Dominating Bath's center, this 15th-century edifice of golden, glowing stone has a splendid west front, with carved figures of angels ascending ladders on either side. Notice, too, the miter, olive tree, and crown motif, a play on the name of the building's founder, Bishop Oliver King. More than 50 stained-glass windows fill about 80% of the building's wall space, giving the interior an impression of lightness. The abbey was built in the Perpendicular (English late-Gothic)
style on the site of a Saxon abbey, and the nave and side aisles contain superb fan-vaulted ceilings. Look for the 21st-century expressively carved angels on the choir screens. There are five services on Sunday, including choral evensong at 3:30. Forty-five-minute tower tours, allowing close-up views of the massive bells and panoramic cityscapes from the roof, take place daily except Sundays; the 212 dizzying steps demand a level of fitness.
Abbey Churchyard, Bath, BA1 1LT, England
May 25, 2005
Ask one of the officials inside and they'll be happy to share the rich history of this impressive cathedral.