- Bath Abbey
name=St. Peter's Abbey, Bath
caption=The West front.
Church of England
parish=Bath, St Peter
diocese=Bath and Wells
rector=Revd Preb Edward Mason
vicar=Revd Debbie Dewes (Precentor)
vicar1=Revd Dr Alan Garrow (Theologian)
organistdom= [http://www.peterking.org Dr. Peter King]
website= [http://www.bathabbey.org/ www.bathabbey.org] Anglican Portal
The Abbey Church of Saint Peter, Bath, commonly known as Bath Abbey, is an
Anglican parish churchand a former Benedictine monasteryin Bath, Somerset, England. Founded in the 7th century, reorganised in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 12th and 16th centuries, it is one of the largest examples of Perpendicular Gothic architecturein the West Country.
The church is
cruciformin plan, seating approximately 1,200 people. It is used for religious services, secular civic ceremonies and lectures. [cite web |url=http://www.bathabbey.org/ |title=Bath Abbey |accessdate=2007-09-27 |work=Bath Abbey ] The abbey is a grade I listed buildingcite web | title=Bath Abbey | work=Images of England|url=http://www.imagesofengland.org.uk/search/details.aspx?id=442109 | accessdate=2007-09-25] and is an active place of worship, with hundreds of congregation members and hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
The building contains monuments to several notable people and is noted for music and includes two organs and a peal of ten bells.
In 675 Osric, King of the
Hwicce, granted the Abbess Berta 100 hides near Bath for the establishment of a convent. This religious house later became a monasteryunder the patronage of the Bishop of Worcester.
King Offa of
Merciasuccessfully wrested "that most famous monastery at Bath" from the bishopin 781. William of Malmesburytells that Offa rebuilt the monastic church, which may have occupied the site of an earlier pagan temple, to such a standard that King Edwywas impelled to describe it as being "marvellously built",cite web|title=Bath Abbey|url=http://www.uquebec.ca/musique/orgues/angleterre/batha.html#English | work=Robert Poliquin's Music and Musicians| publisher=Quebec University | accessdate=2007-09-18] however little is known about architecture of the first building on this site. Monasticismin Englandhad lapsed by that time, but Edwy's brother Edgar (who was crowned "King of the English" at the Abbey in 973cite web |url=http://www.englishmonarchs.co.uk/saxon_12.htm |title=Edgar the Peaceful |accessdate=2007-12-08 |work=English Monarchs – Kings and Queens of England ] ) began its revival on his accession to the throne in 959. He encouraged monks to adopt the Rule of St Benedict, which was introduced at Bath under Abbot Ælfheah ( St. Alphege).
From the Norman Conquest to the Dissolution
Bath was ravaged in the power struggle between the sons of
William the Conquerorfollowing his death in 1087. The victor, William Rufus, granted the city to a royal physician, John of Tours, who became Bishop of Wellsand Abbotof Bath.cite book | last= Powicke | first= Maurice | authorlink= F. M. Powicke | year= 1939 | title= Handbook of British Chronology | pages= pp. 205 | isbn= 0901050172] [cite book | last= Barlow | first= Frank | authorlink = Frank Barlow (historian)| title= William Rufus | pages= pp.182 | publisher= Yale University Press | month= March | year= 2000 | isbn= 0300082916] Permission was given to move the see of Somerset from Wells – a comparatively small settlement – to the then walled cityof Bath. [cite book | last= Barlow | first= Frank | authorlink = Frank Barlow (historian)| title= William Rufus | pages= pp.182 | publisher= Yale University Press | month= March | year= 2000 | isbn= 0300082916] Huscroft "Ruling England" p. 128] When this was effected in 1090, John became the first Bishop of Bath, and St Peter's was raised to cathedralstatus. As the roles of bishop and abbot had been combined, the monastery became a priory, run by its prior. With the elevation of the abbey to cathedral status, it was felt that a larger, more up-to-date building was required. John of Tours planned a new cathedral on a grand scale, dedicated to Saint Peterand Saint Paul, but only the ambulatorywas complete when he died in December 1122. He was buried in the cathedral.cite web | url= http://british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=34341 | work= British History Online | title= Bishops of Bath and Wells 1066-1300 |accessdate= 2007-09-27]
The half-finished cathedral was devastated by fire in 1137, [cite web|url=http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=40919|title=The Cathedral Priory of Bath|last=Page|first=William|year=1911|work=History of the County of Somerset: Volume 2|publisher=British History Online|accessdate=2008-05-17] but work continued until about 1156; the completed building was approximately convert|330|ft|m|0 long. Joint cathedral status was awarded by
Pope Innocent IVto Bath and Wells in 1245. Roger of Salisbury was appointed the first Bishopof Bath and Wells, having been Bishop of Bath for a year previously. However, later bishops preferred Wells, the canons of which had successfully petitioned various popes down the years for Wells to regain cathedral status. Bath Cathedral gradually fell into disrepair. The existence of an ambulatory suggests a very large building, on a par with Durham Cathedral.
