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Local contractor appointed by Bath Abbey’s Footprint project

Bath Abbey has appointed Bath-based firm Emery to deliver the building work for its £19.3 million Footprint project, with work inside and outside the Abbey due to start at the end of May.

Following a European-wide competition process, Emery, a family-run building contractor established in 1947, was selected and will be working in partnership with two other local companies, Wheeler's in Westbury who will carry out the electrical and mechanical work, and SSHConservation in Wells will be responsible for the stonework.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Footprint project is a £19.3 million programme of capital works and interpretation which will repair the Abbey’s collapsing floor, install a new eco-friendly heating system using Bath’s hot springs, and provide new, improved space and facilities to ensure the Abbey is more sustainable, hospitable and useable for local residents, worshippers and visitors alike.

Charles Curnock, Bath Abbey’s Footprint Project Director, said: “We are pleased to announce Emery as lead contractor with SSH Conservation and Wheeler’s as subcontractors, and look forward to the work commencing on-site. While we received a high calibre of tenders from all across Europe, we are very pleased to be working with companies who are based in the South West. This appointment is another major step forward for the Footprint programme which has been in planning and development for the last nine years.”

Julian Emery, managing director of Emery, said: “As a locally based company, we are delighted to be given the opportunity to work on the Footprint project. It is a fantastic project not just for the Abbey but for Bath as a whole. It has really captured everyone’s imagination, especially the prospect of having an eco-friendly heating system using some of the energy from Bath’s famous hot springs. We're also pleased to be able to support the local economy by using businesses from the area whenever possible during the build programme and look forward to bringing to life the Abbey’s vision to make it fit-for-purpose for future generations.”

Wessex Water will be digging and laying pipes that will carry hot water from the Roman Baths into the new eco-heating system. The Abbey has also appointed Wessex Archaeology from Salisbury to work alongside the building contractors to document and interpret any objects that may be uncovered by the excavation.

To find out more about how to support Bath Abbey’s Footprint project, visit Your donations will be generously matched by the Brownsword Charitable Foundation. This means that any donation you give to the Footprint project will automatically be doubled: if you donate £10, the Brownsword Charitable Foundation will also give £10 - your £10 donation is worth £20 to Footprint! Simply use the reference ‘FPBF’ when donating.

Bath Abbey receives go-ahead to use Bath’s hot springs for eco-heating project

Bath Abbey has been granted a lease of rights by B&NES Council to use some of the energy in Bath’s famous hot springs for an innovative eco-heating system to heat the Abbey and surrounding buildings.

Every day, a quarter of a million gallons of hot water flow from the Sacred Spring underneath the Roman Baths complex and through the Great Roman Drain into the nearby River Avon. This underground journey takes it directly past the Abbey. If harnessed correctly and converted as part of the Abbey and B&NES Council’s joint initiative, it could produce 1.5 megawatts of continuous energy – more than enough to heat the Abbey and surrounding buildings.

As part of the Abbey’s ambitious Footprint project – which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund – engineers plan to install heat exchangers in the Great Roman Drain which will capture the energy in the hot water and transform it into renewable energy. This will form part of a unique underground heating system that will be then used to heat the Abbey and other buildings.

Charles Curnock, Footprint Project Director from Bath Abbey, said: “This is a truly exciting and inventive way of tapping into Bath’s most famous resource to create sustainable energy. As far as we know, it has never been done before on this scale, and we are thrilled to be working with the Roman Baths and other departments of B&NES Council on this unique project. By granting us the lease of rights, the Council has set us on our way to providing a sustainable and eco-friendly solution for both the Abbey and the city of Bath by capturing this incredible and ancient natural resource which is currently unused.

“This a major change for the Abbey, but one which is vital now and for future generations. Our current heating system dates back to the Victorian era, is extremely inefficient and expensive to maintain. This combined with the work we’re doing as part of our wider Footprint project to repair the Abbey’s collapsing floor makes this the ideal time for us to consider a new underfloor heating system.”

The initial trials and investigations for the project have already taken place, and more planning and development is being carried out before further building work on the Abbey’s Footprint programme starts. Wessex Water will be digging and laying pipes that will carry hot water from the Roman Baths into the new eco-heating system. Any modern elements of the system would be hidden underground and an archaeologist will be working alongside the engineers to document any artefacts that may be uncovered by the required excavations.

Wera Hobhouse, MP for Bath and Liberal Democrat spokesperson for communities and local government said: “This is a progressive, sustainable project for the Abbey, yet remains
quintessentially Bath. This collaboration is a real achievement, and everyone should feel proud that they are adding to Bath’s heritage in an environmentally friendly manner. Along with the wider Footprint Project, it will really add value to the city. I look forward to attending services knowing the building is heated by the same water to which Bath owes its very existence.”

To find out more about how to support Bath Abbey’s Footprint project, visit Your donations will be generously matched by the Brownsword Charitable Foundation. This means that any donation you give to the Footprint project will automatically be doubled: if you donate £10, the Brownsword Charitable Foundation will also give £10 - your £10 donation is worth £20 to Footprint! Simply use the reference ‘FPBF’ when donating.

