Just one mile west of Stratford Upon Avon, is the childhood home of Anne Hathaway, who later was to become Mrs. William Shakespeare. Formally known as Hewlands Farm, this 12 room house (not what we would typically know as a "cottage") sits on 90 acres of beautiful gardens and nature trails. The original part of the house (just two rooms) was constructed in 1463, with extensions being added up through the 17th century. Anne was born in this home in 1556. Shakespeare grew up just a mile away across the fields, and would often walk here during his courting of Anne. The Hathaway family owned this farm for 13 generations, until financial problems forced them to sell in 1846. However, they continued to live on the farm as tenants until 1892. This is a beautiful place! Anne Hathaway's Cottage can be visited as part of a five property William Shakespeare package ( the cheapest way to see them all).
The thatched roofed Hewlands farm house, now known as Anne Hathaway's Cottage.
It is quite picturesque and beautiful...
...of course, we just HAD to have our picture taken this way.
This is one of the two original rooms of the farm...
...and today is used to display some of the Hathaway's china. The stairway area beyond the door was a later addition.
As can be seen, this huge fireplace served multiple purposes; cooking food, baking bread, and heating the house. The Hathaways would eat their meals around the table in the foreground.
The baking oven could also be used to keep food warm until served.
The Master Bedroom. Notice the chair in the foreground. This is Shakespeare's "settle chair"( or courting chair). If you look closely at the chair's backing, you may be able to make out Shakespeare's Coat of Arms carved into it.
The four-poster beds were specifically developed for thatch roofed houses because animals could easily get under the thatching and drop down onto those below. The four posts were added to the beds so that sheets could be draped over the top to protect sleepers from the animals. Later on, the sheets were replaced with more decorative materials.
While today, these sculptured gardens in front of the house create a beautiful picture, during the time the Hathaways lived here, they more likely were grassy areas for sheep to graze.
What a beautiful scene!
William Shakespeare's family has had a long association with the area around Stratford Upon Avon. His mother, Mary Arden, grew up on a farm just three miles outside the city center, in the small village of Wilmcote. She was the eighth child of Robert Arden, a well-to -do farmer. Richard Shakespeare, William's grandfather, was a tenant former on the property. Mary married Richard's son John in 1557 and they had eight children (William was the third oldest). When Mary's father died, she inherited the property. Because it has remained a working farm over the centuries, the property has been well preserved. What we see today, is actually two farms. That, which was believed to have been Mary Arden's farm really belonged to a neighbor, Adam Palmer. When the adjacent farm was purchased in 2000 in order to preserve the area from development, research discovered that this was the true Arden farm. Carbon dating revealed that the farm house was originally constructed in 1514 and extended several times over the years. The combined properties provide wonderful insights into life in the late 16th century. We love this stuff!
The combined properties of Mary Arden's and Adam Palmer's farms.
Looking at the rear of the main houses. When you campare these two pictures, notice that the timbers on the front of the buildings are more numerous and closer together. The families were very social status conscious. They wanted to show off to passers by that they could afford the expensive timbers. However, knowing that no one but the families and the farm workers would see the rear of the property, they cut corners with fewer timbers spaced further apart.
Preparing lunch for those working the farm.
The family dining room also served as the "guest bedroom". Tradition dictated that this bed was never used by the family, only for guests, as it was the best bed in the house.
This is where the family and staff ate their every day, informal meals.
Children generally slept in their parents' room (in the trundle bed at the end) until they were old enough to work the farm. They then joined the older children in either the boys' or girls' bedroom...
...and these were usually just mattresses on the floor.
As can be seen here, the farm had a utilitarian set up with the out buildings surrounding a central courtyard behind the main house.
Nothing went to waste. Dried hay, animal waste products, and leaves from the gardens were put into a composite heap to create fertilizer for later crops.
There even is a blacksmith shop on the farm...
...as well as a barn for the wagons.
Apples were mashed on this grinding wheel to make apple cider.
Both the Arden's and the Palmers relied upon organic farming techniques.
Wrapping up our stay in Bath, England, we realized we had a few extra days to do something special before heading to our next destination. So...we took a five day side trip to Stratford-Upon-Avon, birthplace of perhaps the greatest English writer of all time, William Shakespeare. What a lovely town, and five days was just perfect! While there is an affordable Hop-On Hop-Off bus to take you to some of the attractions on the outskirts, 80% are within easy walking distances of the town center. We loved the architecture throughout the area, and the flowers, with their explosion of colors, decorating the town were spectacular! This side trip was a perfect decision on our part.
Philadelphian George W. Childs gave this clock tower to the town of Shakespeare's birth in 1887, the Jubilee Year of Queen Victoria.