Oliver King, Bishop of Bath and Wells 1495–1503, visited Bath in 1499 he was shocked to find this famous church in ruins. [cite web|url=http://www.sacred-destinations.com/england/bath-abbey.htm|title=Bath Abbey, Bath|work=Scared Destinations|accessdate=2008-05-17] [cite web |url=http://visitbath.co.uk/site/things_to_do/p_24001 |title=Bath Abbey |accessdate=2007-12-10 |work=Visit Bath ] He took a year to consider what action to take, before writing to the Prior of Bath in October 1500 to explain that a large amount of the priory income would be dedicated to rebuilding the cathedral. Work probably began the following spring. Bishop King planned a smaller church, covering the area of the Norman nave only. He did not live to see the result, but the restoration of the cathedral was completed just a few years before the Dissolution of the Monasteriesin 1539. [cite web |url=http://www.thecityofbath.co.uk/renaissance_bath.htm |title=Renaissance Bath |accessdate=2007-12-09 |work=City of Bath ] The new church is not a typical example of the Perpendicular form of Gothic architecture; the low aisles and nave arcades and the very tall clerestory present the opposite balance to that which was usual in perpendicular churches. However, as this building was to serve as a monastic church, it was built to a cruciform plan, which had become relatively rare in parish churches of the time. The interior contains fine fan vaultingby Robert and William Vertue, who designed similar vaulting for the Henry VII chapel, at Westminster Abbey. The building has 52 windows, occupying about 80% of the wall space, [cite web |url=http://www.sacred-destinations.com/england/bath-abbey.htm |title=Bath Abbey |accessdate=2007-09-27 |work=Sacred destinations ] giving the interior an impression of lightness, and reflecting the different attitudes towards churchmanship shown by the clergy of the time and those of the 12th century.
The Reformation and subsequent decline
Prior Holloway surrendered Bath Priory to the crown in January 1539. The church was stripped of lead, iron and glass and left to decay. In 1574, Queen Elizabeth I promoted the restoration of the church, to serve as the grand parish church of Bath. She ordered that a national fund should be set up to finance the work. [cite web |url=http://www.frommers.com/destinations/bath/A25243.html |title=Bath Abbey |accessdate=2007-09-27 |work=Fromers Guide ] James Montague, the Bishop of Bath and Wells from 1608–1616, paid £1,000 for a new nave roof of timber lath construction. He is buried in an
alabastertomb in the north aisle.
Major restoration work was carried out by Sir
George Gilbert Scottin the 1860s, funded by the rector, Charles Kemble. This included the installation of fan vaultingin the nave. That was not merely a fanciful aesthetic addition, but a completion of the original design. [cite journal|last=Luxford|first=Julian M|title=In Dreams: The sculptural iconography of the west front of Bath Abbey reassessed|journal=Religion and the Arts|volume=4|issue=3|pages=314–336|oclc=DOI: 10.1163/156852901750359103|url=http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/brill/raa/2000/00000004/00000003/art00002|doi=10.1163/156852901750359103|year=2000] Bishop King had arranged for the vaulting of the choir, to a design by William and Robert Vertue. There are clues in the stonework that King intended the vaulting to continue into the nave, but that this plan was abandoned, probably for reasons of cost. Work carried out in the 20th and 21st centuries included a full cleaning of the stonework and the reconstruction of the pipe organby Klais Orgelbauof Bonn.
The Abbey is home to several notable
memorials, including those dedicated to Beau Nash, Admiral Arthur Phillip, Isaac Pitman, James Montague (Bishop of Bath and Wells), Lady Waller (wife of William Waller, a Roundheadmilitary leader in the English Civil War), Elizabeth Grieve (wife of James Grieve, physician to Elizabeth, Empress of Russia), Sir William Baker, John Sibthorp, Richard Hussey Bickerton, Admiral Arthur Phillip(first Governor of the colony of New South Wales, which became part of Australia after federation in 1901), William Hoare, Richard Bickertonand US Senator William Bingham.
