his seat to Glastonbury Abbey, but the monks there would not accept their new Bishop of Glastonbury and the title of Bishop of Bath and Glastonbury was used until the Glastonbury claim was abandoned in 1219.[23] Savaric's successor, Jocelin of Wells, again moved the bishop's seat to Bath Abbey, with the title Bishop of Bath. Following his death the monks of Bath unsuccessfully attempted to regain authority over Wells.[24] There were 40 monks on the roll in 1206.[25]

Joint cathedral status was awarded by Pope Innocent IV to Bath and Wells in 1245.[26] Roger of Salisbury was appointed the first Bishop of Bath and Wells, having been Bishop of Bath for a year previously. Later bishops preferred Wells, the canons of which had successfully petitioned various popes down the years for Wells to regain cathedral status. Bath Cathedral gradually fell into disrepair. In 1485 the priory had 22 monks.[25] When Oliver King, Bishop of Bath and Wells 1495–1503, visited Bath in 1499 he was shocked to find this famous church in ruins.[27][28][22] He also described lax discipline, idleness and a group of monks "all too eager to succumb to the temptations of the flesh".[25]

King took a year to consider what action to take, before writing to the Prior of Bath in October 1500 to explain that a large amount of the priory income would be dedicated to rebuilding the cathedral.[29] There are several stories that, on a visit to Bath, King had a dream in which he "saw the Heavenly Host on high with angels ascending and descending by ladder" which is now represented on the west front of the cathedral.[30][31][32] However, this interpretation, which first appeared in the writings of John Harington, around 100 years after it was supposed to have happened, has been challenged.[30][33]

Robert and William Vertue, the king's masons were commissioned, promising to build the finest vault in England, promising "there shall be none so goodely neither in England nor France".[22] Their design incorporated the surviving Norman crossing wall and arches.[22] They appointed Thomas Lynne to supervise work on site and work probably began the following spring.[22] Oliver King planned a smaller church, covering the area of the Norman nave only.[25] He did not live to see the result, but the restoration of the cathedral was completed just a few years before the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539.[34]

Reformation and subsequent decline

Bath Abbey, 1875
The abbey in 1875

Prior Holloway surrendered Bath Priory to the crown in January 1539. It was sold to Humphry Colles of Taunton.[35] The abbey was stripped of its co-cathedral status in the aftermath of the Dissolution when the cathedral was consolidated in Wells. The church was stripped of lead, iron and glass and left to decay. Colles sold it to Matthew Colthurst of Wardour Castle in 1543. His son Edmund Colthurst gave the roofless remains of the building to the corporation of Bath in 1572.[35] The corporation had difficulty finding private funds for its restoration.[36]

In 1574, Queen Elizabeth I promoted the restoration of the church, to serve as the grand parish church of Bath. She ordered that a national fund should be set up to finance the work,[37] and in 1583 decreed that it should become the parish church of Bath.[36] James Montague, the Bishop of Bath and Wells from 1608–1616, paid £1,000 for a new nave roof of timber lath construction; according to the inscription on his tomb, this was prompted after seeking shelter in the roofless nave during a thunderstorm. He is buried in an alabaster tomb in the north aisle.[38]

Modern renaissance

Bath Abbey c1900
Bath Abbey c. 1900

During the 1820s and 1830s buildings, including houses, shops and taverns which were very close to or actually touching the walls of the abbey were demolished and the interior remodelled by George Phillips Manners who was the Bath City Architect. Manners erected flying buttresses to the exterior of the nave and added pinnacles to the turrets.[39]

Major restoration work was carried out by Sir George Gilbert Scott in the 1860s, funded by the rector, Charles Kemble.[39] The work included the installation of fan vaulting in the nave, which was not merely a fanciful aesthetic addition but a completion of the original design.[40] Oliver King had arranged for the vaulting of the choir, to a design by William and Robert Vertue. There are clues in the stonework that King intended the vaulting to continue into the nave, but that this plan was abandoned, probably for reasons of cost. In addition a stone screen between the choir and nave was removed.[39] Scott's work was completed by his pupil Thomas Graham Jackson in the 1890s including work on the west front.[41]

