Bath Abbey is one of the most historic and unusual abbey churches in England. Situated in the middle of town and right next to the best preserved Roman Baths in the world, Bath Abbey was a Benedictine monastery in the Middle Ages. The church was re-built just before Henry VIII’s revolution. The West front (which you see here) is famous for the Jacob’s Ladder carving. You can see the ladder on both corner towers with angels ascending and descending–thus a sign that this place is a “Bethel” the place where God is met.
When I lived in England, Bath was our main shopping town. It was just about twenty minutes by train, and we spent many happy days there, not least of them a day with my friend Joseph Pearce and his wife Susanna.
The Roman Baths were built on the site because at that place hot springs well up making a natural hot mineral spa. The ruins and archeological museum about the Roman baths can be visited and the medieval abbey rises up from them.
Bath Abbey is now an Anglican place of worship. The present church was built at the end of the fifteenth century–just before Henry VIII’s iconoclastic social and religious revolution. This ambitious building project–along with many others built at the time–gives the lie that the late medieval church was dead and dying. So many ambitious building projects are not the sign of a moribund church.