Day 2. Exploring Bath

After sleeping soundly in our lovely room at the Hotel Indigo Bath we popped downstairs to start the day by tucking into a delicious buffet breakfast in the attractive Elder restaurant.

Breakfast buffet at Hotel Indigo Bath
Breakfast buffet at Hotel Indigo Bath

Ready to go after a couple of cappuccinos we ventured south east of the town to visit the American Museum and Gardens (standard adult admission £14.50, gardens only £9.00).  The museum has ample free parking and is located two miles from the city centre, close to the main campus of the University of Bath.  Visitors using public transport can take either Bus U1 or U2 to the university from where it is approximately a 15 minute walk to the museum.

American Museum and Gardens, Bath
American Museum and Gardens

This is the only museum of Americans outside of the United States and was founded to bring U.S. history and culture to Britain in order to demonstrate the achievements of Americans in the decorative arts.  As the founders owned a summerhouse in the Bath area they decided to purchase Claverton Manor when it came on the market in 1958 and to transform it into a museum which was then opened three years later.

One of the period rooms at the American Museum, Bath
One of the period rooms at the American Museum

Most tours of the house are self-guided with volunteers on hand to answer questions in many of the rooms.  However, on the Saturday morning of our visit one hour guided tours were taking place so we joined the 11.00 a.m. one led by an American lady who was very informative and kept our group of all ages entertained throughout.

Period room, American Museum, Bath
Another of the period rooms in the museum

We toured a series of 18 period rooms designed to document the development of American Decorative Arts from 1680 to the 1860’s.  The rooms contain folk and Native American art, an extensive collection of more than 200 quilts which one member of our tour group had travelled a considerable distance especially to see, furniture and old maps.

American Heritage Exhibition, American Museum, Bath
The American Heritage Exhibition in the museum

In addition to the period room settings we viewed the American heritage exhibition in the basement which recounts the story of the founding fathers, the history of native Americans and of the American Civil War.

Gardens of the American Museum, Bath
Gardens of the American Museum

Outdoors, the extensive grounds which extend to 120 acres of which 40 acres are open to the public feature gardens containing a collection of North American trees and shrubs.  Of interest also is a recreation of the garden at Mount Vernon, the Virginia home of George Washington.  On site also is an attractive cafe and a dinosaur exhibition which is popular with young families.  I really enjoyed our visit there and would recommend adding the American Museum and Gardens to your Bath itineraries.

American Museum, Bath
Herbaceous borders at the American Museum

We then returned into Bath so that we could visit The Holburne Museum just a ten minute walk from the city centre.  Some readers might recognise this building as several scenes from the Netflix drama Bridgerton were filmed there as it was portrayed as the exterior of Lady Danbury’s townhouse.

The Holburne Museum, Bath
The Holburne Museum

Although the period drama is set in Regency-era London, numerous locations in Bath were used as the city has conserved its historic appearance and been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status for its history and architecture.

Holburne Museum, Bath
One of the galleries inside the Holburne

The museum was originally built as the Sydney Hotel and has since been a private house.  It is now home to an art gallery of fine and decorative arts built around the collection of Sir William Holburne (Standard admission £11).  We viewed the permanent exhibitions, one of which was a Dutch gallery displaying some masterpieces from the Golden Age.  Also of interest was a temporary exhibition featuring pencil drawings by David Hockney but as photography was not permitted I am unable to showcase this gallery.

We then left the Holburne by its rear exit which leads out into Sydney Gardens, formerly the pleasure gardens of the Sydney Hotel.  Strolling through the gardens was very pleasant and I can imagine how popular it must have been in Regency times to take an afternoon promenade there.  The park contains ornamental temples and leads to bridges over the canal and railway line.

Bath Locks
Bath Locks

From the gardens we followed the main path and just after the railway we went through a wrought iron gate onto the towpath of the Kennet and Avon canal.  We then followed the canal to its junction with the River Avon so that we could take a look at Bath Locks.  This series of six locks raise and lower boats 65 feet between the Kennet and Avon canal and the River Avon with one of them being the second deepest in the country.

Bath Locks, Kennet and Avon Canal
We spotted these ducklings along the towpath

It was lovely to stroll along this stretch of canal and being so close to Pulteney Bridge and the station, it is easily accessible.  We crossed the iron Halfpenny Bridge which was erected in 1878 to replace an earlier wooden bridge that collapsed when too many people tried to cross it at the same time.  The bridge takes its name from its original toll fee of half a penny.

Deep Lock, Bath
Deep Lock in the centre of Bath

Our final destination of the day was to Bath Abbey which is free to visit with donations towards its upkeep being welcome.  The Abbey has exquisite stained glass windows and a splendid fan vaulted ceiling.  Music filled the air as a choir practice was taking place for the Evensong service that was due to begin shortly.

Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey

We had arranged to take the final Tower Tour of the day at 5.00 p.m. (£10 for a one hour tour).  There are 212 steps to the top of the abbey tower but these are broken down into manageable chunks with a pause part way up to look in the bell ringing room and to hear a short history of the abbey’s bells.

Bell Ringing Room, Bath Abbey
The Bell Ringing Room

Leaving there, we were taken into a tiny room hardly bigger than a cupboard, where we actually sat behind the clock face for a few minutes and learnt about its workings.  After climbing a few more steps we then inspected the bells themselves and watched as one of them struck the half hour.

Behind Bath Abbey tower clock
The back of the Abbey tower clock

On reaching the Abbey roof we had splendid views over the city and then had ten minutes to admire the views and take some photos.  I always enjoy behind the scenes church tours as they are so interesting and an opportunity to discover how these wonderful buildings were constructed and of course to admire the views.