Abbey receives permission to remove pews

We were very pleased to learn yesterday evening that an application for permission to appeal against the decision regarding future seating in the Abbey has been refused, enabling the Abbey's Footprint programme to now go ahead without the threat of another court hearing. This means that, once the collapsing floor has been repaired, the Abbey has permission to reveal the historic floor of the Abbey for the first time in 150 years and to use comfortable chairs in the main body of the church. This is a vital part of our Footprint Project - to find out more about our future plans for the Abbey, click here.

New exhibition opens in Bath Abbey to mark lead up to Easter

A new exhibition opens in Bath Abbey today featuring a series of 12 pictures by Bath-based artist, Marco Cazzulini. The exhibition - Communion, a visual response to the Psalms - will mark the lead up to Easter, when the Abbey recollects the final journey of Christ to his death in Jerusalem.

The pictures are based on the Psalms from the Old Testament and illustrate themes common to our humanity and the humanity of Christ on his journey through opposition and betrayal.

The exhibition will be on display from 14 February to 2 April and will be supported by a series of four evening talks which will illuminate the pictures and make connections with the biblical account of Christ’s journey. Evening talks will take place every Wednesday from 28 February to 21 March, 7:15pm - 9pm.

The artist, Marco Cazzulini, said, “I was prompted by a desire to engage with the Psalms as they continue to reveal themselves within the heart of our humanity. It is an inward journey that rises upward and outward to God. It is a singular approach to a book that is at once deeply personal yet universally luminous. From the individual lament through to communal thanksgiving the scope of the Psalms is broad, rich and provocative.

“To exhibit within Bath Abbey, during Lent, is special. It sets the artworks into a larger context and I hope they will become pieces through which people can pause and reflect on image and original Psalm.”

Stephen Girling, Acting Rector of Bath Abbey said, “We are delighted to be hosting these pictures, the first time they have been on public display.  Marco has immense technical skill, a sincere Christian faith and a deep desire to understand our relationship with God.  We hope these pictures and the accompanying talks will enrich the lives of many as we approach Easter and consider our own humanity in the light of Christ."

Bath’s top spot for romance

Bath Abbey’s historic Tower was the site of 38 marriage proposals last year as individuals climbed 212 steps to the top of the city landmark to pop the question to their loved ones.

The Abbey has been offering visitors tours of its Tower for nearly ten years but only launched its Romantic Tower Tours a few years ago. Since its first Romantic Tower Tour in 2012, over 180 couples have enjoyed this experience. The couples range from those who live locally to as far afield as Australia and the United States with reasons for taking the tour including being on honeymoon or wanting to celebrate a wedding anniversary. Increasingly, the Abbey’s Tower Tour Guides have reported a trend in visitors surprising their partners with marriage proposals while on a Romantic Tower Tour.

Holly Doughty, Events and Tower Tour Lead, said: “We usually get special requests from one of the couples, so we tend to know in advance but we of course never give the surprise away. Usually we’re hidden around the corner waiting for the “Yes!” before we appear with a bottle of champagne to congratulate the happy couple. 

We’ve been running Romantic Tower Tours for more than five years now and usually get a couple of proposals each month but it’s always still really fun for us. The best part is that we can claim a 100% success rate. All proposals made up here have ended up with a happy engagement! At 49 metres high, surrounded by stunning 360 degree views of Bath, love definitely must be in the air up here!”
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, why not book a Tower Tour for two for a fun and imaginative way to celebrate the day? Tailored for two, couples will get to spend quality time together at the top of the tower enjoying glasses of champagne surrounded by spectacular views of the city.

Other highlights include sitting behind the Abbey clock-face, chiming the Abbey bells and standing on top of the famous vaulted ceiling.

To book a Romantic Tower Tour, contact Holly Doughty, Bath Abbey’s Tower Tour and Events Lead, today on: 01225 422462 or Prices start from £100 (per couple) depending on timings and availability.

Bath Abbey also offers Tower Tours for individual visitors and groups. Tickets cost £8 per adult, £4 per child. The fully guided tour takes 45 - 50 minutes and tickets can be purchased from the Abbey shop on the day only. Group bookings need to be booked in advance.

For more information, please see

Celebration of Ministry of Rector of Bath Abbey

The Revd Edward Mason retired from his role as the Rector of Bath Abbey after 13 years of service to the city and the Diocese of Bath and Wells.

A special service of thanksgiving and celebration of Edward’s ministry was held yesterday (Sunday 7 January) at the Abbey. Over 500 people including friends, family, the Abbey community as well as industry leaders and representatives from the city’s various charities joined together to say farewell to Edward and his wife, Hilary, and to wish them well for the future. A formal presentation thanking Edward for his service was made by the Archdeacon of Bath, Revd Dr Adrian Youings, and the Abbey’s Churchwardens, Dr James Playfair and Mrs Liz Westbrook.

In addition to his role as Rector, Edward is also a Chaplain to Her Majesty The Queen. He will continue to serve in this role after his retirement.

On announcing his retirement to the Abbey community, Edward said, “I have enjoyed my time here at Bath Abbey and in Bath immensely. Being rector of this busy, thriving church in the heart of Bath has been a wonderful experience and a privilege. In my 13 years as rector, the Abbey has undergone many changes and it will continue to do so in order to adapt to and meet the needs of the community. There is now a very strong team, both lay and ordained, staff and volunteers, here at the Abbey and I am confident that the Abbey will continue to thrive under their guidance.”