Work carried out in the 20th and 21st centuries included full cleaning of the stonework and the reconstruction of the pipe organ by Klais Orgelbau of Bonn. The stonework of the west front had been subject to natural erosion therefore a process of lime-based conservation was carried out during the 1990s by Nimbus Conservation under the guidance of Professor Robert Baker who had previously worked on the west front of Wells Cathedral. Some of the damage to sculptures had been made worse by the use of Portland cement by previous work carried out in the Victorian era. A statue of St Phillip was beyond repair and was removed and replaced with a modern statue by Laurence Tindall.[42]

Architecture

Bath Abbey, ceiling - geograph.org.uk - 717407
Bath Abbey, vaults.

The Abbey is built of Bath stone, which gives the exterior its yellow colour, and is not a typical example of the Perpendicular form of Gothic architecture; the low aisles and nave arcades and the very tall clerestory present the opposite balance to that which was usual in perpendicular churches. As this building was to serve as a monastic church, it was built to a cruciform plan, which had become relatively rare in parish churches of the time. The interior contains fine fan vaulting by Robert and William Vertue, who designed similar vaulting for the Henry VII chapel, at Westminster Abbey. The building has 52 windows, occupying about 80% of the wall space,[27] giving the interior an impression of lightness, and reflecting the different attitudes towards churchmanship shown by the clergy of the time and those of the 12th century.

The walls and roofs are supported by buttresses and surmounted by battlements, pinnacles and pierced parapets, many of which were added by George Manners during his 1830's restorations.[6][43]

Abadía de Bath, Bath, Inglaterra, 2014-08-12, DD 46
Entrance

The nave, which has five bays, is 211 feet (64 m) long and 35 feet (11 m) wide to the pillars and rises to 75 feet (23 m),[44] with the whole church being 225 feet (69 m) long and 80 feet (24 m) wide.[45]

The west front, which was originally constructed in 1520, has a large arched window and detailed carvings.[6] Above the window are carvings of angels and to either side long stone ladders with angels climbing up them. Apart from the story mentioned above connecting it with Oliver King, Bishop of Bath and Wells 1495–1503 this is a direct reference to the dream of the prophet Jacob mentioned in the Bible and commonly called Jacobs Ladder.

Below the window a battlemented parapet supports a statue and beneath this, on either side of the door, are statues of St Peter and St Paul.[46] Restoration work in the late 20th century involved cleaning with electronically controlled intermittent water sprays and ammonium carbonate poultices. One of the figures which had lost its head and shoulders was replaced.[47] The sculptures on the West front have been interpreted as representing "spiritual ascent through the virtue of humility and descent through the vice of pride"[48] and Christ as the Man of Sorrow and the Antichrist.[48] During the 1990s a major restoration and cleaning work were carried out on the exterior stonework, returning it to the yellow colour hidden under centuries of dirt.[49]

Windows

Bath Abbey Eastern Stained Glass, Somerset, UK - Diliff
The stained glass and altar at the eastern end of the nave

The building has 52 windows, occupying about 80 percent of the wall space. The east end has a square-framed window of seven lights.[27] It includes a depiction of the nativity made by Clayton and Bell in 1872,[50] and was presented to the church by the Bath Literary Club.[51]

The window of the Four Evangelists over the northwest door is a memorial to Charles Empson, who died in 1861.[44]

In 2010 a stained glass window was uncovered in the abbey vaults. The design around the window is by William Burges.[52][53]

Tower

The two-stage central tower is not square but oblong in plan. It has two bell openings on each side and four polygonal turret pinnacles.[6] The tower is 161 feet (49 m) high,[54] and is accessed by a staircase of 212 steps.[28]

Tower of Bath Abbey as seen from the Roman baths
Tower as seen from Roman Baths

Bells

In 1700 the old ring of six bells was replaced by a new ring of eight. All but the tenor still survive. In 1770 two lighter bells were added to create the first ring of ten bells in the diocese. The tenor was recast in 1870.[55] The abbey's tower is now home to a ring of ten bells, which are – unusually – hung so that the order of the bells from highest to lowest runs anti-clockwise around the ringing chamber. The tenor weighs 33 cwt (3,721 lb or 1,688 kg).[56] Bath is a noted centre of change ringing in the West Country.