The architecture of the town, such as the Arden Park building shown here, is impressive.
Built in 1470, the Old Thatch Tavern reportedly is the only surviving thatch building within the town center.
This road island next to the Stratford-Upon-Avon marina is beautifully decorated...
...and amazingly, well maintained.
The river Avon runs through the middle of town...
...and is serviced by this foot ferry (25 pence per person, per ride)...
...except for these local residents.
Bridge Street is one of the main roads through the center of town.
The Black Swan restaurant sits along side the Avon River. During World War II, American troops stationed in the area, nicknamed the restaurant "The Dirty Duck". Currently, it is known by both names.
The oldest pub (first established in 1586) has been known as the Garrick Inn since 1795. The building next door (under the American flag) is the Harvard House. It was bought by Thomas Rogers, grandfather to John Harvard (founder of Harvard University) in 1596. Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts currently owns it.
Part of this building houses the school attended by William Shakespeare.
Actor David Garrick, a contemporary of Shakespeare's, created the Beginnings of the Royal Shakspeare Company in 1769. Today, the RSC owns three theaters in Startford-Upon-Avon, the Royal Shakespeare theater, shown here, the Swan Theater, and The Other Place.
Built in 1827 for William Thomas Beckford, it was originally known as Lansdown Tower. Beckford, a novelist and art collector, bought a house on Lansdown Crescent near the center of the city. However, he also wanted an escape from city life, so he bought property on the top of Lansdown hill and commissioned the construction of a 154 foot tall tower to be used as his retreat and library. Many felt that Beckford squandered his family's money and thus called this site, Beckford's Folly.Following his death in 1844, Beckford's youngest daughter had his body moved from the Bath Abbey cemetery to a site adjacent to the tower. Shortly thereafter, the daughter donated the tower and property to Wolcot parish, so that a formal cemetery could be created. Other notables buried in the cemetery include British Labor politician, Henry Goodrich, Field Marshall William Rowan, and feminist writer Sarah Grand. While the grounds of the old part of the cemetery are not very well maintained, the views from the hill, especially from the top of the tower, are spectacular.
The 154 foot tall Beckford Tower sits atop Lansdown Hill and has a commanding view of the Bath countryside.
This 1844 chromolith by Willis Maddox depicts the drawing room at the base of the tower when Beckford used it as his retreat.
The Drawing Room as it looks today.
We've encountered a number of spiral staircases during our travels. This is one of the more picturesque.
Part of the museum on the middle level of the Tower.
The top of the Tower (just below the golden lantern)...
...has a commanding and spectacular view of the Bath countryside.
Looking across the older portion of the Wolcot Parish cemetery towards the Tower. As we mentioned, this part was not very well maintained.
Another portion of the cemetery, with the main entrance archway off to the right.
We were a bit disappointed that the cemetery grounds were not in better shape. It was a difficult to walk through the tall grass, and, as a result, did not get to see all of the graves.
Beckford had written that he wanted to be buried in a pink granite tomb next to the Tower, surrounded by a moat. So, his youngest daughter had his body moved from the Bath Abbey Cemetery to this site according to his wishes...
...that way he could enjoy his private retreat through all of eternity.
Georgian era (1714 to 1830) Bath gentry loved to be seen in social venues. In 1769, architect John Wood the younger designed just what they needed; the Bath Assembly Rooms. Located right in the early of the town, this set of elegant rooms included space for balls, concerts, gambling, and tea. Opened I. 1771, this hub for Bath's fashionable society included the likes of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens. The 100 foot ballroom could hold up to five hundred people and played host to at least two balls per week. Meanwhile, the Tea room could accommodate 250 folks. The Octagon was named for the shape of the room, with four fireplaces, and originally held an organ in the musicians gallery. Today, the building is owned by the National Trust and is available for private rentals.
The Assembly Rooms building as it looks today. It is located within the heart of Bath.
In its heyday, the massive ballroom was host to two major social events (balls and/or concerts per week.
There are five Whitefriars crystal chandeliers in the ballroom. Each is eight feet tall and held 40 candles.
Central lobby entrance into the Octagon Room.
The Octagon Room, today set up for a wedding, was once used for gambling by the gentry of Bath's society.
Since the Tea Room's capacity was only half that of the ballroom, there often was some pushing and shoving occurring during the initial phase of serving.
As an added bonus, in the basement of the Assembly Rooms is Bath's Fashion Museum. Created in 1963 when Doris Langley Moore donated her collection to the city, it was originally known as the Museum of Costume. The 100, 000 objects in this collection portrays the evolution of fashion from 1600 until the present day. Today, this is considered to be one of the world's top ten museums of fashion.