"The timing is also right on a personal level. My wife and I have our sixth grandchild on the way, so I will be busier than ever! I also expect to continue serving the church in other ways. My passion has always been for sharing the Christian message and I hope to have more time to focus on specific interests, especially supporting the church in the Holy Land and opportunities for broadcasting. I don’t believe that Christians ever retire from learning about their faith and being a follower of Jesus Christ. As soon as you leave one responsibility something else appears. There will be opportunities between now and November to say more, but my overwhelming sense is a deep gratitude for the privilege of serving amongst you all.”

Edward was appointed as Rector of Bath Abbey in 2004. From being Director of Music at a comprehensive school in Gloucestershire, Edward and his wife Hilary spent six years in Uganda with their family as Mission Partners with the Church Mission Society working as Christian educators.  He was ordained in 1991 and has served in both inner-city and suburban contexts.

Liz Westbrook and James Playfair, Bath Abbey’s Churchwardens, said: “With the Abbey’s two vision statements of the last thirteen years – “Where Heaven and Earth Meet” and “People and Place Fully Alive” – there has been a transformation in almost every facet of Abbey life – from our prayer life and worship, to our focus on people, to our welcome, to our position in the city and local community, our heritage and music, mission and pastoral support, to the vision, creation, detailed planning and achievements of Footprint. It has to be said that such unique progress, over the last thirteen years, has been in every way due to the exceptional, dedicated but modest and sacrificial leadership that Edward has given to us all. A sincere and heartfelt thank you – to you – from us all.”

As the Abbey says a fond farewell to Edward and the page is turned on another chapter in its rich history, the next step will be to start on the process of finding his successor.  The process to nominate the next Rector of Bath Abbey will be led by the Bishop of Bath and Wells and will start now following Edward’s retirement. The Revd Stephen Girling will take over as Acting Rector of Bath Abbey until a new Rector is appointed.

To read the press release in full click here.

More photos of the service can be viewed here on the Abbey's Facebook page.

Plans to open up Abbey interior gets go-ahead

Plans to transform the interior of Bath Abbey is now set to go ahead following a decision by the Church of England’s consistory court that the Abbey’s pews can be removed permanently and replaced with stackable chairs. This will enable the Abbey to open up its nave, install eco-friendly underfloor heating and repair its collapsing floor.

The work is part of the Abbey’s innovative Footprint project, a programme of capital works and interpretation, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, that will secure the Abbey’s physical future and improve its hospitality, worship and service to the city. A major aspect of the project is to replace the Abbey’s antiquated heating system with an innovative design using underfloor heating powered by energy from Bath’s natural hot springs.

Following nearly a decade of planning, consultation and development work, building work inside the Abbey is expected to start in the spring of 2018. However, before any work could take place, the Abbey had to apply for permission from the Church of England for the fixed pews to be removed.

Revd Edward Mason of Bath Abbey said. “We are delighted with the decision of the Consistory Court. We strongly believe in the benefits of removing the pews. It will enable us to open up the Abbey’s nave and side aisles to all and make it possible for people of different physical ability to sit where they choose. Stackable chairs mean that the nave can be used for a wide variety of traditional and contemporary worship and restore the Abbey to the community use for which it was first designed."

"It will also mean that for the first time in over 150 years, hundreds of the Abbey’s historic ledger stones, previously hidden beneath the pews, will once again be seen, revealing a whole layer of 17th and 18th century ancestry and heritage.”

Revd Mason continued: “We are aware that change to a historic and much-loved building like the Abbey can be difficult to understand and can provoke strong reactions. However, we have had considerable support for this change from the local community and honestly believe that freeing the nave of pews will greatly benefit the hundreds of thousands that come into the Abbey every year."

The Consistory Court was initiated by the Victorian Society which opposed the permanent removal of the nave pews.

Revd Mason said, "We remain very appreciative of the significant contribution the Victorians made to the interior of the Abbey, in particular architect, Gilbert Scott. Much of their contribution remains valuable today such as the fabulous nave ceiling. Gilbert Scott himself did exactly what we’re aiming to do with our Footprint programme: he tried to repair the floor, put in advanced heating and lighting and changed the seating to cater for the needs of the day. Before 1860, the Abbey would have been completely open plan with no fixed seating at all. With our Footprint programme, we are simply following in the footsteps of many before us in changing and renewing the Abbey for today's needs and for future generations."

Bath Abbey Footprint is a £19.3 million programme of capital works, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which includes:

  • Repairing and restoring the collapsing floor
  • A sustainable, eco-friendly heating system using energy from Bath's famous hot springs
  • Creating new spaces underground including a Discovery Centre, meeting rooms, kitchens and
  • cloakrooms
  • Providing first-class facilities that will enable the Music Department to work with local choirs, schools, and hundreds of visiting children
  • An exciting interpretation and activities programme to share stories about the Abbey's past and present.

Footprint will enable the Abbey to fulfil its vision of becoming a place of congregation, equal access
and hospitality, and 'A People and Place Fully Alive'

To find out more, please see

Bath Abbey to welcome over 50,000 visitors this December

Bath Abbey is expecting over 50,000 people through their doors this December between Advent Sunday and Christmas Day.

Just in terms of visitor figures, the Abbey welcomed 29,172 people last December, a 20% increase on December 2015. In addition to this, approximately a further 23,000 attended church services during this festive period.