Interior

The interior fan vaulting ceiling, originally installed by Robert and William Vertue, was restored by Sir George Gilbert Scott between 1864 and 1874.[43] The fan vaulting provides structural stability by distributing the weight of the roof down ribs that transfer the force into the supporting columns via the flying buttresses.[57]

Scott's work in the 1870s included the installation of large gas chandeliers made by the Coventry metalworker Francis Skidmore. They were converted to electricity in 1979.[58] Other new features included a new pulpit and seating. A marble altarpiece from General George Wade in the sanctuary was removed and replaced with a decorative reredos.[59]

In the 1920s Thomas Graham Jackson redesigned the Norman Chapel into a War Memorial Chapel, now Gethsemane Chapel, and added a cloister.[60] New quire screens were installed in 2004, partly to improve the acoustics, topped with 12 carved angels playing musical instruments.[61]

A tiled floor dating from the late 13th to early 14th century was discovered in August 2018.[62] Work to rebury coffins which had previously been under the abbey and stabilise the floor included the digging of a trench in which the tiles were uncovered.[63]

Monuments

William Bingham Memorial Bath Abbey 20040731
The memorial to William Bingham, with figures of angels on each side of a wall-mounted plaque

Within the abbey are 617 wall memorials and 847 floor stones.[64] They include those dedicated to Beau Nash, Admiral Arthur Phillip (first Governor of the colony of New South Wales, which became part of Australia after federation in 1901), James Montague (Bishop of Bath and Wells), Lady Waller (wife of William Waller, a Roundhead military leader in the English Civil War), Elizabeth Grieve (wife of James Grieve, physician to Elizabeth, Empress of Russia), Sir William Baker, John Sibthorp, Richard Hussey Bickerton, William Hoare, Richard Bickerton and US Senator William Bingham. Many of the monuments in the churchyard were carved between 1770 and 1860 by Reeves of Bath. War memorials include those commemorating the First Anglo-Afghan War (1841–42), the First World War (1914–18), and the Second World War (1939–45). The most recent memorial was installed in 1958 to commemorate Isaac Pitman, the developer of Pitman shorthand, who died in 1897.[64]

Main organ

The first mention of an organ in the abbey dates to 1634, but nothing is known of that instrument. The first properly recorded organ in Bath Abbey was built by Abraham Jordan in 1708. It was modified in 1718 and 1739 by Jordan's son. The specification recorded in 1800 was one of twenty stops spread over three manuals.[65] The compasses of the manuals were extended, one and a half octaves of pedals were added and the instrument renovated in 1802 by John Holland; further repairs were effected by Flight & Robson in 1826.[8] This instrument was removed first to the Bishop's Palace at Wells in 1836,[66] then to St Mary's Church, Yatton, where it was subsequently rebuilt and extensively modified.[67]

Organ of Bath Abbey
The organ in the north transept, rebuilt in 1997 by Klais Orgelbau

The abbey's next organ was built in 1836 by John Smith of Bristol, to a specification of thirty stops over three manuals and pedals.[68] This instrument was rebuilt on a new gallery in the North Transept by William Hill & Son of London in 1868, to a specification of forty stops spread over four manuals and pedals, although the Solo department, which would have brought the total to well over forty, was not completed.[69] It was mostly removed to the Church of St Peter & St Paul, Cromer in 1896, the remainder being kept for incorporation in the new abbey organ.[70]