View from the top of the tower at Bath Abbey
View from the top of Bath Abbey tower

At the end of the tour we collected our bags from a locked room as it was preferable to leave them there safe and secure rather than carry them up and down all the winding stairs.

Starting my descent down Bath Abbey tower steps
Starting my descent down Bath Abbey tower steps

After all this exertion we returned to the lovely Hotel Indigo Bath for a rest and to enjoy a soak in our roll top bath.

Hotel bathroom at the Hotel Indigo Bath
Our lovely bathroom at the Hotel Indigo Bath

 

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70 thoughts on “Day 2. Exploring Bath

  1. The last time I visited Bath was when my youngest son was considering going to university there. I was very excited at this possibility but purely for selfish reasons, if I’m honest! Of course, he opted for Manchester in the end. However, your post reminded me why I love Bath so much. I also loved Bridgerton and I think you know how I feel about canals!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anonymous

    Enjoyed your Bath tour very much. Was there years ago and always meaning to return. Currently watching McDonald and Dobbs, a Midsommeresque detective romp which is set in Bath.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. How interesting to find the only American museum there in Bath! It sounds like it covered quite a volume of history in one place. I would really love to visit there and see the American decorative arts and learn about it from a different perspective.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’m such a fan of church tours and usually sign up for them as well. It’s a great way to learn more about the history of the church and of the city, plus the views from the top of the bell tower are typically stunning. I got dizzy just looking at the spiral staircase though!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Climbing Bath Abbey steps after a day of walking around was still worth the effort to see how the church was constructed and of course for the views. It was good that there was a safe place to leave our bags and we didn’t have to take them with us. Thanks for commenting Linda and hope your week goes well.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Feeling really nostalgic. Great post about Bath . I once walked over the Halfpenny Bridge to get to school , St John’s near Parade Gardens . Lived on Widecombe Hill , and my grandmother was an Alderman and then Mayor of Bath in the seventies. Such a beautiful city .

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Bath has been on my bucket list for the longest time, even since I was still living abroad. Unfortunately, I never got around to visiting it, but from your photos of your time spent there, I’m dying to go sooner than later! One of these days, I’ll have to go…thanks for sharing your adventures with us!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. We were also surprised to discover an American museum in Bath but delighted as it was a joy to look around. Bath is a gorgeous city and even after walking around all day I wouldn’t have missed climbing to the top of the abbey tower for the stunning views and to explore the hidden parts of the church. Thanks so much for commenting Corna, it’s much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your interest in this post on Bath. It was good of you to investigate whether there were any British museums in the US as it could have been a possibility. It was a lovely day out and definitely worth the effort to climb the abbey steps!

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks for taking us to Bath Marion. We have often through of travelling there, but not yet made it. Love the tour to the top of the church tower. We try to take those in whatever city we are in. It gives such a unique view of the city. Interesting facts on the American Museum and Gardens. I think that originally it might have been a way for the Yanks to brag….”See what we can do on our own!” Interesting note on the Bridgerton connection. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Bath is a gorgeous city Allan and perhaps you will get an opportunity to visit when you feel ready to visit the UK once again. It was surprising to discover an American Museum there and I’m so pleased we visited it as it was very well presented. Thank you for taking the time to comment. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great post! I had no idea the American Museum existed in Bath. Happy to hear about that! I admire your fortitude in climbing up the Abbey tower. I avoid narrow, winding stone steps because of a bit of claustrophobia but would love to see the bell ringing room.

    Liked by 4 people

  9. ThingsHelenLoves

    Very interested in this one Marion, as I’ve just booked tickets to visit the American Museum in December for ‘ Christmas at Claverton’ and the illuminations. I’m hoping for a dose of Christmas in Georgian x New England style and it looks like I won’t be disappointed!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The American Museum is beautiful Helen and an unexpected gem close to the centre of Bath. Christmas at Claverton sounds idyllic and I’ll look forward to reading about how you got on! Enjoy the remainder of the Bank Holiday weekend.

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  10. Bath is another city I am yet to visit and it looks absolutely lovely. Both museums are very interesting, but I find the American Museum the most fascinating. They are set in wonderful houses that are a joy to explore, I imagine, plus the grounds which give off a peaceful vibe. The abbey is gorgeous, the views from the tower stunning. I am with you on visiting the church towers as a way of glimpsing behind the scenes. A bath in Bath is always a good idea. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Bath is a beautiful city Leighton and we enjoyed a wonderful day. The American Museum is a hidden gem and not something you would expect to find there. The Holburne was of interest too and even though we had been on our feet all day, it was worth the effort to climb the abbey steps to view the parts normally hidden from view. Thanks for taking the time to comment. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Such a busy and interesting day Marion. I think you must have been more than ready to relax in your hotel room. We really only skimmed the surface when we visited earlier this year. But I loved Bath and all its glorious buildings. Did you watch Bridgeton? I didn’t enjoy the second series as much.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. We very much enjoyed our day exploring Bath Alison. After climbing the Abbey tower steps at the end of the day I was more than ready to relax back in the hotel but it had all been worth the effort. No, I haven’t actually seen Bridgerton as being away so much we don’t subscribe to Netflix.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. That’s very true Alison but due to my Lancashire upbringing I’m an avid viewer of Coronation Street but am quite a number of episodes behind at the moment! That is the only soap I’m interested in though apart from The Archers (BBC radio podcasts). I did watch the final episode of Neighbours as there was so much hype about it but it was quite meaningless to me as I only watched it for two or three years when my sons were small (I.e. around 28 years ago)!

          Liked by 1 person

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