I can still remember how stressed I was if we could apply for both Schengen and UK visas in time for this trip. Since we were travelling to Prague, we decided to visit friends and relatives in UK as well. But given the narrow window I had to plan, I wouldn’t repeat that cramming again. Thankfully, there were no hitches despite the tedious documentation and processes required by both consulates then. I even got a 4-year Multiple Entry Schengen Visa for my diligence :))
We had an open invitation to visit my Aunt in Bath. It was the perfect opportunity to get together with my relatives whom, I have not seen in a while. Considering the distance from London (2.44 hours by car), I thought of joining a tour along the way. I decided to sign us up on the https://www.viator.com/tours/London/Stonehenge-Windsor-Castle-and-Bath-Day-Trip-from-London/d737-3858EE021 . If all went well, we were to be left in Bath to stay with my aunt for the weekend. But just when you pray all goes well, sometimes there is Traffic to re-route your course. Thankfully, our guide was considerate enough to ensure we saw all before leaving us in Bath.
Built high above the River Thames, Windsor Castle has been home to the Royal Family for 900 years and is still an Official Residence of the Queen.
Fourteenth-century St. George’s Chapel. One of the most beautiful examples of medieval church architecture in England and a burial place of kings and queens, including Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour.
We visited the magnificent State Apartments, still used for State occasions and Royal receptions. We also took time to venture the castle grounds.
We met the bus in one of their Hotel landmarks then headed west of the city. Our first stop was Windsor Castle. The longest-occupied palace in the world, Windsor Castle has been home to the British royal family for nearly 1,000 years. Our guide led us around the lavish State Apartments until we made our way to the famed St George’s Chapel.
Clouded in mystery, the ancient stone circles of Stonehenge is an amazing feat of engineering and the most prehistoric site in England.
We were admiring the rolling Wiltshire countryside on the way to Stonehenge. It was an awestruck sight located on a plain near Salisbury – A mystical formation of ancient stones, its origin, spiritual significance – of interesting discussion to many scholars. Thought to date back 5,000 years, Stonehenge is a puzzle that may never be solved.
There is nowhere else quite like Bath Abbey. Magnificent stained glass windows, columns of honey-gold stone and some of the finest fan vaulting in the world, create an extraordinary experience of light and space. But there is more to it than that. There has been a place of Christian worship on this site for over 1,200 years and the Abbey remains very much a living church today with services taking place throughout the entire week.
Since 757 AD, three different churches have occupied the site of today’s Abbey: first, there was an Anglo-Saxon Abbey Church, pulled down by the Norman conquerors of England soon after 1066. Then, a massive Norman cathedral was begun about 1090 but was larger than the monastery could afford to maintain and by the end of the 15th century was in ruins. Finally, the present Abbey church was founded in 1499, the last of the great medieval churches of England.
Pulteney Bridge, together with the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, is one of the world’s most beautiful bridges. Like the Ponte Vecchio it is one of a handful of historic bridges in the world with shops built into it. Built for William Pulteney by Robert Adam, the bridge was an attempt to connect central Bath to land on the other bank of the River Avon and make Pulteney’s fortune. In spite of its practical origins it is surely the most romantic bridge in the world, best viewed from Parade Gardens park by the crescent weir.
Bath was founded upon natural hot springs with the steaming water playing a key role throughout its history. Lying in the heart of the city the Roman Baths were constructed around 70 AD as a grand bathing and socialising complex. It is now one of the best preserved Roman remains in the world. 1,170,000 litres of steaming spring water reaching 46 °C still fill the bathing site every single day. The Romans believed that this was the mystical work of the Gods but we now know that the water source, which comes from the King’s Spring, fell as rain water around 10,000 BC.
We visited the Great Bath, the magnificent epicentre of the complex and walked on the ancient pavements as the Romans did 2,000 years ago. The Great Bath that lies below street level can also be viewed from the Terrace, which is adorned with statues and shadowed by the great Abbey. Other chambers explored include the remains of the ancient heated rooms and changing rooms as well as tepid and plunge pools.
What a blessing that our day went as planned. Traffic eventually opened up to our last stop of the day, the fabled town of Bath. We continued on the panoramic tour of the city to admire its stately architecture and charming narrow streets. Then we visited the Bath Abbey and the Pulteney Bridge, which was inspired by Florence’s Ponte Vecchio. We also made time to wander around, the city’s claim to fame, the Roman baths, one of Europe’s best-preserved Roman spa sites.
Read more about Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and Bath Day Trip from London – London | Viator at: https://www.viator.com/tours/London/Stonehenge-Windsor-Castle-and-Bath-Day-Trip-from-London/d737-3858EE021?pub=vcps
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”.