A new organ was supplied to the abbey in 1895 by Norman and Beard of Norwich. It had 52 stops spread over four manuals and pedals,[71] and stood divided on two steel beams in the North and South crossing arches, with the console standing on the floor next to the north-west pier of the crossing. New cases were to be provided to designs by Brian Oliver of Bath, but were never executed.[8] Norman & Beard re-erected it in a new case designed by Sir Thomas Jackson in the North Transept in 1914, with the addition of two stops to the Pedal.[8] It was again rebuilt by them in 1930, and then by Hill, Norman and Beard in 1948, which brought the number of stops to 58.[72] In 1972 this was increased to a total of 65 speaking stops. The Positive division, with its separate case behind the console, was installed at the same time. Problems caused by the tonal scheme's lack of coherence – the 1895 pipework contrasting sharply with that of 1972 – and with reliability, caused by the wide variety of different types of key actions, all difficult to access, led to the decision to have the instrument rebuilt yet again.

The organ was totally reconstructed in 1997 by Klais Orgelbau of Bonn, retaining the existing instrument as far as was possible and restoring it largely to its 1895 condition, although the Positive division was kept.[73] The instrument as it now stands has 63 speaking stops over four manuals and pedals,[74] and is built largely on the Werkprinzip principle of organ layout: the case is only one department deep, except for parts of the Pedal sited at the back rather than the sides of the case. New 75 percent tin front pipes were made and the case completed with back, side walls and roof. Pierced panelling executed by Derek Riley of Lyndale Woodcarving in Saxmundham, Suffolk, was provided to allow sound egress from the bottom of the case. The old console has been retained but thoroughly rebuilt with modern accessories and all-new manuals. Twenty-two of the organ's 83 ranks contain some pipework from the 1868 instrument. Four ranks are made up entirely of 1868 pipework, and 21 contain 1895 pipework. Only two ranks are entirely of 1895. Forty-eight ranks contain some new pipework, 34 of which are entirely new. Old wind pressures have been used wherever possible. The old wind reservoirs have also been restored rather than replaced. The instrument has tracker key action on the manuals, with electrically assisted tracker action to the pedals. The stop action is electric throughout.

Continuo organ

Roman baths 2014 16
Bath-Abbey and the Roman baths

A four-stop continuo organ was built for the abbey in 1999 by Northampton-based organ builder Kenneth Tickell.[75] The instrument, contained in a case of dark oak, is portable, and can be tuned to three pitches: A=440 Hz (modern concert pitch), A=415 Hz and A=465 Hz. Iit is also possible to tune at A=430. A lever pedal can reduce the stops sounding to only the 8' stop and, when released, returns the organ to the registration in use before it was depressed.[76]

Choir

The abbey has sections for boys, girls, men and children (the Melody Makers). As well as singing at the abbey, they also tour to cathedrals in the UK and Europe. The choir has broadcast Choral Evensong on BBC Radio 3,[77] and has made several recordings. It performed at the Three Tenors concert for the opening of the Thermae Bath Spa.[78] The abbey is also used as a venue for visiting choirs and, from its inception in 1947, the City of Bath Bach Choir.[79]

The choirs of Bath Abbey sung the 2015 Christmas Service live on BBC One.[80]

Heritage Vaults Museum

The Bath Abbey Heritage Vaults Museum was located in the restored 18th-century cellars, and featured artefacts and exhibits about the abbey's history. Displays included the different buildings on the site and their uses, the abbey's impact on the community, the construction, architecture and sculptures of the buildings, artefacts and sculptures, and the role of the abbey in present times.[81] The museum opened in 1994,[82] but has now been closed.

An angel on the way up, Bath Abbey west elevation - geograph.org.uk - 717346

An angel on the way up, Bath Abbey west elevation

Bath Abbey 2014 05
Edgar and dunstan bath abbey

19th-century stained glass window showing the coronation of King Edgar by Dunstan

Bath Abbey 2014 20

Bath Abbey

Bath.abbey.flying.buttresses.closeup.arp

Flying buttresses and a pinnacle at the abbey

Burials

See also

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Bibliography

External links

Alexander Champion (East India Company officer)

Brigadier-General Alexander Champion (died 15 March 1793) was Commander-in-Chief, India.