Christmas is a wonderful time of year with plenty happening at Bath Abbey to mark this very special season. From carol-singing to spectacular choral concerts, including the widely-popular Advent Procession, the Abbey hosts around 40 different Christmas services and three huge Christmas concerts.

During the Bath Christmas market (23 November to 9 December), Festive Tower Tours give shoppers the opportunity to climb the 212 steps to the top of the Abbey Tower in order to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the market. Visitors and Bath residents alike can also get into the festive spirit with Shoppers Carols at 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm every Saturday while the Christmas Market is on.

Attendance for special services, such as the Advent Procession, Nine Lessons and Carols, and Carol Praise on Christmas Eve, sees the Abbey filled to capacity.

Revd Stephen Girling from Bath Abbey said: “The Abbey is very busy every day from Advent Sunday until Christmas Day.  Visitors come to enjoy the festive atmosphere and local schools, community groups and members of the Abbey community attend our numerous Christmas services. We can seat over 1,000 people in the Abbey and for our most popular services such as the Advent Procession, we have to ticket the service to help us with our preparations.

“We also have Shoppers Carols four times a day on Saturdays during the Bath Christmas market when each service attracts 500-700 people.  The busiest and most poignant moments in the Abbey are on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. With four services on Christmas Eve and another three on Christmas Day, it’s our delight to share worship with thousands. This year those numbers are magnified as the Christmas Day service on Radio 4 will be a broadcast from Bath Abbey.

“The combination of services, rehearsals and the relatively small space of the Abbey makes December a very busy but amazing time for us especially as we try to make each person important and each service special.  Everyone has a great time and there’s genuine community spirit with giving and receiving and plenty of Christmas joy.”

To find out more about how you can join in the festivities at Bath Abbey and enjoy Christmas carols in the Abbey’s beautiful surroundings, please see below or visit

To read the press release in full click here.


We were very sorry to say farewell to our Abbey Vicar, Claire Robson, after eight years here at the Abbey.

A massive thank you to Claire from all of us here at the Abbey. She has made a unique and important contribution to the life of the Abbey and will be greatly missed by staff, congregation and volunteers.

She is a superb preacher and many in the Abbey community have benefited from her personal spiritual direction: this is a hidden part of a priest’s work and she has special gifts in that area. Claire has helped to make the Abbey what it is, expanding our vision, making us more aware of a ministry to visitors, and developing links with the city.

Please join us in wishing Claire all the very best and in our prayers as she finds new joy and a flourishing in her vocation to write.

If you wish to leave a message for Claire, please email or visit our Facebook page and we'll pass it on.

Bath Abbey walls to tell all

Did you know Bath Abbey’s historic floor and walls are covered with over 1,500 memorial stones each with a different story to tell? Families will be able to discover the fascinating tales behind these ancient stones in the Abbey this October half-term.

As part of Bath Museums Week, members of the public can take part in family-friendly tours of the Abbey’s memorial stones on Monday 23 October; Tuesday 24 October; Wednesday 25 October and Friday 27 October at 10.15am, 11.15am, 12.15pm, 2.15pm and 3.15pm each day. The tours are 45-minutes long and have been especially tailored for families and children from the age of 7 upwards.

Ollie Taylor, the Abbey’s Interpretation Officer, said: “There’s the familiar saying: “If only walls could talk.” In a way, ours can! The Abbey’s walls and floors are lined with over 1,500 historic memorials, each with a different story to tell. These ancient stones commemorate individuals from all walks of life; some grand, some ordinary, some happy, some sad, but all equally fascinating.

“Our Family Friendly Tours is a great way for parents and children alike to find out more about some of the wonderful characters who lived in or visited Bath hundreds of years ago. Through a combination of storytelling, dressing-up and hands-on history, we’re hoping to share these tales in a way that makes history more fun and more alive. We’d love for families going away from these tours to be able to say they’ve enjoyed themselves, and also to have learnt a little about the Abbey’s history, and to share their stories with others.”

Bath Abbey’s ‘Family Friendly Tours of the Memorial Stones’ are being held on Monday 23 October; Tuesday 24 October; Wednesday 25 October and Friday 27 October. Tours are free, no booking required, last approx. 40 minutes and begin quarter-past the hour each day at 10.15am, 11.15am, 12.15pm, 2.15pm and 3.15pm. The tours are free but all visitors are invited to give a donation at the entrance.  The activities are suitable for children over 7 and there is no need to book. However, please note there are limited places and it is on a first come first serve basis. 

Bath Abbey celebrates 20 years of Girls Choir

Bath Abbey Girls’ Choir is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. This milestone is being marked with a celebratory concert on 23 September at Bath Abbey in recognition of all that the choir has achieved since its inception.

The Abbey Girls’ Choir was founded in 1997 by Dr Peter King, Bath Abbey’s Director of Music from 1986-2016 and was one of the first girl choirs in the country at the time with Salisbury Cathedral having paved the way only six years earlier.

While remarkable in itself, there would have been the sound of female voices on the Abbey site long before 1997, and it could be said that the girl choristers are simply continuing a centuries-old choral tradition, which plays a vital part in the musical life of the Abbey and the city of Bath. In AD 676 there was a community of women worshipping in Bath in a convent run by Abbess Bertana and the site would have been filled with the sound of female voices as the girls and women sang their services.