Charles Dickens, one of the greatest authors of Victorian Britain, was a regular visitor to Bath and often stayed in number 35 St James’ Square. This house features a plaque stating Charles Dickens as a regular resident. Bath is featured in some of Dickens’ books, namely The Pickwick Papers. Charles Dickens would also do public readings in the Assembly Rooms, which is now a fashion museum.
Jamie’s Italian is set in a gorgeous Georgian conversion in Milsom Place. Right in the heart of Bath, this beautiful restaurant is a great spot for midweek lunches, weekend dinners and everything in between. It also has a chic rooftop terrace, an ideal spot for al fresco dining on a sunny day.
The Royal Crescent, one of Bath’s most iconic landmarks, was built between 1767 and 1775 and designed by John Wood the Younger. This impressive landmark forms a sweeping crescent of 30 Grade I Listed terrace houses, and is without doubt one of the greatest examples of Georgian architecture anywhere in the UK. Today, it is home to the five-star luxury hotel The Royal Crescent (the perfect place for a spa weekend to remember), a museum of Georgian life at No. 1, plus private housing.
Staying a weekend in Bath was definitely a great idea. My Aunt and Uncle were the perfect hosts. Their place, one in a row of Georgian Heritage Houses near the Royal Crescent was gorgeous! We slept so soundly in their cozy guest room and ate too well with all the food they spoiled us with. I am still relishing those refreshing morning walks, as we ventured around town sans the tourists. Their regular errands were social calls with old friends tending to their quaint stores. The air was calm and peaceful – truly a serene retirement choice they’ve made for themselves then.
Scenic View of Bath from Alexandra Park
Home of the Thynne family for more than 450 years. Their ancestor was simply a butler / barber of the royal family who amassed his wealth by accepting big dowries from his wives. Lucky man!!
Longleat is an English stately home and the seat of the Marquesses of Bath. It is a leading and early example of the Elizabethan prodigy house. It is adjacent to the village of Horningsham and near the towns of Warminster and Westbury in Wiltshire and Frome in Somerset. It is noted for its Elizabethan country house, maze, landscaped parkland and safari park.
Southstoke is a designated Conservation Area – a small village in Bath run by its parish council. The buildings are mainly cream oolitic limestone and there are 27 listed structures in and around the immediate village which has retained much of its original character and historic appeal.
They were so sweet to take us around the outskirts of town. We felt so privileged to see these places, as tourists normally rush back to the City.
On our way to the town’s pub, we passed by this Eerie cemetery.
The church is dedicated to St James. It dates from the 12th century, was altered in the 15th, and further restored with the chancel and south aisle being rebuilt between 1845 and 1850.
Landscape views of rolling hils leading to Bath.
Our last evening was spent dining with locals at The Pack Horse Pub at South Stoke. The pub dates from 1498, when it was rebuilt on the site of an earlier guesthouse or hostelry built by monks to provide shelter with food and drink for travellers and pilgrims. It remains a local favourite among locals.
On our way back to London, we took a side trip to Oxford. A wonderful place to wander: Oxford is one of the world’s most famous university cities famed for its dreamy spires. It is a privileged place steeped in history. Honey-toned buildings of the university’s colleges are scattered throughout the city, wrap around tranquil courtyards along cobbled streets. We couldn’t help but feel a bit of envy as we watched the students go about their usual days. How inspiring it must be to live in this prestigious city while enjoying the energetic, youthful vibe.
Trinity College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. The college was founded in 1555 by Sir Thomas Pope, on land previously occupied by Durham College, home to Benedictine monks from Durham Cathedral.
Hertford Bridge, popularly known as the Bridge of Sighs, is a skyway joining two parts of Hertford College over New College Lane
Brasenose College. Just a few steps from the original Alice in Wonderland Store. Alice, from Alice in Wonderland, was a real girl named Alice Liddell. She was the daughter of the Dean at Christ Church, who was a friend of Charles Dodgson (A.K.A. Lewis Carroll), who taught at the College. Dodgson spent much time with Alice and her family, and immortalized her in his books.
The Bodleian Library, the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. With over 12 million items, it is the second largest library in Britain after the British Library. Under the Legal Deposit Libraries Act 2003 it is one of six legal deposit libraries for works published in the United Kingdom and under Irish Law it is entitled to request a copy of each book published in the Republic of Ireland. Known to Oxford scholars as “Bodley” or “the Bod”, it operates principally as a reference library and, in general, documents may not be removed from the reading rooms.
A number of movies used the Bodleian Library as a setting. Recently noted were: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) & Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005): Duke Humfrey’s Library was used as the Hogwarts library and the Divinity School as the infirmary.