Arnold Ridley

William Arnold Ridley, OBE (7 January 1896 – 12 March 1984) was an English playwright and actor, earlier in his career known for writing the play The Ghost Train and later in life for portraying the elderly Private Godfrey in the British sitcom Dad's Army (1968–1977).

Bath, Somerset

Bath is the largest city in the ceremonial county of Somerset, England, known for its Roman-built baths. In 2011, the 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) south-east of Bristol. The city became a World Heritage site in 1987.

The city became a spa with the Latin name Aquae Sulis ("the waters of Sulis") c. 60 AD when the Romans built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon, although hot springs were known even before then.

Bath Abbey was founded in the 7th century and became a religious centre; the building was rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries. In the 17th century, claims were made for the curative properties of water from the springs, and Bath became popular as a spa town in the Georgian era. Georgian architecture, crafted from Bath stone, includes the Royal Crescent, Circus, Pump Room and Assembly Rooms where Beau Nash presided over the city's social life from 1705 until his death in 1761. Many of the streets and squares were laid out by John Wood, the Elder, and in the 18th century the city became fashionable and the population grew. Jane Austen lived in Bath in the early 19th century. Further building was undertaken in the 19th century and following the Bath Blitz in World War II.

The city has software, publishing and service-oriented industries. Theatres, museums and other cultural and sporting venues have helped 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.

There are several museums including the Museum of Bath Architecture, the Victoria Art Gallery, the Museum of East Asian Art, the Herschel Museum of Astronomy and the Holburne Museum. The city has two universities – the University of Bath and Bath Spa University – with Bath College providing further education. Sporting clubs include Bath Rugby and Bath City F.C..

Bath became part of the county of Avon in 1974, and, following Avon's abolition in 1996, has been the principal centre of Bath and North East Somerset.

Bath Abbey Cemetery

The Anglican Bath Abbey Cemetery, officially dedicated as the Cemetery of St Peter and St Paul (the patron saints that Bath Abbey is dedicated to), was laid out by noted cemetery designer and landscape architect John Claudius Loudon (1783–1843) in 1843 on a picturesque hillside site overlooking Bath, Somerset, England. The cemetery was laid out between 1843 and 1844.

The cemetery was consecrated on 30 January 1844. It was a private Anglican cemetery financed by W. J. Broderick, Rector of Bath Abbey.

The layout is a mixture of formal and informal arranged along a central avenue. It features a mortuary chapel, designed by Bath City Architect G. P. Manners in the then fashionable Norman Revival architectural style.

Bath Bach Choir

Bath Bach Choir, formerly The City of Bath Bach Choir (CBBC), is based in Bath, Somerset, England, and is a registered charity. Founded in 1946 by Cuthbert Bates, who also became a founding father of the Bath Bach Festival in 1950, the choir’s original aim was to promote the music of Johann Sebastian Bach via periodic music festivals. Bates – an amateur musician with a great love and understanding of this composer’s works – was also the CBBC’s principal conductor and continued in this role until his sudden death, in April 1980. This untimely exit pre-empted his planned retirement concert performance of J. S Bach's Mass in B minor, scheduled for July of the same year, and effectively ended the first period of the choir's history.

Distinguished Handelian scholar Denys Darlow succeeded Cuthbert Bates as musical director in 1980 and remained in the post until 1990. He was followed by Nigel Perrin, who has been conducting the CBBC ever since. Perrin began his musical life as a chorister at Ely Cathedral, then won a choral scholarship to King's College, Cambridge, studying under Sir David Willcocks. In 1970 he also joined the newly formed King's Singers, having sung with them on an occasional basis after graduation in the Summer of 1969, thereafter entertaining the world throughout the 1970s as the highest voice (counter-tenor) of the irrepressible and ground-breaking vocal group.

