The history behind Bath’s famous spas

A city that we love to visit on our tours, Bath is famously known as home to one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK – the Roman Baths. Drawing in over one million visitors per year from all over the world, the history behind this historic landmark dates back to around 8000 BC, with evidence suggesting that there was human activity around the hot springs on which Bath is now built.

Legend has it that at around 863 BC, having been cured of leprosy by the hot springs, Prince Bladud founded the city of Bath as a sign of his appreciation. It wasn’t until around AD 43 that the Romans came and, discovering the springs, began to develop the town as a place for relaxation – a very different approach to other Roman towns, which served as garrisons.

In AD 70 they built a reservoir to contain the hot waters, as well as a series of baths and a temple to the goddess Sulis Minerva. Both a religious shrine and bathing complex, Bath began to attract a variety of visitors from both Britain and further afield.

Legend has it that at around 863 BC, having been cured of leprosy by the hot springs, Prince Bladud founded the city of Bath as a sign of his appreciation. It wasn’t until around AD 43 that the Romans came and, discovering the springs, began to develop the town as a place for relaxation – a very different approach to other Roman towns, which served as garrisons.

In AD 70 they built a reservoir to contain the hot waters, as well as a series of baths and a temple to the goddess Sulis Minerva. Both a religious shrine and bathing complex, Bath began to attract a variety of visitors from both Britain and further afield.

Following this there were many changes and additions made over time, including the rebuilding of the baths over the Temple Precinct in 1138, to 1174 when further improvements were made and the St John’s Hospital was founded – gaining income from those visiting the baths for their healing waters.

By around 1703, Bath had become the top resort to visit, having undergone further developments and becoming popular with visitors from mainland Europe as well as the Royal Family. During the 1790s the Great Pump Room was built as part of the new building works that took place across Bath – resulting in the famous architecture that we all recognise today.

Thought to have healing effects, the early 1900s saw the water bottled and sold to those looking for relief from various ailments, whilst in 1948 - with the creation of the National Health Service - treatments using the ‘healing waters’ began to be prescribed.

It wasn’t until 1976, when The Royal Mineral Water Hospital ceased their use of the Hot Bath that it closed. The Tepid Bath and Beau Street Swimming Bath followed close behind – closing in 1978.

Thought to have healing effects, the early 1900s saw the water bottled and sold to those looking for relief from various ailments, whilst in 1948 - with the creation of the National Health Service - treatments using the ‘healing waters’ began to be prescribed.

It wasn’t until 1976, when The Royal Mineral Water Hospital ceased their use of the Hot Bath that it closed. The Tepid Bath and Beau Street Swimming Bath followed close behind – closing in 1978.

As we know, this wasn’t the end of the Roman Baths. They – along with the Pump Room – have become a top tourist attraction that attracts huge crowds every year. The three hot springs on which Bath was built can still be found beneath the city – one of which supplies the Roman Baths, whilst the remaining two serve the Thermae Bath Spa. Opened in 2006, the public is once again able to enjoy the mineral–rich waters.

Discover Bath for yourself on our Bath, Stongehege and a Secret Place Tour for yourself!