One place that is always a joy to visit is beautiful Bath, which is an UNESCO Heritage site.
The trip from our station gets you to Romsey in just over 5 minutes and from there the Romsey to Bath journey takes about an hour and twenty minutes.
I do love the fact it is so easy to get out and about from here and the range of destinations it is possible to get to and back from in a day from Chandler’s Ford Railway Station is huge.
All pictures for this post were taken by me.
The Romsey to Bath route goes through some fantastic countryside, especially around Bradford-upon-Avon. I had family in Melksham and Trowbridge (and still have family in the overall area) and visited regularly and the scenery here brings back good memories.
On a good day weatherwise, there is an excellent view of the Westbury White Horse, which was one of the landmarks telling us we were almost at our destination for another weekend with the family. Another one was the old Blue Circle Cement Works with its famous chimney at Westbury which has recently been detonated.
The Roman Baths
Bath has existed for centuries and is renowned for combining Roman and Georgian architecture but I cherish it for having links with one of my favourite authors. Jane Austen lived here before eventually moving to Chawton and from there to Winchester when illness sadly claimed her life far too early.
When visiting Bath I usually go to the Roman Baths and, if time allows, I then enjoy either a cruise on the canal or a visit to Bath Abbey. For this post, I’ll focus on the Roman Baths.
The Roman Baths are always busy, regardless of what time of year you go, but I like the way they organise the queues. They always have several pay desks open (would the banks and Post Office kindly take note this is not a new idea but it is a good one!) and a sensible way of queuing that means people can’t jump in. The queue also moves fairly quickly.
I also think the reception area is the most beautiful place I have ever had to queue in!
The Baths have an audio guide system so you can give yourself your own conducted tour but it is not crucial to the enjoyment of the visit to use these, though inevitably they do give more information. There is also the official guided tour but I must admit I love wandering around the Baths at my own pace. Any first time visitor should be aware the walk around the Baths is on very uneven ground (inevitably given it is an archaeological site) so you do have to watch your step.
Around the Baths are various displays with models reconstructing what the temples would have looked like (to name one example). There are various clips (played on a loop) showing what life would have been like in Roman times. And there are some of the Romans themselves talking about their lives, though spoilsports might suggest these were actors. I do know the Roman soldiers tend to go down very well with younger visitors!
At certain times of year there are behind the scenes looks at how the Baths are cared for though I must admit I have not yet had a chance to go on one of those.
The baths are incredible to look at and when you think of how advanced the Romans were in using a natural feature to their own advantage, the Baths are even more fantastic. Bath was known as Aquae Sulis (the waters of Sul) by the Romans. Statues of emperors look down on the baths and the waters themselves are a lovely shade of green. As you get nearer to them you can feel the heat coming off them.
The baths were a general meeting place for Roman society. Literally the society that stayed together bathed together! The Baths also show clips on the walls of what life would have been like in general terms. One of them shows a slave helping her mistress get ready to go out (quite possibly to the Baths themselves).
The finds in Bath include pottery, coins, jewellery, and hair combs. The mosaic floor segment is wonderfully artistic and what they have here is in remarkably good condition. (There is also fantastic decorated medieval flooring at Winchester Cathedral. It is amazing how much of this has survived here and at Bath, both are well worth a visit in their own right. The beauty of them is still stunning and the depth of colour is amazing given their age).
PLEADING FOR JUSTICE THE ROMAN WAY
One thing is crystal clear though – the Romans were not “big” on forgiveness. A range of curses for thieves has survived – see the pictures below.
The victims didn’t just want their property back in many cases, they wanted bloodthirsty revenge on those who stole it in the first place!
The displays give a wonderful glimpse into what Roman society was like.
WHAT WE SHOULD HAVE LEARNED FROM THE ROMANS A LOT EARLIER THAN WE DID
After the Romans left Britain the country fell into what is known as the “dark ages”. Given how advanced the Romans were in terms of engineering, this I feel is understandable.
It says something that where you can see them using the Baths and having a basic system of drainage, it took us to Victorian times and the brilliant Sir Joseph Bazelgette to have a proper sewer system.
Yet all those centuries previously, the Romans had laid down the basics for us. It is beyond me why someone didn’t take that basic idea and run with it a lot sooner. But then history is full of stories of missed opportunities and this is a classic example of that.
The image of the Baths look as if they have cloudy bits on the photos. That really is steam and gives some idea of the heat coming from the water.
There is also a great pulley display where you can have a go at lifting blocks and see how the Romans did this. They were great engineers after all and the pulley system is simple but effective. And still is and always will be.
Bath is a great place to visit, as I hope my pictures show. The Roman Baths give a real insight as to how life was once lived in our country. And the train journey back gives a great chance to sit back, relax and enjoy some wonderful countryside in our own and neighbouring counties.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
Never miss out on another blog post. Subscribe here:
Subscribe to Blog via Email