The earliest pieces in the collection are these gloves dated ca. 1600.
These dresses from ca. 1730, show the difference between what was called "open robes" and "closed robes".
It also included the evolution of men's clothes...
...and those of children.
Traveling the world, we've had ample opportunity to sample various restaurants and cuisines; some very good; others, not so much. One of our best experiences has been in a traditional pub; The Grapes Hotel in Bath, England. There has been some sort of structure on this site since 1302, although the first written record came from 1317 when, as a residence, it was rented for 4 shillings per year ( or about three Penni's in US currency). In 1620, the Mayor of Bath lived in this building and totally rebuilt it. The structure became a pub in 1800 and has the only surviving example of Jacobean plasterwork in Bath, other than the Abbey Vestry. Besides the history of the pub, what drew our interest to try this place was their Sunday Roast for just 5.99 British Pounds (just under eight dollars US). The food was well portioned and quite delicious, while the staff was extremely friendly. We loved it!
This frontage of "The Grapes" dates from 1720, although there has been a structure on this site from 400 years earlier.
This traditional type pub has a cozy dining area...
...as well as a typical, well stocked bar.
The Sunday roast meal was quite ample, delicious, and reasonably priced.
Deciding to explore the confines outside of Bath, we took a day trip to Cardiff, a port city on the south coast of Wales. This 57 mile journey was an easy one hour and 15 minute train ride. Cardiff sits at the mouth of the Taff River, where it meets the British Channel, and today is the tenth largest city in the UK. Archeologists have uncovered evidence that this area was settled some 6000 years ago ( approximately 1500 years before Stonehenge). For us, the most interesting part of this city was visiting Cardiff Castle. Sitting in the city center, this structure started out as a Roman defensive fort ca. 55 AD. Abandoned around the 4th century, it was later rebuilt by the Normans ca.1081. Having made its fortune in the coal industry, the very wealthy Stuart family, which held the titled of Marquess of Bute, acquired the property during the 18th century, and renovated it to include a beautiful Georgian style mansion. During World War II, air raid shelters (for 1800 people) were built within the walls. In 1947, the then current Lord Bute, gave the castle to the city as a tourist attraction. We found this castle to be absolutely stunning, especially the living quarters for the Marquess and his family.
The main entrance to this very well preserved castle.
The castle Keep built upon a Motte (i.e. an artificially constructed mound or hill).
Looking at the mansion from the castle walls.
A view of the Georgian style mansion for the Maquess of Bute.
One of the most stunning features is this beautiful clock tower.
We began our tour of the mansion within this elaborate gentleman's smoking and drinking room. Many affairs of business and of politics were often discussed and settled in rooms like this one.
The banquet hall is unbelievably beautiful.
While we were able to visit, we were NOT invited for dinner! What a shame!
This is the family's private dining room. Notice the whole in the middle of the table. Prior to the family eating, servants would pull open the table and place a tree sapling in the hole. The table would then be closed and set for diner. How many times have you sat under a tree in your dining room?
The master bedroom is typical for the times; having a large fireplace and a four-poster bed with curtains to keep the warmth in.
This additional bedroom had a unique feature attached to it...
...a fully functioning indoor bathroom, complete with running water
The top floor of the mansion played host to this elegant roof garden with its center fountain. The rectangular boxes would be filled with colorful flowers. Water from the fountain would flow out through the channels in the floor and then pumped back to the fountain.
What looks like a stone walkway leading up to the central keep actually is all that remains of a covered passage from the main gate. During the time of the Normans, this passageway also contained a prison.
The interior of the keep shows that this was a "shell keep, meaning it did not have a roof. At one time a great hall was located here but was destroyed during the 17th century civil war.
No visit to Bath would be complete without seeing The Royal Crescent. Built between 1767 and 1774 by architect John Wood the Younger, this semi-circular complex of thirty town houses was where many of Bath's upper society lived. The building was designed so that the front was uniform and symmetrical, while the rear took on various roof heights. Each occupant would purchase a length of facade and then could hire their own architect to build whatever they wanted behind it. The first house, Number One Royal Crescent, was owned by Irish Member of Parliament, Henry Sanford, from 1776 until 1796. This is now the headquarters of the Bath Preservation Trust and a wonderful museum about what life was like in the 18th century. Today, the original thirty houses have been divided into 18 apartment, 10 full size town houses, a five-star luxury hotel, and the museum. Throughout our travels, we've mentioned that history is important to us; so a visit here was a must, and a delight.
For more information on the whole complex; just Google "The Royal Crescent"; and
for further information on the museum, Google "Number One Royal Crescent."
The Royal Crescent complex as seen from Victoria Park.
