Bath

Bath, city (1991 pop. 84,283), Bath and North East Somerset, SW England, in the Avon River valley. Britain's leading winter resort, Bath has the only natural hot springs in the country. Engineering, printing, bookbinding, wool-weaving, and clothing are among Bath's industries.

In the 1st cent. A.D., the Romans discovered the natural springs and named the site Aquae Solis ("waters of the sun"). They then built elaborate lead-lined baths with heating and cooling systems (first excavated in 1755). In Saxon times the city was destroyed and the baths buried. From the time of Chaucer until the Tudor era, Bath had a flourishing wool and cloth industry.

In the 18th cent. Beau (Richard) Nash, establishing social standards equal to those of London society, and the architect John Wood and his son transformed Bath into England's most fashionable spa. The Woods, using Bath stone from nearby quarries, built Queen Square, the Circus, and the Royal Crescent, all excellent examples of Georgian architecture. The Assembly Rooms, of the same period, were destroyed by air raids in World War II but later restored. Near Bath is a museum of American arts and crafts.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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