Therefore, it is only fitting that as well as celebrating 20 years of the Abbey Girls’ Choir, the concert will be drawing inspiration from the generations of women in the Christian faith. The Abbey Girls’ Choir will sing the hauntingly beautiful music of Hildegard of Bingen from the 11th Century and a special commission by well-known composer Judith Bingham ‘The Sleeping Soul’ with words by the 13th century female mystic St Mechthild of Magdeburg. There will be texts by women – notably from Mother Julian of Norwich and the Magnificat (the song of Mary). Other music includes Schubert Psalm 23, Brahms’ Ihr habt nun traurigkeit (written in memory of his mother), Grieg’s Ave Maris Stella, Bruckner’s Ave Maria and music by Mathias, Stanford, Britten and Mendelssohn.

Huw Williams, Bath Abbey’s Director of Music, said: “Since joining the Abbey earlier this year I have been impressed with the quality of the Abbey Girls Choir and am delighted to be part of the 25th anniversary celebrations. We are immensely proud to have been one of the first churches in the country to introduce a girls’ choir. While almost every English Cathedral now has a girls’ choir, at the time it was a real innovation and to this day remains a remarkable achievement by my predecessor, Dr Peter King. whose original vision of a girls’ choir at Bath Abbey crowned his distinguished career here
“Occasions like this also allow us to celebrate our choristers as well as to thank all those who have helped champion and supported our Girls Choir over the years, benefactors, friends and family all included. As a former choir parent myself, I recognise that there’s a lot required of parents and guardians, and that it’s greatly appreciated. It will also be an opportunity for a wonderful reunion as we are hoping many of our former girl choristers, family and friends will be joining us for this very special event. We also plan to honour Dr Peter King’s contribution in some way.”

Tickets for the concert celebrating the Bath Abbey Girls’ Choir’s 25th anniversary on Saturday 23 September at 7.00pm in the Abbey are available from the Bath Box Office. Tickets are priced at £10, £12 and £15.

To read the press release in full click here.

Rector of Bath Abbey to retire after 13 years

The Rector of Bath Abbey, the Revd Prebendary Edward Mason, has announced that he will be retiring later this year after 13 years in this role. He will continue to serve the Abbey’s congregation and the city of Bath until his retirement in January 2018.

More details about Edward’s final service at the Abbey will be released nearer the time.

In addition to his role as Rector, Edward is also a Chaplain to Her Majesty The Queen. He will continue to serve in this role after his retirement.
On announcing his retirement to the Abbey community, Edward said, “I have enjoyed my time here at Bath Abbey and in Bath immensely. Being rector of this busy, thriving church in the heart of Bath has been a wonderful experience and a privilege. In my 13 years as rector, the Abbey has undergone many changes and it will continue to do so in order to adapt to and meet the needs of the community. There is now a very strong team, both lay and ordained, staff and volunteers, here at the Abbey and I am confident that the Abbey will continue to thrive under their guidance.”

"The timing is also right on a personal level. My wife and I have our sixth grandchild on the way, so I will be busier than ever! I also expect to continue serving the church in other ways. My passion has always been for sharing the Christian message and I hope to have more time to focus on specific interests, especially supporting the church in the Holy Land and opportunities for broadcasting. I don’t believe that Christians ever retire from learning about their faith and being a follower of Jesus Christ. As soon as you leave one responsibility something else appears. There will be opportunities between now and January to say more, but my overwhelming sense is a deep gratitude for the privilege of serving amongst you all.”

Edward was appointed as Rector of Bath Abbey in 2004. From being Director of Music at a comprehensive school in Gloucestershire, Edward and his wife Hilary spent six years in Uganda with their family as Mission Partners with the Church Mission Society working as Christian educators.  He was ordained in 1991 and has served in both inner-city and suburban contexts.

The process to nominate his successor will be led by the Bishop of Bath and Wells and will start in January after Edward’s retirement.

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, the Rt Revd Peter Hancock says, “Edward has overseen a great many changes at Bath Abbey in his time as Rector, not least as a driving force behind the innovative Bath Abbey Footprint project which will open up the Abbey to more people, enrich worship and reduce the Abbey’s carbon footprint. Over the years he has wisely shepherded and served  the Abbey congregation and the wider community, ensuring the Abbey has a special place - spiritually as well as physically - at the heart of the city. 

“There will be opportunities before January for us to mark and celebrate Edward’s ministry. Today may I simply express my sincere thanks to Edward for all he has done and wish both Edward and his wife, Hilary well as they prepare for this new chapter.”

Bath Abbey’s historic ledger stones recorded by volunteers

More than 50 volunteers have signed up to help record Bath Abbey’s historic ledgerstones, ahead of a long-term project to restore the Abbey’s floor which is collapsing.

Ledgerstones are flat stones placed in the floors of mainly parish churches which usually bear an inscription of the name and date of the person who is buried there. Many also include interesting inscriptions about the person, their family and their life in the local community.

In partnership with The Ledgerstone Survey of England and Wales (LSEW), the Abbey aims to record all 891 of its ledgerstones, some dating back to the 17th century, before these are lifted temporarily in order to repair the floor and secure the foundations beneath.

This Autumn, building work will start inside the Abbey as part of the Footprint project, a £19.3 million programme supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund to secure the Abbey building and improve its hospitality, worship and service to the city. However, before any of the planned building work including floor repairs can begin, all 891 of the historic ledgerstones in the Abbey will need to be recorded accurately. This will ensure that once the stone floor has been successfully repaired and re-laid, each individual ledger stone is put back properly and in the right place.