The tall building on the right-hand side of the previous picture is "Number One Royal Crescent", home of the Bath Preservation Trust and the Royal Crescent museum.
Many of these old mansions make an effort to impress as soon as you enter the front door, with elegant looking staircases...
...and this certainly did impress.
The family room/parlor is where the informal breakfast was taken. Afterwards, the table would be cleared and moved into a corner, out of the way.
The Drawing Room was typically where the ladies would take tea and/or entertain....
...while the men of the house would retire to "The Gentlemen's Retreat" to smoke and study the sciences...
...such as how to make electricity on this hand generator .
This dining room was used for formal entertaining of guests...
...during which fruits, nuts, and sweets were particularly appreciated.
Lady Henrietta Sanford had her own bedroom...
...as did Henry.
This kitchen was located on the lower level of the house. Because the kitchen was in constant use, it was hard to regulate the heat within this confined space.
Even passage ways were put to good use.
Because the housekeepr's role was to organize everything and to pay bills, she often had her own room near the kitchen.
The servants would take all their meals in this hall. I could almost see Mr. Carson of Downton Abbey sitting at the head of this table passing out the day's instructions.
An all-purpose room off of the main kitchen area, known as the Scullery, was used for ironing...
...and washing pots and pans.
One unique feature of this house was this well pump that would send water to the upper parts of the house.
We've visited many of Europe's and the Near East's important historical sites during our two years of traveling; none more iconic than Stonehenge. This is easily the most recognizable prehistoric monument in the world. Research indicates that the earliest beginnings of this World Heritage Site, in the form of a circular ditch, may have happened 5000 years ago (approximately 3000 BC). It may very well have begun as an early cemetery, as the cremated remains of at least 150 folks have been excavated from the 56 "Aubrey Holes" in the ditch surrounding the stone circle. Archeologists believe that the "Heel Stone" on the northeast side of the circle may have indicated the original entrance. If you were to stand in the circle (which is not allowed now for conservation purposes), the sun of the summer solstice would rise over the "Heel Stone". Visiting Stonehenge was an all day event for us, beginning with a one hour train ride from Bath to Salisbury. We then had to grab a bus for the eight mile ride to Stonehenge, which is north of the city. On the positive side, the 28 British Pound fare included admission to Stonehenge and one other historic site -Old Sarum Castle (ca. 500BC). Stonehenge was privately owned until 1918, when it was given to Great Britain for preservation. We couldn't believe that we were actually here seeing this wonderful, prehistoric venue in person. We had to keep pinching ourselves to make sure we weren't dreaming. Who would think that a bunch of stones set in a circle could generate so much excitement?
The Stonehenge circle as it is seen today, following a lot of research so that the stones could be portrayed accurately.
We couldn't believe we were actually here.
This is the south side of the circle. In Front (near the #4 sign) is part of the ditch that surrounds the site. This is believed to be the earliest beginnings, perhaps as a cemetery. The cremated remains of 150 people have been excavated from this ditch.
The "Heel Stone" on the north side of the circle is believed to have indicated the original entrance to the circle. One legend states that it's name came from the Devil throwing the stone at a Friar and striking him in the heel. Another possible interpretation is that it came from a corruption of the Welch words " Freyja Sul" , meaning "way" and "Sunday."
Beside the Visitor's Center are recreations of thatched huts that were believed to have been built here to house the workers that created Stonehenge.
They bear a remarkable resemblance to other such ancient structures found throughout the world (including some North American native housing).
Inside the Visitors' Center museum is this bronze depiction of how Stonehenge was structured and oriented to the surrounding landscape.
Also on display in the museum are wonderful pictures of the rising summer solstice sun at Stonehenge...
...and as it sets on the other side.
Over the years, many questions were raised as to how prehistoric people's could have moved such massive stones to create Stonhenge. Local archeological students discovered that it really was not that difficult. As few as ten people were able to move this stone, using the wooden rollers, at a speed of one mile per hour..
One of the 56 "Aubrey Holes" found in th ditch surrounding the stone circle. Were they holes for posts used in raising the stones? Or were they burial sites ( since 150 cremated bodies were found nearby)?
On our return to Salisbury, we stopped at the other historic site; the ruins of Old Sarum Castle, about two miles north of the city. Originally, an Iron Age fort was built on this hill, ca. 500 BC. For a time, the Romans housed troops on this hill to protect the roads leading to Salisbury. William the Conqueror, saw the strategic value of the site and had a castle built within the fort's walls and moat.
The settlement of Old Sarum was built in the valley outside the castle/fort. These are the ruins of the original Cathedral, before it was moved to the city of Salisbury.
