Bath, Somersetshire, the chief town of Somersetshire, is situated on the river Avon and the Great Western Railway; 107 miles from London. Setting aside the mythical legend of King Bladud, it is first known in history in the 1st century A.D. as Aqua Solis, and numerous remains show that its mineral springs were familiar to the Romans. Offa founded an abbey here in 775, and Edgar was crowned in 973. The first charter was granted to the borough by Richard I., and it sent a member to Parliament in 1297. It was not, however, till the 18th century that the chalybeate waters, which have a natural temperature of 117° to 120° F., began to be appreciated so highly for gouty, rheumatic, and hepatic disorders, and the patronage of royal and aristocratic sufferers made the place a resort of fashion. Streets of fine houses, built of the local freestone, rose crescent-wise on the hill to the right of the river, which was spanned by noble bridges. In 1771 the Assembly Rooms were completed, and since then a number of public institutions have come into existence, including the Guildhall, Literary Institute, and Sydney Gardens, the hospital, etc. The springs are six in number, the King's being the oldest; and in the pump-room connected therewith "Beau Nash" from 1704 to 1750 reigned supreme over the fashionable throng that met to dance, flirt, gamble, and get rid of their ailments. The scene has been described by many novelists. When the Continent became more accessible the popularity of Bath declined except as a place of residence. It has recently shown symptoms of revival. The abbey church, dating from 1499, and restored by Scott, is a handsome structure, and contains some interesting monuments. The grammar school was founded by Edward VI. The royal school for daughters of officers, the Bath college, and the Roman Catholic college are modern establishments.
Bath gives its name to various articles: - Bath Brick is composed of the fine silicious sand of the river Parrett in Somersetshire, which is made into bricks at Bridgewater for convenience of carriage, and used for cleaning knives, etc. Bath Buns are larger and richer than the ordinary Bun (q.v.). Bath Chaps are the cheek or chop of the pig, cured or smoked. Bath Chairs are small wheeled and hooded carriages used by invalids and others, usually drawn by a man, sometimes by a pony or donkey. Bath Metal is an alloy of copper and zinc, usually 55 parts of the former and 45 of the latter.