In addition, the ledgerstone recording will also form the basis for new trails, tours and experiences for visitors developed as part of the Footprint programme.

Charles Curnock, Bath Abbey’s Footprint Project Director, said: “The ledgerstone recording signals the start of a really exciting time as the Footprint project moves up another gear. Many churches have a similar problem with their floor but with the Abbey being an especially busy church, together with the urgent need to repair the floor, recording the ledgerstones is increasingly a priority for us. Most of the ledgerstones have been hidden beneath pews for nearly 180 years. By the end of this project, this important part of our city’s heritage will be available to be newly appreciated by and preserved for future generations. We urge local people to discover more about the Abbey’s historic floor and see first-hand the work taking place.”

To read the press release in full click here

Butterflies swarm Bath Abbey

Last summer saw Bath Abbey filled temporarily with hundreds of colourful paper butterflies as part of the city-wide Forest of the Imagination Festival. The Abbey will see the return of these exotic creations on Wednesday 8th February in a year-long installation by Bath-based artist, Anthony Head.

iMigration 2 by Anthony Head is a large-scale sculpture, a swarm of colourful paper butterflies, spanning five metres and suspended ten metres up in the air in the Abbey’s South Transept.

The first impression for visitors is of a single group, a swarm of creatures that appear to be the same. However, on closer inspection, the viewer will discover that each butterfly is unique, with its own digital genetic code and individual wing pattern influenced by random mutations.


The artist, Anthony Head, explains: “iMigration 2 explores the themes of migration, diversity and individuality. In the swarm, each butterfly is unique, created with a variety of technologies and featuring colour and patterns designed using computer coding, influenced by the mathematics of nature. The butterflies will move gently in the air currents that fill the Abbey as if travelling on a migration. 

To read the press release in full click here.


James Irvine was clerk of works under Sir George Gilbert Scott during the restoration of Bath Abbey in the 1860s-1870s.  Irvine left a large collection of sketches, architectural drawings, and notes that tell a fascinating story of his work on many different buildings. His archive, which is kept in Bath Central Library, includes two boxes of papers about the restoration of Bath Abbey.  Although many people have looked at these papers, they have not been systematically listed until now.  In the autumn of last year, Catherine Chambers volunteered to take on this task, and with the kind help of Anne Buchanan, the Librarian at Bath Central Library, completed her list at the beginning of this year. 

Catherine has offered to talk about her work on the collection and to show some documents.  As Bath Abbey begins its Footprint project, following in the steps of Gilbert Scott, come and find out what the Irvine papers tell us about the Scott restoration, and how they might help the Abbey in its new and ambitious restoration project.

To find out more, join our short talk and mini-exhibition on 14th February at 1pm in the Downstairs Meeting Room, No. 9 Kingston Buildings. Please book a place by contacting Anna Riggs  (01225 303322)

For more information on Footprint, please click here.


Andrew and Christina Brownsword, via The Brownsword Charitable Foundation, have agreed to give £500,000 in match funding towards Bath Abbey’s Footprint project in order to encourage local businesses and organisations to support the project and raise £1 million.

The Footprint project is a programme of capital works and interpretation that will secure the Abbey’s physical future and improve its hospitality, worship and service to the city. After nearly a decade of planning, consultation and development work, building work will start this Autumn. However, the Abbey still needs to complete its major fundraising appeal in order for the building work to take place. This is where the Brownswords have stepped in.

The Footprint Appeal was set up to raise £19.4 million for the Abbey’s ambitious and transformative programme. Thanks to a grant of £10.7 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and additional funds from private individuals and trusts, as well as the Abbey’s own congregation and visitors, the Abbey now has just over £1 million left to raise.

Charles Curnock, Footprint Project Director, said: “We are extremely  grateful to the Brownswords for stepping in with their generous offer. By pledging half a million in match funding towards the Footprint Appeal, they are giving added motivation and a real impetus to our fundraising appeal. We hope businesses and individuals will join in and will be more inclined to give once they know that match funding is offered.

To read the press release in full, click here.

A Nativity is not just for Christmas

Just because Christmas Day is now over for another year does not mean the Nativity scene has been forgotten. Bath Abbey is delighted that it will continue to display its unique Nativity exhibit, designed by local students, until Candlemas on Thursday 2 February.
Last year the Abbey ran a competition with Bath Spa University to create a Nativity with a difference for the Abbey’s beautiful Birde Chapel. Because the Abbey attracts thousands of visitors from all around the world, they wanted a three dimensional -artwork that would communicate the Christmas story to an international audience and that would work within the space of a chapel principally dedicated to private prayer.
First, second and third year students from Bath Spa University’s Three Dimensional Design course competed in teams to design a contemporary artwork for display in the Abbey’s Birde Chapel. The chosen winner, ‘Nativity Mobile’ presents the characters of the Nativity story and their relationships with one another and with Christ at the centre. It is in the form of a mobile, with suspended, gently moving figures.

To read the press release in full click here


Bath Abbey fundraising auction raises £9,000 for Footprint project

The first contemporary art auction held at Bath Abbey has raised £9,000 for the Footprint project.

The auction, held on Wednesday November 23, was organised by David Simon, owner of a contemporary art gallery in Bath.