Yet another chance encounter (we seem to be a magnet for these). We became "extras" in a promotional commercial for the local Bath Rugby team. During our normal travels through the center of town, we happened upon a film crew (one of many we've encountered during our travels) setting up for a season kick-off promotion. Since they needed background "spectators", we agreed to be extras on the set. On the whole, this was an interesting experience, although a bit boring at times as they set up the various shots, or did multiple takes of the same action. The athletes, some of whom served as the "opposing team", appeared to be having a good time ribbing each other throughout filming.
The Bath Rugby team truck.
"Grass" carpet was installed in the plaza next to Bath Abbey, to simulate a rugby playing field.
It was a rather warm day, so the players stood under the tent between shots.
There were at least four cameras filming the commercial...
...including a still camera getting individual shots of the athletes and the crowd..
Getting instructions from the director as to what the next shot would entail...
...while the "opponents" enter the field.
"OK...who has the ball?"
Jamma de Samba entertained with some enthusiastic drumming. This apparently is the team band. At the beginning of each match, the band forms a double line through which teams members run onto the field. They also provide some half-time entertainment, although not like what we're used to during American football games.
This does not look like typical rivalry trash talking. If you look closely at the three open windows near the top of the building across the way, you may just make out the control booth.
"Sit down in front! I can't see the 'game'!"
Hamming it up with one of the spectators. The players were really good sports, posing with various spectators for personal photos.
How many times have we said that some of our best experiences happened, not by plan, but by circumstance? This was definitely one of those times. During one of our purely exploratory walks, i.e. with no particular destination in mind, we happened upon the Kennet and Avon Canal trail as a narrow canal boat was passing through one of the locks. This was facinating! Deciding to follow the canal, we had one of the most exciting adventures of our trip! John Rennie, Chief Engineer, surveyed the Kennet and Avon rivers in 1788 in the hopes of developing a commercial transport route between Newbury and London. Up to that point, overland routes were difficult and sea routes were perilous. Rennie's canal route would halve both the travel time and cost of moving coal and Bath stone to London. The system flourished until 1840 when the railroads provided an even faster and cheaper alternative. As we strolled along the canal and watched several boats traveling in both directions, it was easy to strike up conversations with those on board ( we were that close to each other). Canal boaters are very friendly folks. To our astonishment, a family of five asked if we would like to jump on board and ride with them for awhile. WOULD WE EVER!! My father had a boat ever since I was ten years old, so I basically grew up on one. Still, this was a new experience , and what an experience it was!! We rode this narrow canal boat for the better part of a mile, through several locks, before disembarking. It was a thrill of a lifetime! What a great day this turned out to be!
John Rennie, Chief Engineer of the Kennet & Avon Canal system.
Ranging in lengths of 38 feet to 70 feet, the narrow canal boats can be rented for up to $1,000 per week.
Waiting for the lock to fill so the boat can travel the next upper level.
The Duke of Cleveland built this house over the canal, with a fifty foot tunnel so that boats could continue travel the canal...
...however, the Duke charged a toll for passing through his tunnel. As boats approached, a bucket on a rope would be lowered through this hole to collect the toll.
No tolls are charged today.
The Cleveland House from the other side.
This chimney tower is all that is left of the pump station that would replenish waters to the upper locks. Locals began to complain that the pumping station was taking too much water from the rivers. So a different system had to be found.
The first two iron bridges built over the canal connected the Sydney Gardens with the community on the opposite side of the canal. These are two hundred years old.
As we walked along the canal, we met Geoff, " the Ref." In his younger years, Geoff played rugby . He then turned to refereeing (thus his nickname). He now owns a boat and spends his time traveling the canals...
This is Geoff's boat, the 38 foot "Erskin May."
If you look closely under the name, you can just make out the remnants of a logo. The previous owner had been a member of Parliament and was entitled to put this logo on the boat.
Teresa owns "The Pump Shed" snack shop beside the old chimney tower along the canal.
We struck up conversations with several boaters as they navigated the canal. Tracey, Jez, and Liam invited us to ride with them down through several locks.
"Is this lock opened far enough for us to make it through?"
In actuality, this was a very smooth and comfortable ride.
While the space is narrow, the living area was quite comfortable...
...and the galley was well appointed.
"Captain" of the boat. Tracey and Jez take their grandchildren on their annual cruises. This boat is owned by their parents, who live aboard 11 months of the year. for the twelfth month, the parents go to stay at Tracey and Jez' house while Tracey and Jez live aboard the boat .
Many locals living along the canal own their own boats.