The first president of the CBBC was Dr Ralph Vaughan Williams OM until 1958. Sir Arthur Bliss CH KCVO KT, then Master of the Queen's Music (Musik), took over as president in 1959, followed in 1975 by Sir David Willcocks CBE MC, until 2015. In 2016 David Hill (choral director) MBE, musical director of The Bach Choir was elected president of Bath Bach Choir, and Jonathan Willcocks a vice president.

Buildings and architecture of Bath

The buildings and architecture of Bath, a city in Somerset in the south west of England, reveal significant examples of the architecture of England, from the Roman Baths (including their significant Celtic presence), to the present day. The city became a World Heritage Site in 1987, largely because of its architectural history and the way in which the city landscape draws together public and private buildings and spaces. The many examples of Palladian architecture are purposefully integrated with the urban spaces to provide "picturesque aestheticism". It is the only entire city in Britain to achieve World Heritage status, and is a popular tourist destination.

Important buildings include the Roman Baths; neoclassical architect Robert Adam's Pulteney Bridge, based on an unused design for the Rialto Bridge in Venice; and Bath Abbey in the city centre, founded in 1499 on the site of an 8th-century church. Of equal importance are the residential buildings designed and built into boulevards and crescents by the Georgian architects John Wood, the Elder and his son John Wood, the Younger – well-known examples being the Royal Crescent, built around 1770, and The Circus, built around 1760, where each of the three curved segments faces one of the entrances, ensuring that there is always a classical facade facing the entering visitor.

Most of Bath's buildings are made from the local, golden-coloured, Bath Stone. The dominant architectural style is Georgian, which evolved from the Palladian revival style that became popular in the early 18th century. The city became a fashionable and popular spa and social centre during the 18th century. Based initially around its hot springs, this led to a demand for substantial homes and guest houses. The key architects, John Wood and his son, laid out many of the city's present-day squares and crescents within a green valley and the surrounding hills. According to UNESCO this provided... "an integration of architecture, urban design, and landscape setting, and the deliberate creation of a beautiful city". Development during modern eras, including the development of the transport infrastructure and rebuilding after bomb damage during World War II, has mostly been in keeping with earlier styles to maintain the integrated cityscape.

Calling All Dawns

Calling All Dawns is a classical crossover album by Christopher Tin released in 2009. The album won two Grammys at the 53rd Grammy Awards for Best Classical Crossover Album and Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s) for the song "Baba Yetu", the theme for the 2005 video game Civilization IV. The win marks the first time in history that a Grammy has been awarded to a composition written for a video game.The album is a song cycle in three movements: day, night, and dawn (corresponding to life, death, and rebirth).Twelve songs are featured on the album, each sung in a different language. Many of the lyrics find their sources in important pieces of world literature, including excerpts of long works such as the Torah, the Bhagavad Gita, and The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, and also smaller verses such as the Lord's Prayer, Maori proverbs, and Japanese haiku. The album features a similarly diverse set of vocal traditions, including opera, Irish keening, and African choral music.The UK premiere of Kia Hora Te Marino was in Bath Abbey on 10 May 2014, at a concert in aid of the Royal British Legion.

Charles Foot Tayler

Charles Foot Tayler (1794–1853), sometimes spelled "Taylor", was a noted painter of portrait miniatures, active on the Isle of Wight and in Bath, England, in the first half of the 19th century.Taylor was born at Newport on the Isle of Wight. He had at least two brothers, Daniel (1787–1840) and Edward (1804–1869), known from his paintings of them.He was said to have been exceedingly accurate in his depiction of his sitters. He exhibited 'A portrait of Mr E. Tayler' at the Royal Academy in 1820, and exhibited other works there until the year of his death.

