PORTLAND AND BATH, ENGLAND


The Isle of Portland is a central part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site on the Dorset and east Devon coast. Not only is it known for its quarries producing Portland Stone, used in architecture world wide, it is also one of the largest man-made harbours in the world. From its inception it was a Royal Navy base, and played prominent roles during both World Wars, and ships of the Royal Navy and NATO countries exercised in its waters until 1995. The harbour is now a civilian port and popular recreation area, which was used during the 2012 Olympic Games.

We didn't do an actual tour of Portland, but opted instead to take a tour of Bath, England. Bath is a city in the county of Somerset, in south-west England. The city became a World Heritage Site in 1987 and is primarily known for the Roman Baths, a spa built in 60 AD to take advantage of the local 'hot springs'. In the 17th century, claims were made for the curative properties of water from the springs, and Bath became popular as a spa town. During WWII, between the evening of 25 April and the early morning of 27 April 1942, Bath suffered three air raids in reprisal for RAF raids on the German cities of Lubeck and Rostock, part of the Luftwaffe campaign popularly known as the Baedeker Blitz. During the Bath Blitz, more than 400 people were killed, and more than 19,000 buildings damaged or destroyed.
Since then most of the buildings have all been restored although there are still signs of the bombing. Today, one of Bath's principal industries is tourism, with annually more than one million staying visitors and 3.8 million day visitors.

Before we could go anywhere however, we had to pass through British customs. Why that was necessary when we came straight from another European Union country I have no idea. They sent three officials to process almost 3,000 passengers and crew. The line wound through the corridors and halfway around the outside deck. It took 2 hours and several people, including Izak, caught colds from standing outside in the wind for so long. Initially it looked like all the longer tours, like ours, would have to be cuts short since we were so late leaving, but the captain got permission from the cruise line to stay in port as long as necessary, even though it cost the line more money to do so.



The English coast, on our way to Portland.


Our first view of Portland.


One of the breakwaters built between 1848 and 1905 to form the harbour.
 

Pleasure boats and the town.


The Roman Baths.

The baths themselves are below the modern street level. There are four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple (dedicated to Minerva,
goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, weaving, crafts and magic), the Roman Bath House and the Museum holding finds from Roman Bath. The buildings above street level date from the 19th century.
We couldn't go in right away, as the tour guide had to purchase our tickets, and as you can see there was a bit of a line up, so I decided to take some pictures of the surrounding area.
 

Bath Abbey

More formally known as Abbey Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul,
is an Anglican parish church and a former Benedictine monastery. Founded in the 7th century, Bath Abbey was reorganized in the 10th century, rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries, with major restoration work in the 1860s. It is one of the largest examples of Perpendicular Gothic architecture in the West Country.


Mega tourists between the Roman Baths and Bath Cathedral.

 

Down a side street from the Baths - more tourists.



Fortunately, we had a street musician to entertain us while we waited.


 
Dina and I outside the Roman Baths.


The entrance, which we finally got to go through.



The entrance hall, while not Roman, was a beautiful example of 19th century architecture
.


The Roman Baths were not discovered and explored until the late nineteenth century. The view from the Terrace is the first view you have as a visitor to the baths, but what you can see from here is less than a quarter of the site as a whole.
The Terrace is actually at street level, and it looks down on the "Great Bath". If you look at the pillars, you can see where repairs were done to the original structure.



The statues on the terrace date to 1894, as they were carved in advance of the grand opening of the Roman Baths in 1897. They are depiction's of various Roman Emperors and Governors of Great Britain during the Roman occupation.




The statues on the Terrace are particularly susceptible to the effect of acid rain, as you can see here, and are being protected with a wash of a sacrificial shelter coat every few years.


The water that flows through the Roman Baths is considered unsafe for bathing, partly due to its having passed through the still functioning original lead pipes


Another view of the statues.


Dina listening to her "personal audio guide" which is given to each visitor on entering the baths.


The museum contains models of the temple and bath complex. At the time the baths were built, the town was known as Aquae Sulis.
The first shrine at the site of the hot springs was built by the Celts and was dedicated to the goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva.


This stone head of a lady, dating from the late 1st century AD, is from a tomb. Apparently 'mohawk' hairstyles were very fashionable at the time.


A display of carvings found in the baths and temple.


A facade with carvings of the four seasons was surmounted by a decorated pediment containing an image of the goddess Luna, aka Diana, goddess of the Moon, animals, and hunting.


The sparkles you see on this rock is part of the Spring overflow which carries surplus water from the hot spring to the original Roman drain, and on to the River Avon four hundred metres away. The Roman plumbing and drainage system is still largely in place today and shows the ingenuity of the Roman engineers. Lead pipes were used to carry hot spa water around the site using gravity flow.


What's left of a stone table, possibly an alter.


The gilt bronze head of the goddess Sulis Minerva is one of the best known objects from Roman Britain. Gilt bronze sculptures are rare finds from Roman Britain as only two other fragments are known. The head is probably from the cult statue of the deity which would have stood within the Temple beside the Sacred Spring, and may well date from the first century AD.


The Great Bath is a massive pool, lined with 45 sheets of lead, and filled with hot spa water. It once stood in an enormous barrel-vaulted hall that rose to a height of 40 metres. The bath is 1.6 metres deep, which was ideal for bathing, and it has steps leading down on all sides. Niches around the baths would have held benches for bathers and possibly small tables for drinks or snacks. A large flat slab of stone is set across the point where hot water flows into the bath. It is known today as the diving stone.


Back outside.



Bath Abbey from a different angle


A couple headed down one of the side streets near the Abbey.


While we were waiting for our bus to come back, I decided to take a few pictures of the surrounding area.
A view of the local park from the bridge.


What looks to be a very 'grand' hotel.
The restaurant on the ground floor is called "Garfunkel's".





The gazebo in the park.


Houseboats docked along the Avon River.


   

Part of the Royal Crescent, a row of 30 terraced houses laid out in a sweeping crescent.
Many notable people have either lived or stayed in the Royal Crescent since it was first built over 230 years ago, and some are commemorated on special plaques attached to the relevant buildings.
 

A side view of the Crescent.


The Crescent gardens.






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