The center of Bath is dominated by its Abbey and the adjacent Parade Gardens. Originally part of the Abbey grounds (but outside the medieval city walls), the gardens were used by the Abbey's monks as an orchard. In 1737, architect John Wood redesigned the area as gardens, known as "St. James' Triangle". The new gardens were to be used by Bath's society folks as a promenade following a visit to the nearby Assembly Rooms ( a ballroom, casino, and tea room). In the 1700's, the north side vaults were used as stables during the upper class visits. In the Victorian era, part of the gardens were used as a pet cemetery. Architect John Wood also designed luxury apartments along North Parade street bordering the area. They had their own private entrance into the gardens. Notables such as Admiral Lord Nelson, William Wilberforce, and William Wordsworth once lived in these apartments. There are several plaques and statues spread throughout , including one to King Bladud (who had discovered the baths), Mozart, and N.A. Trent's "Angel of Peace." The Parade Gardens (now privately owned and operated) are beautiful and definitely worth visiting.
Looking across the Avon River, into the gardens. Bath Abbey is in the background.
Architect John Wood's North Parade Road luxury apartments with their private entrance into the gardens.
There are several individual flower gardens throughout the grounds.
Standing in front of the commeneration to Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday.
King Bladud (ca. 500 BC),while working as a swine herder, discovered the hot spring baths here and supposedly founded the city of Bath. This statue of Bladud in the gardens commemorates his legend.
Remnants of the original Abbey walls that surrounded the gardens when it was an orchard tended by the monks.
Part of the Victorian era pet cemetery in the middle of the gardens.
N.A.Trent's "Angel of Peace" dedicated to the diplomacy efforts of Edward VII throughout Europe.
Mozart's works are frequently performed in many of Bath's venues, so it is only appropriate that there is a Mozart statue in the gardens.
Bath has developed a sister city relationship with Brunswick. This part of the gardens is dedicated to that relationship.
Summer visitors can enjoy a light repas at the Parade Gardens' Cafe.
Time for some afternoon tea?
Situated on 120 acres of land approximately two miles from Bath's city center, is the American Museum in Britain. Also known as Claverton manor, this museum has a commanding view of the hills around the University of Bath. The original house was constructed in 1340 and then rebuilt in 1758 by Ralph Allen. The museum was founded in 1961 by American Dallas Pratt and Britain John Judkyn and is touted as having "...the finest collection of American decorative arts (folk and historic) outside of the United States." In addition to focusing on the history of the United States between 1690 and 1860, the museum has recreated rooms from the early days of the manor. We caught the free shuttle bus from the city center out to the museum and spent a number of hours exploring this wonderful building and its surrounding grounds.
Claverton Manor is home to the American Museum in Britain...
...which overlooks the Avon River valley
This is NOT the free shuttle bus to the museum from Bath's city center.
The central staircase off of the main foyer.
This period room recreates what the kitchen of the early manor house would have looked like.
18th century parlor/ music room with furniture created by Duncan Phyfe.
Master bedroom with a trundle bed and cradle .
The main portion of the museum is dedicated to American history...including this late 19th century buckskin dress
Former slave, Nancy Burns (1800-1849) worked for Pierre Van Cortland and his family after gaining her freedom.
The kerchief she is wearing in the portrait has survived the years and is on display in the museum next to the painting.
Cyrus Dallin's "Appeal to the Great Spirit" ( circa 1900).
Frederic Remington's "The Cheyenne" in from of a late 19th century water color entitled "The Prospector" by an unknown artist.
One room in the museum is devoted to the art of American quilt making...
...many of which we found exquisite!
In a separate building on the grounds was a exhibit covering the history of toys in America.
While exploring the streets of Bath, we discovered another hidden gem; the Postal Museum. Founded in 1779 by Harold and Audrey Swindells in the cellar of their home, it was moved into Bath's main Post Office in 1985. The first recorded postal stamp - the Black Penny - was used here on May 2, 1840. Museum exhibits trace the history of post systems from 2000 BC up to the present day, including the ever changing design of the British Postal Boxes. One of the exhibits that we found fascinating was the priority given to the Royal Mail Coaches (of which there are several scale models) on British roads. Horns were used to signal the approach of the mail coaches, indicating which side of the road it was on. Everyone had to clear out of the way to let it through. The museum has even created a replica of a Victorian Post Office. Biographies of key figures in the evolution of Bath's postal system are spread throughout the museum. In addition, there are interactive exhibits for children. We absolutely love finding these little, out-of-the-way, exhibits that are not usually on the list of most tourists' attractions.
Just inside the entrance to Bath's main post office are stairs leading the to Postal Museum.
A replica of a Victorian era Post Office is one of the exhibits.
The sorting mail slots are still used today.
The design of British mail boxes is ever changing...
The first recorded Postal Stamp was the Black Penny, used here on May 2, 1840.