Among his subjects were Adelaide Lucy Fenton, Charles Abel Moysey, Archdeacon of Bath, General Sir Edwin B. Johnson, and General Sir Thomas Hawker KCH.He married his second wife, Sarah Matilda née Morris, at St Swithin's, Walcot, in 1850. At the time of the 1851 census he was living at 7 Oxford Row, Bath, with Sarah, who was then aged 30, and his children Daniel, aged 18, dentist student; Charly B., aged 15, artist-student; and Katholene [sic] A., aged 4, as well as two servants. Sarah and all the children were born in Bath.He died aged 55 on 24 July 1853 and is buried in section 5, row 5G of Bath Abbey Cemetery, with his daughter Charlotte Ann Susanna Tayler, who died on 30 May 1845, aged 15; and his (first) wife Ann Tayler, who died on 25 November 1847, aged 36. A 2008 survey noted that the grave's headstone was in a poor state of repair, having delaminated.Several of his works on ivory are in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, including a portrait of Susan Tayler, bequeathed by the artist's grandson.

Edmund Colthurst

Edmund Colthurst (1527 – after 1611) was a wealthy English landowner who inherited the former monastic estates of Hinton Priory and Bath Abbey, Somerset, following the death of his father in 1559. He was the son of Matthew Colthurst and Anne Grimston. He married Elinor de la Rivere (d. 1586), daughter of Thomas de la Rivere, with whom he had eight children. In 1572 he donated Bath Abbey church to the city authorities, but retained the rest of the former priory precinct for his own use. In 1602, Colthurst proposed creating an artificial watercourse, known as the New River, to supply drinking water to London and obtained a charter from King James I to construct it in 1604. After surveying the route and digging the first two-mile long stretch, Colthurst encountered financial difficulties and it fell to his partner, Sir Hugh Myddelton, to complete the work between 1609 and its official opening on 29 September 1613. Colthurst eventually sold Hinton Priory and most of his other estates and died sometime after 1611.

Ernest Sharpe

Ernest Newton Sharpe (1866 – January 1949) was an eminent Anglican. Priest in the 20th century.

He was born into an ecclesiastical family in 1866 and educated at Westminster and Clare College, Cambridge. Ordained in 1890, he began his career with a curacy at Bath Abbey. Following this he was Vicar of Emanuel Church, West Hampstead then Rector of Kersal. After this he was Rector of Holy Trinity, Marylebone, then Rural Dean of Paddington. A Prebendary then Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral, he was Archdeacon of London from 1930 to 1947. He died on 20 January 1949.

Fan vault

A fan vault is a form of vault used in the Gothic style, in which the ribs are all of the same curve and spaced equidistantly, in a manner resembling a fan. The initiation and propagation of this design element is strongly associated with England.

The earliest example, dating from about the year 1351, may be seen in the cloisters of Gloucester Cathedral. The largest fan vault in the world can be found in King's College Chapel, Cambridge.

The fan vault is peculiar to England. The lierne vault of the cathedral of Barbastro in northern Spain closely resembles a fan vault, but it does not form a perfect conoid. Harvey (1978) suggests Catherine of Aragon as a possible source of English influence in Aragon.

Four-centred arch

A four-centred arch, also known as a depressed arch or Tudor arch, is a low, wide type of arch with a pointed apex. It is much wider than its height and gives the visual effect of having been flattened under pressure. Its structure is achieved by drafting two arcs which rise steeply from each springing point on a small radius, and then turning into two arches with a wide radius and much lower springing point.

This type of arch, when employed as a window opening, lends itself to very wide spaces, decoratively filled with many narrow vertical mullions and horizontal transoms. The overall effect produces a grid-like appearance of regular, delicate, rectangular forms with an emphasis on the perpendicular. It is also employed as a wall decoration in which arcade and window openings form part of the whole decorative surface.

The style, known as Perpendicular Gothic, which evolved from this treatment, is specific to England, and is very similar to contemporary Spanish style in particular. It was employed to great effect through the 15th century and first half of the 16th, as Renaissance styles were much slower to arrive in England than in Italy and France.