Former Sotheby’s auctioneer Freya Mitton gave up her time to auction work from artists including Eileen Cooper RA, Nick Cudworth, Robert Cary-Williams, Luke Frost, Peter Brown, Emma Rose, Ben Hughes and Diana Matthews.

David Simon, who has dedicated every minute of his spare time over the last three months, on this project, said: “I’m delighted that we raised so much money and I’d like to thank all the artists who donated their work – the quality and variety of art donated was just wonderful. I’d also like to thank everyone who came along to support the auction, especially our bidders. This contemporary art auction is just one small thing that I can do to help make Footprint - a really great thing – become a reality.”

The Footprint project is one the country’s most significant church projects and will transform the Abbey’s facilities for the community and for worshippers. The Footprint project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Charles Curnock, Director of Bath Abbey’s Footprint project, said: “We are enormously grateful to David Simon for organising the auction, to all the artists involved and those who came along to support us. Footprint will enable us to improve how we inspire, engage with and serve our congregation, our community and our visitors. Thanks to Heritage Lottery funding of over £10 million granted earlier this year, and many other generous benefactors, there is now less than £1 million left to raise of the project’s £19.3 million total.”

Sharon Stevenson, Bath Abbey’s Fundraising Officer, said: “Bath Abbey, which is open to worshippers, schools, concert-goers and a whole variety of other visitors 364 days of the year, is in urgent need of repair and transformation. The Footprint project will help us to transform our facilities for the future. Thanks to the generosity of all these talented artists, David Simon, and all of those who came along to support our auction, we will be one step closer to making Footprint a reality.”


Tribute to the Ropers

For those familiar with the Abbey, you might have spotted a new engraving in the North aisle. This is a special tribute to Brian and Margaret Roper who have demonstrated such generous support of the Abbey and many organisations and charities in Bath. The stone was unveiled in the presence of over 120 business leaders who joined us for a business lunch on the day of the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Charles Curnock, the Abbey’s Footprint Project Director, said: “We are honoured to have had such a good relationship with Brian and Maggie. Like many in Bath, we have been touched and humbled by their tremendous generosity. Their lifelong support of and tireless contribution to so many our city is hopefully recognised by this engraving.”

This beautiful engraving was by sculptor, Iain Cotton, who also engraved the Cotswold Way Marker Stone, in front of the Abbey’s west doors.

We will be paying a full tribute to the Ropers in the new year along with an exciting announcement about Footprint fundraising so watch this space.

Footprint project PHASE 1 Excavations

As part of the Abbey’s Footprint project, some initial excavation work is being carried out just outside the Abbey shop on Kingston Parade from November 2016 to March 2017. This work will provide some much needed storage space in the short and longer term.

The work will not impact on our worship and events programme in the Abbey or Abbey Shop opening times over the next few months. We have also worked closely with Bath Tourism Plus to minimise the impact on the Christmas market. A small number of chalets have been relocated to Kingston Parade but there has been no effect on the number of chalets showcasing at this year’s market.

We are grateful to everyone for their patience and understanding while this work is carried out.

Footprint is a £19.3 million project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to secure the Abbey for future generations; this will include repairing and restoring the Abbey floor; tapping into Bath’s hot springs to create a sustainable heating system, and creating a new underground centre for community use.

Find out more at


We are delighted to announce that the new Director of Music will be Huw Williams.
Huw is an organist, conductor and composer of international reputation and has 20 recordings as accompanist with The Sixteen and with St Paul’s and Hereford Cathedrals' Choirs and broadcast live on television and radio as both director and accompanist.  Huw is currently Director of Music at Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal, St James’s Palace.
Huw has worked extensively in the UK, USA, Africa and in Europe as a conductor, organ soloist and accompanist. He has performed with many British orchestras including the London Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, Philharmonia, and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.
Born in Swansea, a graduate from Christ’s College, Cambridge and the Royal Academy of Music he became Assistant Organist at Hereford Cathedral in 1995. In 1998 he moved to St Paul’s Cathedral where for ten years, as the principal organist, he played for all the major recordings and broadcasts and worked daily with the world famous choir.  In recognition of his work in the musical world he was awarded the Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in 2001 and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.  
Subject to Contract and Safeguarding, Huw will take up his appointment at the Abbey in January 2017.  
During the busy months from September to December, the Abbey music will be in the safe hands of Shean Bowers.  Shean will be reducing his schools work to give time for rehearsal of the Abbey choirs and working with the clergy team in planning music for both Sundays and the frequent festivals of that period.  I am confident that the Abbey community will support Shean and offer both practical help and significant encouragement to him and the other Abbey musicians.
Huw says:  "I'm really looking forward to joining the community at Bath Abbey and working with the staff and wonderful choirs there. Dr Peter King has left an outstanding legacy with consistently high quality music making and I'm thrilled to be joining you."
So already we find ourselves walking in a new landscape together.  There will be new opportunities and challenges.  As always this demands prayer and a holy discernment of what is good and true.  Please pray for Shean, and for Huw as he prepares to come to Bath.
The Revd Prebendary Edward Mason


Bath Abbey’s Footprint project, an ambitious and transformative programme of works planned to secure the Abbey’s physical future and open it up to the community, took a huge step forward this week, as it announced its success in its latest bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), unlocking £10.7 million of funding.