Scale model of a Royal Mail Coach, which, by convention, had priority on all British roads.
As the sign indicates, this is a postcard marking the first 100 mile airmail flight from Bath to London.
English author, Jane Austen, has strong ties to the city of Bath. In addition to having spent a significant portion of her life here, Bath is mentioned in every one of her works, plus, two of her six major novels about 18th century British upper class society are based in the city. Austen began her writing career (poems, stories, and plays) at the age of 12. While all of her major works were written between 1811 and 1818, not one of them was published under her own name during her lifetime. Her most highly acclaimed novel, "Pride and Prejudice" was published as "anonymous." An original Georgian townhouse on Gay street, just a few steps from one of the homes in which she actually lived, serves as the Jane Austen Center, dedicated to her time spent in Bath. We both remember some of Austen's novels being on our school reading lists growing up, so visiting this Center was a must for us. There are guided walking tours of the places in which Austen lived while in Bath, and of sites that were important to her novels.
The Jane Austen Center on Gay Street, Bath, England, is dedicated to the life and works of this famous English Author.
Even though we were not dressed in authentic 18th to 19th century attire, we were accepted into the Center.
The first floor (in the United States, the second floor) parlor was used by ladies of the house to read, write, and do sewing.
The ground floor parlor was used for less formal dining and sitting.
This portrait was drawn by Jane Austen's sister, Cassandra.
Austen's brother, Francis, depicted here as a Naval Captain, would eventually rise to the rank of Senior Admiral of the Navy, the highest position in the British Royal Navy.
This wax figure of Jane Austen, specially commissioned by the Center, was created by forensic artist Melissa Dring. It is considered to be the most accurate depiction of the famous English author.
Number 25 Gay street, just a few doors up from the Jane Austen Center, is one of the homes in which the Austen family lived while in Bath. Today, it is a dentist's office...
...but they still acknowledge the historical significance of the building.
Not far from the Jane Austen Center is St. Swithin's church where her parents were married...
....the original church was built on this site in 971 AD and dedicated to Swithin, Bishop of Winchester. The present structure was constructed in 1777, after the first one was damaged by storms. The foundations of that original Saxon church are beneath the floor of the crypt...
...Austen's father, the Reverand George Austen, is buried in the small cemetery next to St. Swithin's church. The engravings depicting his name have severely faded...
...but a modern plaque has been placed next to the tomb to acknowledge who is buried here.
While a little hard to find initially, the Bath at Work Museum was definitely worth the effort. Founded thirty eight years ago, this museum traces the commercial and industrial development of the city through two thousand years of history. The building that houses the museum was a former Real (read Royal) Tennis Court dating back to 1777. The center piece is a complete reconstruction of the engineering and mineral water factories of J.B.Bowler (founded in 1864), including its offices and workshops. And some of the machines still work! We thoroughly enjoyed seeing this museum, especially the 1914 Hortsman car, the earliest example in the world of a "kickstart" vehicle. The museum staff were very friendly and helpful, giving us tips about what to look for and making sure we did not miss anything (there are a lot of things to see here).
If if you would like further information about this museum, please go to www.bath-at-work.org.uk
Tucked away at the back of a church parking lot, is the Bath at Work Museum. In 1777, this building was a Royal Tennis Court.
The museum faithfully reconstructs the complete J.B.Bowler engineering factory.
Some of the machines still work and visitors are encouraged to turn them on.
Also recreated is the mineral water factory , also owned by Bowler...
...including this chemistry lab for creating the mineral water flavors.
Advertising posters for the Bowler Company.
Following the closing of the company in 1969, a trust fund was set up to save everything, including this mineral water factory office.
In a little street (originally called Lilliput Alley) around the corner from the Bath Abbey, is the oldest house in the city. Documents indicate that the first structure built here dates back to 1482. Two hundred years later, a Huguenot baker named Solange Luyon (later changed to Sally Lunn), escaping religious persecution in France, came to Bath and began working in a bakery on this street. Sally developed a recipe for an oversize bun that became such a hit that it was named after her - The Sally Lunn Bunn. The house in which Sally worked as a baker is now a restaurant and a small museum. Excavations in the cellar of the house have uncovered seven separate floor levels dating back to 1150. At one point, it is believed that an Inn stood on this site in which food was prepared for, and eaten by, travelers coming for the Roman Baths. Even parts of the foundation, floor, and walls of the medieval Bath Abbey complex have been uncovered in the cellar of the Sally Lunn House. The present building was constructed in 1622 and what was once the ground floor, became the cellar when the street level was raised during the 1700's. The three room museum in the cellar has free admission. One of the rooms depicts the kitchen area in which Sally created her legendary bun. Opposite that room is one that shows the seven separate floor levels of the building. The center room is used as a gift shop. Since our arrival in Bath, we had heard a lot about the Sally Lunn House, and decided that we had to visit the museum, as well as to eat dinner here. We were not disappointed. The food was excellent and the museum was informative.
