Abbey’s history dates back to the year 757, where documents mention a monastery of St Peter in Bath.
In the year 1090 Bishop John de Villula transferred his seat from Wells
to Bath and demolishes its Saxon Abbey. A Norman Cathedral replaced
this; which doubled as a church to the original monastery.
In 1244 Bath and Wells share cathedral status and Roger of Salisbury
becomes the joint Bishop of Bath and Wells.
In 1499 the newly appointed Bishop, Oliver King, begins to plan the new
King Henry VIII dissolves the old monastery in 1539 as part of the
dissolution of the monasteries.
It was not until Queen Elizabeth I promoted the restoration of the
ruined abbey in 1574 that we can appreciate the skilled craftsmanship
and beauty of this magnificent building.
The abbey was completed in 1611 and its function as a parish church
The southwest elevation of the abbey depicted in Matthew's painting
shows the improvements to the abbey suggested originally by Bishop Law
George Manners continued the improvements by adding the flying
buttresses and buttress pinnacles, giving the architecture a more
harmonising appearance and balance.
The abbey church measures 220 feet in length and 72 feet in width, the
height of the knave is 79 feet and the central tower rises to 161 feet.
Bath abbey is the most popular parish church in the country, owing to
its magnificent gothic styled interiors, splendid stained glass windows,
(which occupy 80% of the buildings wall space) and its charming chapels
including the very impressive Chantry Chapel of Prior William Birde.
Its ever-increasing popularity is sustained by the upkeep of this
beautiful building and the recent exterior wall cleaning reflects the
overall ambience of Bath's largest church.
(c) Matthew Grayson 2003