* William Cupper ???? - 1539
* Peter 1616
* John Dodwell ???? - 1701
* George Griffeth ca 1703
* Abraham Jordan 1709 - 1710
* Thomas Dean 1710 - 1711
* Josiah Priest 1711 - 1726
* Thomas Chilcot 1726 - 1766
* Joseph Tylee 1767 - 1794
* Thomas Field 1795 - 1831
* Charles Milsom 1832 - 1839
* James Kendrick Pyne 1839 - 1892
* Albert Edward New 1890 - 1933
* Ernest Walter Maynard 1933 - 1967
* John Dudley Holroyd 1967 - 1985
* Peter King 1986 -
The first mention of an organ in the Abbey dates to 1634, but nothing is known of this instrument. The first properly recorded organ in Bath Abbey was built by
Abraham Jordanin 1708 on a new gallery installed in place of the medieval rood screen, which had been removed earlier, with similarly disastrous results to those seen at Durham Cathedral. It was modified in 1718 and 1739 by Jordan's son. The specification recorded in 1800 was one of twenty stops spread over three manuals.cite web|title=Bath Abbey: The Jordan organ|url=http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N05914 | work=The National Pipe Organ Register | publisher=British Institute of Organ Studies | year=1802? | accessdate=2007-09-18] The compasses of the manuals were extended, one and a half octaves of pedals were added and the instrument renovated in 1802 by John Holland; further repairs were effected by Flight & Robsonin 1826. This instrument was removed first to the Bishop's Palace at Wells in 1836,cite web|title=The Bishop's Palace, Wells|url=http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=E00460 | work=The National Pipe Organ Register | publisher=British Institute of Organ Studies | year=c.1838 | accessdate=2007-09-18] then to St Mary's Church, Yatton, where it was later rebuilt and extensively modified.cite web|title=Saint Mary the Virgin, Yatton|url=http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=A01146 | work=The National Pipe Organ Register | publisher=British Institute of Organ Studies | year=1971 | accessdate=2007-09-18]
The abbey's next organ was built in 1836 by John Smith of
Bristol, to a specification of thirty stops over three manuals and pedals.cite web|title=Bath Abbey: The Smith of Bristol organ|url=http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N05915 | work=The National Pipe Organ Register | publisher=British Institute of Organ Studies | year=1836 | accessdate=2007-09-18] This instrument was rebuilt on a new gallery in the North Transeptby William Hill & Sonof Londonin 1868, to a specification of forty stops spread over four manuals and pedals, although the Solo department, which would have brought the total to well over forty, was not completed.cite web|title=Bath Abbey: The Hill organ|url=http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N05922 | work=The National Pipe Organ Register | publisher=British Institute of Organ Studies | year=1868 | accessdate=2007-09-18] It was mostly removed to the Church of St Peter & St Paul, Cromerin 1896, the remainder being kept for incorporation in the new abbey organ.cite web|title=Cromer Parish Church|url=http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N06212 | work=The National Pipe Organ Register | publisher=British Institute of Organ Studies | year=1912 | accessdate=2007-09-18]
A new organ was supplied to the abbey in 1895 by
Norman & Beardof Norwich. It had 52 stops spread over four manuals and pedals,cite web|title=Bath Abbey: The Norman & Beard organ|url=http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N05916 | work=The National Pipe Organ Register | publisher=British Institute of Organ Studies | year=1927 | accessdate=2007-09-18] and stood divided on two steel beams in the North and South crossing arches, with the console standing on the floor next to the north-west pier of the crossing. New cases were to be provided to designs by Brian Oliver of Bath, but were never executed. Norman & Beard re-erected it in a new case designed by Sir Thomas Jackson in the North Transept in 1914, with the addition of two stops to the Pedal.It was again rebuilt by them in 1930, and then by Hill, Norman and Beard in 1948, which brought the number of stops to 58.cite web|title=Bath Abbey: The Hill, Norman & Beard organ|url=http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=N05917 | work=The National Pipe Organ Register | publisher=British Institute of Organ Studies | year=1950 | accessdate=2007-09-18] In 1972 this was increased to a total of 65 speaking stops. The Positive division, with its separate case behind the console, was installed at the same time. Problems caused by the tonal scheme's lack of coherence – the 1895 pipework contrasting greatly with that of 1972 – and with reliability, caused by the wide variety of different types of key actions, all difficult to access, led to the decision to have the instrument rebuilt yet again.
