5 Bath Curiosities: Discovering Secret Bath

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Disclosure: This article may contain links to products or services (including Amazon) that pay me a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you.

The city of Bath is much more than just the Romans and the Georgians. I have spent the last two years scouring the city and the surrounding countryside for hidden and overlooked places, some hidden in plain sight and some rather more obscure. I found everything from medieval remains to industrial archaeology, from nature reserves to modern architecture. The end result is my latest publication: Secret Bath, An Unusual Guide.

To whet your appetite here are brief descriptions of just five of the 150 places covered in the book.

1. A Pub Shaped Like A Coffin

The Star Inn is a proper old fashioned pub with oak panelling, wooden benches and four separate bars. It has no music, TV or games machines: this is a place for a drink and a chat, or just to sit in a corner and read. But the Star is also notable for its curious shape – long and thin, just like a coffin. This may just be because it had to fit into a narrow space beside other buildings. Or it could have been because it was a convenient advert for the builder… who was also a coffin maker.

Long thin building built from yellow Bath stone. At the centre is a pub front and the world The Star Inn.
The Star Inn is long and thin – like a coffin

2. A Secluded Lane For Lovers

On the edge of Victoria Park, and passing the backs of the grand houses on Gay Street and The Circus, the Gravel Walk was created in the 18th century to allow ladies – and their suitors – to walk into town without being overlooked or overheard. It is still a relatively peaceful and little-used lane today. If you follow the path you will also encounter the site of one of the city’s duelling grounds, a recreated Georgian garden, and – reputedly – a few ghosts.

Narrow curved path with large trees and grass on either side.
The secluded Gravel Walk

3. A Modern Labyrinth

The Beazer Garden Maze, just below Pulteney Bridge, isn’t exactly hidden but few passers-by stop to have a closer look. This is a modern labyrinth, created by a former spy and diplomat in 1984. The paths of the maze could be used for contemplation but are more often followed by children racing to the centre. Here you will find a large mosaic, fashioned from 92,000 pieces of Italian marble. This symbolises aspects of the city’s heritage – Celtic, Roman and modern – with a Gorgon’s head, mythological figures, and the four seasons.

Circular maze with grass and paved paths. At the centre is a large mosaic.
There is an elaborate maze at the centre of the Beazer Maze

4. The Story Of Bath Stone

Much of the history of Bath is tied up with its geology. First there were the hot springs that attracted the Romans. Then there was the famous golden Bath stone that was extracted from the surrounding hills and used to build the Georgian city. The Museum of Bath Stone is one of the city’s excellent small museums, and tells the story of the stone, the quarrymen, and the village of Combe Down where many of the mines were located.

Corner of a museum with photographs of quarrymen, stone exhibits, and information about the mines.
The Museum of Bath Stone is full of exhibits and information about the local stone and quarrying

5. A Hidden Medieval Lane

In the Middle Ages the city streets would mostly have been narrow cobbled lanes. One of these, known as Slippery Lane, still remains, almost hidden between two shops on Northgate. Unfortunately the entrance to the lane is now gated but you can stand at the end and look down the confined passageway to imagine what it might have been like to walk around the city hundreds of years ago. (And if you’re wondering about the name, remember that the medieval inhabitants would have thrown their scraps and slops out onto the street each morning…)

Narrow cobbled street covered with green moss. On either side are tall stone buildings.
Looking down Slippery Lane

Lots More To Discover…

This is just a small taster of Secret Bath, which has lots more information about the places mentioned here, and many more hidden sights. I hope locals and visitors alike will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

Cover and publisher's description for Secret Bath.

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WorldWideWriter is owned and managed by Karen Warren.

I have been writing and travelling for many years (almost 70 countries at the last count), and I’ve visited every continent except Antarctica. This website is my attempt to inform and inspire other travellers, and to share some of the things I’ve discovered along the way. Read more…

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