Saturday 28 August 2010

A wall in Bath Abbey

A portion of a wall in Bath Abbey.
Recently I went to Bath. One of the places I visited was Bath Abbey. I have been into many ancient churches over the years and into many Cathedrals, most more than once, Winchester,Wells, Salisbury, Canterbury,Rochester, Westminster Abbey,St Pauls, Chichester, St David's, Manchester, York Minster and the list could go on.However, I have never seen what confronted me on entering Bath Abbey.

All cathedrals and ancient churches have monuments where the rich and famous are remembered and they all have their tombs in the crypt or prominently placed in an aisle or recess .Bath Abbey is unique, however,because so many crowded and massed monuments fill the walls and floor.  The monuments are crammed together. Obviously Bath has been a popular place to die, be remembered and buried in. The ages, and often a mention of where they came from or originated, tells a story. People of a certain age , mid fifties and older, came for the waters to improve their health but died in Bath and so got buried in the Abbey.Others who died in other locations are remembered too on some of the plaques. They either were born and lived in Bath for part of their lives or they felt an affinity with Bath after having visited the city on numerous occasions perhaps.The Abbey is a testimony to the popularity of Bath in the 18th and 19th centuries for the wealthy and god fearing.

Here are a few interesting tomb inscriptions which tell a story to be told.

" Near this stone are deposited the mortal remains of major general Sir Henry White K.C.B. On 7th November 1822. he served in the Bengal Army. A distinguished officer for a period of fifty years. The judicious position taken by his division in the attack on Agra which accelerated it's fall and the reduction of the strong hill fort of Gwalion by siege are proofs of zeal and military skill which do honour the memory of a soldier."

This is the stuff of novels and Hollywood films.

Another stone records:

" Near this place lies the body of Roger Elletson Esquire late lieutenant Governor of His Majesties land of Jamaica who after having borne a very long and painful and lingering illness with the utmost Christian Patience and Fortitude was by the goodness of his creator released from his sufferings at this place on November the 28th 1773 aged 48."

He must have promoted,encouraged and taken profits from slavery. A wealthy man indeed.

And another interesting inscription reads:

" Near this place lyeth the body of Jacob Bosanquet of the City of London Esquire. A truly good and honest man. A tender husband. Affectionate father. And faithful friend. Not more industrious in acquiring a fortune than generous in dispensing it. Thus happily furnished with every social virtue he lived beloved and died lamented on the 9th day of June 1767 and in the 54th year of his age."

I was nearly crying myself with that one. He was so perfect. He was obviously great at a party with all his ,"social virtues," and he acquired a fortune. I wonder how?

The slave trade in Britain and the British Empire was not abolished until 1807 and slavery itself was not abolished until 1833.


  1. I was only in Bath for two days, but I loved the town. I think it had a lot to do with the color of the marble which gave it an aura. BTW, I read your post on Jane Austen's World. Who used the candle snuffer? Great pics as always.

  2. Hi Mary. Thanks for your comments. Vic and I have both tried to answer your question about the snuffer. I noticed that each street, crescent and road had one, usually on a house at the end of the road. There were not many.

    All the best,

  3. Tony, this post was fascinating. I loved the inscriptions you shared. You gathered so much information during your trip. I am all astonishment!