For more information on this historic site, visit : www.sallylunns.co.uk
The oldest house in Bath, now a restaurant and museum, once may have been an Inn for travelers coming to the ancient Roman Baths.
The original kitchen area in which Sally Lunn worked as a baker and created her famous bun.
Just to the right of the Sally Lunn mannequin is a closed off room full of ancient stalactites and stalagmites.
This sign speaks for itself!
Excavations in the north part of the cellar uncovered seven floor levels.
These green colored stones are believed to be part of the original foundation for the Bath Abbey complex that extended out to where the Sally Lunn House now stands.
The ground floor dining room is called "The Coffee Room"
This is the second floor dining area...
...while this is the third floor dining area.
We enjoyed some soup with half a Sally Lunn Bun.
Dominating the city center is the Bath Abbey, officially known as the Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. This former Norman Cathedral, founded in 1090, was originally the site of a 7th century convent on lands granted to the monks of Saint Peter. In 973, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York crowned Edgar as "...the first effective King of England" in this church. Five hundred years later, the Norman Cathedral had fallen into disrepair. So, Bishop Oliver King had it demolished and replaced with the present Abbey. Remnants of that former Norman Cathedral (i.e. Pillar bases) can still be seen on the left side of the high altar. Today, nearly a half-million visitors per year explore this wonderful historical site. For us, seeing this Abbey met two of our primary travel goals; visiting the great churches of the world; and enjoying ancient history. This is a "Must See" if ever you come to Bath, England. While admission to the Abbey is "free", staff do ask for a donation (Two GBP) to help maintain the structure. It is entirely up to you to make the donation...or not.
www.bathabbey.org for further information.
Street level view of the front of the Abbey.
In this side view of the Abbey, the flying buttresses are quite evident.
One of my favorite features are these wonderfully carved wooden entrance doors.
Looking at this statue of Saint Peter, the head seems a bit off. That is because long ago it broke off and the Mason's repairing it took a short cut by not adding a neck.
On the other side of the main door, the statue of Saint Paul is more normal looking.
The "Great Window" at the east end of the Abbey, above the high altar depicts 56 scenes from the life of Christ.
Here is a closer view of some of the Great Window's panels.
On the north side of the central aisle is the tomb of James Montague, who was the Bishop of Bath and Wells (1608-1616).
There are many tomb plaques on the floor of the Abbey, including this one of W. Powell, et al, from the 1700's
This side chapel is dedicated to Saint Alphege (954-1012.), who served as Abbott in Bath, and later became the Archbishop of Canterbury
We loved the elegance of the wood carvings on the pews...
...as well as the beautifully sculptured ceiling.
As we close in on our second year of travel adventures, we came to Bath, England, "...known for its natural hot springs and 18th century Georgian architecture." After King Bladud discovered the hot springs in 836 BC, the Celts built the first shrine here, dedicated to the goddess Sulis. The Romans began construction of a temple and a bath complex (known as "Aquae Sulis" - "the waters of Sulis") in 60 AD. According to what we learned while visiting this site, rain water fell on the nearby Mendip Hills and worked its way down through the limestone aquifer (to an approximate depth of 14,000 feet) where it was heated by geothermal energy. Forced back up to the surface by pressure through fissures, it formed natural hot springs. During the 18th century, father and son architects, John Wood,the Elder and the Younger, constructed the current building over the baths. In 1987, the whole city of Bath, England was named a World Heritage Site. We've mentioned several times that we love history and this place is exactly the reason why.
The above ground entrance to the baths was designed by John Wood, the Elder and John Wood, the Younger.
This statue of King Bladud, recorded discoverer of the natural hot springs, overlooks the baths.
View of the King's bath from the upper terrace, with the Bath Abbey in the background.
The statues adorning the upper terrace depict the Roman Governors of the Province of Britannia.
Gorgon's head from the temple pediment.
The complex has several bathing areas. This is the Circular Bath.
These pillars once supported the floor of the Hot Bath.
After soaking for awhile in the hot bath, Romans would then enter the cold bath to close the pores of their skin.
The baths were fed by natural hot springs emanating from the limestone aquifer.
Remnants of the Hippocamp mosaic tiled floor.
Adorning one of the side walls of the Roman Baths is this plaque designating the city of Bath as a World Heritage site...
...along with the World Heritage symbol in the street.
Carl and Lorraine Aveni are two retirees planning on traveling through Europe for at least one year.