The organ was totally reconstructed in 1997 by
Klais Orgelbauof Bonn, retaining the existing instrument as far as was possible and restoring it largely to its 1895 condition, although the Positive division was kept.cite web|title=Bath Abbey: The Klais organ|url=http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=D03828 | work=The National Pipe Organ Register | publisher=British Institute of Organ Studies | year=1997 | accessdate=2007-09-18] The instrument as it now stands has 63 speaking stops over four manuals and pedals.cite web|title=Klais Orgelbau: Bath Abbey|url=http://www.orgelbau-klais.com/m.php?tx=1 | publisher=Klais Orgelbau | accessdate=2007-09-18] The instrument is built largely on the Werkprinzipprinciple of organ layout, i.e., the case being only one department deep, the only exception being that parts of the Pedal are sited at the back and not the sides of the case. New 75% tin front pipes were made and the case completed with back, side walls and roof. Pierced panelling executed by Derek Riley of Lyndale Woodcarving in Saxmundham, Suffolk, was provided to allow sound egress from the bottom of the case. The old console has been retained but thoroughly rebuilt with modern accessories and all-new manuals. 22 out of 83 ranks in the organ contain some pipework from the 1868 instrument. Four ranks are made up entirely of 1868 pipework. 21 ranks contain 1895 pipework. Only two ranks are entirely of 1895. 48 ranks contain some new pipework: 34 of these are entirely new. Old wind pressures have been used wherever possible. The old wind reservoirs have also been restored rather than replaced. The instrument has tracker key action on the manuals, with electrically assisted tracker action to the pedals. The stop action is electric throughout.
A four-stop continuo organ was built for the abbey in 1999 by
Northampton-based organ builder Kenneth Tickell.cite web|title=Bath Abbey: The Tickell continuo organ|url=http://npor.emma.cam.ac.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi?Fn=Rsearch&rec_index=R00041 | work=The National Pipe Organ Register | publisher=British Institute of Organ Studies | year=2000 | accessdate=2007-09-18] The instrument, contained in a case of dark oak, is portable, and can be tuned to three pitches: A=440 Hz (modern concert pitch), A=415 Hz and A=486 Hz. A lever pedal can reduce the stops sounding to only the 8' stop and, when released, returns the organ to the registration in use before it was depressed. A page about similar instruments on the builder's website can be found [http://www.tickell-organs.co.uk/gallery20.htm here] .
The choir has broadcast Choral Evensong on
BBC Radio 3, [cite web|title=Choral Evensong from Bath Abbey|url=http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/choralevensong/pip/v2b4z/ | work= BBC Radio 3webpages| publisher= BBC Online| accessdate=2007-09-27] and has made several recordings. It performed at the Three Tenors concert for the opening of the Thermae Bath Spa.
In 1700 the old ring of six bells was replaced by a new ring of eight. All but the tenor still survive. In 1770 two lighter bells were added to create the first ring of ten bells in the diocese. The tenor was recast in 1870. [cite web |url=http://www.btinternet.com/~copson/BBC_Bells_diary.htm |title=Bells on Sunday Diary | year=2003 | accessdate=2007-09-27 | work=Bells on Sunday Diary] The abbey's tower is now home to a ring of ten bells, which are – unusually – hung so that the order of the bells from highest to lowest runs anti-clockwise around the ringing chamber. The tenor weighs 33 cwt (3,721 lb or 1,688 kg).cite web|title=Dove's Guide - Bath Abbey|url=http://www.cccbr.org.uk/dove/detail.php?searchString=Bath+Abbey&numPerPage=10&searchAmount=%3D&searchMetric=cwt&sortBy=Place&sortDir=Asc&DoveID=BATH++++AB | work=
Dove's Guide for Church Bell Ringers| publisher=The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers | accessdate=2007-09-18] Bath is a noted centre of change ringingin the West Country.
Bishop of Bath and Wells
List of Bishops of Bath and Wells and precursor offices
* [http://www.bathabbey.org/ Bath Abbey]
* [http://www.theclergydatabase.org.uk/cce/apps/locations/DisplayLocation.jsp?locKey=4321 Details of clergy appointments to Bath Abbey, c1540-1825] in the
Clergy of the Church of England Database
* [http://www.buildinghistory.org/bath/abbey/ Jean Manco, Bath Abbey: The Indian Summer of Bath Priory]
* [http://www.bath-hotels-cheap.com/bath-abbey/ Bath Abbey] Independent study and pictures
* [http://www.paradoxplace.com/Photo%20Pages/UK/Britain_South_and_West/Bath_Abbey/Bath.htm Adrian Fletcher's Paradoxplace Bath Abbey Pages – Photos]
* [http://www.uquebec.ca/musique/orgues/angleterre/batha.html#English Robert Poliquin's Music and Musicians at Quebec University: Bath Abbey] :* [http://www.uquebec.ca/musique/orgues/angleterre/batha1.html Photos of the church and current organ, plus drawings of the Jordan and Smith organs]
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rx-nc1nZ_0 Video of the Abbey's bells being rung]
half-muffledto call changesfor Remembrance Day
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.