It can be seen notably at the East End of Gloucester Cathedral where the East Window is said to be as large as a tennis court. There are three royal chapels and one chapel-like Abbey which show the style at its most elaborate: King's College Chapel, Cambridge; St George's Chapel, Windsor; Henry VII's Chapel at Westminster Abbey, and Bath Abbey. However, numerous simpler buildings, especially churches, built during the wool boom in East Anglia, also demonstrate the style.

Histon Road Cemetery, Cambridge

Histon Road Cemetery, formerly Cambridge General Cemetery, is a cemetery in north Cambridge, England, lying off Histon Road, opened in 1842. It is notable as one of only three designs by John Claudius Loudon, who covers it in detail in his influential book On the Laying Out, Planting and Managing of Cemeteries (1843); the other cemeteries associated with Loudon are Bath Abbey Cemetery, and Southampton Old Cemetery (where his plan was rejected). These experiences of practical planning directly affected Loudon's writing on the subject.

John of Tours

John of Tours or John de Villula (died 1122) was a medieval Bishop of Wells in England who moved the diocese seat to Bath. He was a native of Tours and was King William I of England's doctor before becoming a bishop. After his consecration as bishop, he was either given or purchased Bath Abbey, a rich monastery, and then moved the headquarters of the diocese from Wells, to the abbey. He rebuilt the church at Bath, building a large cathedral that no longer survives. He gave a large library to his cathedral and received the right to hold a fair in Bath. Not noted for his scholarship, he died suddenly in 1122.

Keyhaven

Keyhaven is a hamlet on the south coast of England in the county of Hampshire. It is a fishing village, but the trade has been in decline for a period of years and its main draw now is tourism, especially sailing.

List of organists and assistant organists of Bath Abbey

The Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, Bath, commonly known as Bath Abbey, is an Anglican parish church and a former Benedictine monastery in Bath, Somerset, England.

It has had several organs since the first was installed in 1634 and multiple organists and assistant organists since the 16th century.

Oliver King

Oliver King (c. 1432 – 29 August 1503) was a Bishop of Exeter and Bishop of Bath and Wells who restored Bath Abbey after 1500.

Stanton Prior

Stanton Prior is a small village, within the civil parish of Marksbury, set in Duchy of Cornwall countryside, 6 miles (9.7 km) south west from the UK city of Bath, Somerset.

Stanton Prior derives its name from the Old English 'Stantona' (meaning Stone Town) and is reputed to be one of the smallest villages in Somerset, consisting of two farms, 21 houses and the Church of St Lawrence, which has its origins in the 12th century but is mainly 15th century and underwent heavy restoration in 1860. The church has been designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building.The village was the property of Saxon Kings who gave it to Bath Abbey before the Norman Conquest and it was help by the Prior until the dissolution of the monasteries. It was then granted to Thomas Horner, who sold it to General Erington in 1544. The parish of Stanton Prior was part of the Keynsham Hundred.Close by, on Stantonbury Hill, are the remains of an Iron Age hill fort known as Stantonbury Camp, which lies on the line of Wansdyke. Stanton is home to a rare chain pump, albeit without its chain.

Ælfheah of Canterbury

Ælfheah (c. 953 – 19 April 1012) was an Anglo-Saxon Bishop of Winchester, later Archbishop of Canterbury. He became an anchorite before being elected abbot of Bath Abbey. His reputation for piety and sanctity led to his promotion to the episcopate, and eventually, to his becoming archbishop. Ælfheah furthered the cult of Dunstan and also encouraged learning. He was captured by Viking raiders in 1011 during the Siege of Canterbury and later killed by them the following year after refusing to allow himself to be ransomed. Ælfheah was canonised as a saint in 1078. Thomas Becket, a later Archbishop of Canterbury, prayed to him just before his own murder in Canterbury Cathedral.

Benedictine abbeys and priories in medieval England and Wales
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Church of England
Church in Wales
Scottish Episcopal Church

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