Bath’s Victorian Spa Quarter

Explore the forgotten Victorian Spa Heritage of Bath.

What will you find on this website?

Discover and understand the history of the Victorian Spa buildings. Through stories, audio recordings and images you can explore the 19th century heritage of the spa quarter and see how this period of Bath shaped the city around us.

Explore the hidden history through maps and images of Bath in this period. Listen to stories or read the transcripts of those who lived and visited Bath and their experiences of the Victorian Spa. 

Become a part of the story by joining our Pinterest board and through the selfie map on the maps page.

Unveil the hidden history of Bath and experience more of its wonders.

The History of Spas in Bath

The Myth of Prince Bladud

The myth of Prince Bladud is that he was the son of a Celtic king, who lived on the hills surrounding Bath. Bladud was banished when he fell ill with leprosy. He became a pig farmer and passed the leprosy onto the pigs who wallowed in the spring. Upon bathing in the spring, the pigs were cured of their leprosy, Bladud bathed as well and he was cured too. This is how the hot waters and their ‘healing’ powers were discovered by the Celts and how Bath became famous. 

Bath’s Spa Heritage

Before the Romans invaded Britain in 43AD, the city of Bath as we know it was not inhabited. The local Celtic tribe (the Dobunni) lived on the hills surrounding Bath, and they built a causeway to the spring. To the Celts, this bubbling, hot water was a place where they could communicate with their deity, the goddess Sulis of health, war and wisdom. As far as we know, this was the first time any changes were made to this area.

The Romans came to bath between 43AD and 69AD, and it was during this time that they began to build the bath house. The Romans, like the Celts before them, believed that the hot waters were a place where they could communicate with their deity, the goddess Minerva of health, war and wisdom. The two goddesses were merged together; becoming the goddess Sulis Minerva. Being the goddess of health, from the inception over 2,000 years ago the hot waters of Bath have been used as healing waters. This view became prominent in the Georgian period when Queen Anne visited to use the waters to heal her gout in 1702. This led to the creation of Bath as a spa town – leading to people of the upper sorts visiting the town for leisure and health; this grew in the Victorian period. The Victorian’s invented new treatments including the water and many visited to take the waters. The Royal National Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases still uses the waters today to help treat patients.

About the Team

The images, audio and information on the website was part of a third year project by Heritage students at Bath Spa University for the Roman Baths’ Archway Project. The project was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

The Team consisted of Peri Trott, Lauren Laker, Ffion Jones, Charlotte Sexton, Gemma Burgham and Charlotte Cooper.

Images

Find a selection of images linking to the Victorian Spa Quarter.

More Images