On the advice of family members, I took the free city tour. The tour started at 2pm outside the Roman Baths. There were two friendly old gentlemen who split the group up into 2 so that it wasn’t too large. The tour started at 2 and so did the rain!
Despite the soggy state of affairs, I really enjoyed the tour. We went around, had a look at the outside of the Abbey and were shown that it was once much bigger in earlier times with the floorplan going much further out towards the river. We were also encouraged to try and spot the diagonal lines on the side of the building where there were once shops leaning up against the church. We also had a look at one of the bigger squares. Our guide was full of information about architectural details and history. He even pointed out what he called “the hanging loos of Bath” which are the modern answer to old building not having been designed with bathrooms- these loos are tacked onto the sides of the stone buildings and seem to float quite precariously there. We also saw the Circus and the Royal Crescent. Unfortunately, I did not take too many photos because it was raining quite a bit. The tour lasted a full 2 hours, letting me get well and truly wet.
And at seven o’clock P.m. Mr. Pickwick and his friends, and Mr. Dowler and his wife, respectively retired to their private sitting-rooms at the White Hart Hotel, opposite the Great Pump Room, Bath, where the waiters, from their costume, might be mistaken for Westminster boys, only they destroy the illusion by behaving themselves much better.
Right at the end of my visit, I had tea at the Pump Room at the Roman Baths. It has long been a dream of mine to visit the place that is mentioned so often in Jane Austens novels (particularly Northanger Abbey & Persuasion). Whilst I had no travelling companion, with me, I did have my whole library, in the form of my Kindle. So I spent my time with Jane Austen and Charles Dickens eating scones and drinking the Pump Room Blend of tea. Dicckens description of the waiters looking like choir boys was quite interesting because I had been to Westminster Abbey on the previous Sunday for a service and seen the little boys in their red outfits with hight collars. My 21st century musings lead me to the conclusion that they seemed to be much better behaved that the waiting staff at the Pump Room. Dickens would probably have been quite disturbed with all the noise and chatter. Well, as it is not the nineteenth century any more and I was still wet from my 2 hour guided tour around the town, I was probably just a little grumpy and a bit harsh on the waiters.
The pump room still has its old fountain that was used by visitors to drink the healing waters. According to their website:
Spa water has been used for curative purposes for two thousand years. Originally treatments involved bathing in the hot waters, then in the late 17th Century drinking spa water also came to be a recognised treatment for certain conditions.
Today we use the hot spa water to heat the Roman Baths and Pump Room site in winter.
I was not so brave as to taste the water as it has had very bad reviews from other friends and family who have visited the spot.