This grant will help fund the physical work needed to the fabric of the Abbey and provide the space to enable the Abbey’s facilities for education and for music to be developed. The project will make a major impact on the ability of the Abbey to fulfil the various roles that it plays for the city of Bath and the surrounding region. The success of this application means that the Heritage Lottery Fund is confident in Bath Abbey’s plans and believes that a high-quality project will be delivered.

Footprint will provide a stable, level and restored floor within the Abbey by filling voids caused by thousands of burials together with an innovative, eco-friendly hydrothermal heating system, using energy in the water from Bath’s famous hot springs. In addition, the HLF funding will enable the Abbey to realise exciting plans for a Discovery Centre and a Song School, two key resources that will enable the Abbey to better serve both the residents of Bath and the hundreds of thousands of visitors it welcomes every year.

The Reverend Prebendary Edward Mason, Rector of Bath Abbey, said: “We are all delighted to learn that we have secured this support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This is great news for the Abbey, the city and the region and also for those who have personally put so much time, effort and money into the project. The Abbey has been at the centre of the Bath community for over 1,200 years and, thanks to the HLF, Footprint will enable it to continue serve current and future generations for hundreds of years to come.”

Nerys Watts, Head of HLF South West, said: “The great medieval Bath Abbey has a rich history and the innovative Footprint project will ensure that this special place can continue to play a vital role in the lives of the thousands of people who visit every year. Our support for the essential capital works, collections care and use of sustainable energy will bring the Abbey into the 21st century, enabling people from Bath and further afield to enjoy this special place long into the future.”

Charles Curnock, Director of the Footprint Project, said: “We are enormously grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for this wonderful grant. We can now believe that we really have a project. The grant also provides a fantastic boost to our remaining fundraising. In addition to other funds which have been so generously given, the total project cost of £19.3 million is now firmly within our sights – there is £1.5 million left to raise. We don’t however underestimate the effort which will still be needed to secure this funding; we do however very much appreciate all those who have helped the project to date in many different ways.

This final fundraising phase is now a chance for everyone to get involved. In particular we are collaborating with LocalGiving and the Bath Percent Club with the aim of raising £50,000 from friends and visitors – with the added bonus that every pound donated will be matched with another pound from the Bath Percent Club. This campaign is being run on LocalGiving’s secure online giving platform, meaning that everyone can keep a track of progress, and donate online, at Bath Abbey belongs to all the people of the city and we hope very much that local residents will want to leave their own footprint here for hundreds of years to come.”


Bath Abbey has announced that its long-standing Director of Music, Dr Peter King, who retires in August 2016 is to become Bath Abbey Director of Music Emeritus in recognition of this outstanding contribution to the music of the Abbey over many years.

Dr King has served as Director of Music since 1986, and has been described by colleagues as a “most distinguished holder of the post.” Under his leadership, the music programme of the Abbey expanded to include new choirs, including our Abbey Girls’ Choir. His work featured regularly on BBC Radio 3 and BBC TV, as well as numerous record releases, and helped raise the profile of the Abbey and our music programme for over a generation.

On the announcement, Reverend Prebendary Edward Mason, the Rector of Bath Abbey, said:

“It is with no small measure of sadness that I learned of Peter's decision to retire. Peter has been Director of Music at the Abbey since 1986 and has been a most distinguished holder of this important post. 

“Peter has been a pillar of the Abbey and we will be very sad to see him leave. We will pray for him as he adjusts to a new future, and ask all friends of the Abbey to join us in this.

“He is a superb organist in his own right as well as being a creative and inspirational director of the choirs. 

“We will concentrate on sustaining the excellence he has instilled in us all, and we will seek to build on all that has he has achieved over thirty years.”

Announcing his decision to colleagues at the Abbey, Dr King said:

 “During my time there have been many changes. The building of the new organ by Johannes Klais of Bonn, and the establishment of the Girls’ Choir, both in 1997, are just two achievements that have made me particularly happy, along with the development of the Boys’ Choir. Having been a choir boy myself, it has been equally important for me to maintain the tradition of a boys’ choir. Both the organ and the Girls’ Choir were quick to establish themselves as among the finest in the country. We have produced 8 albums with our choirs, and 12 on the organ; my Organ Concerto recording with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales was Editor’s Choice in both Gramophone Magazine and BBC Music Magazine. My recording of Poulenc’s Organ Concerto was the recommended performance in the “Building A Library” segment of BBC Radio 3’s CD Review last December, which along with the performance our choirs gave on the BBC One’s Christmas Day Service, made for a very nice Christmas!

“However, we have always looked to the future. Working with Shean Bowers, I helped establish the Schools Singing Programme which has brought the joy of the sung voice to a generation of children in Bath’s schools, and I am proud of the hard work Shean has put into it to make it the success it is.

“My brain says it is time to stop, though my heart hurts. Though I may be retiring as the Abbey’s Director of Music, I will not be retiring from music.”


Families are invited to join Bath Abbey on Saturday 12 March, between 10.30am to 1.30pm for a morning of fun, thoughtful, and messy activities on the theme of Easter.  We will be making hot cross buns, plantable paper, and crosses and stones for an Easter Garden, after which there will be a short celebration followed by lunch in the Abbey (which will be provided). 

Ollie Taylor, the Abbey’s Interpretation Officer, said:

“Messy Easter is a wonderful opportunity for families to spend a morning in the Abbey creating, baking, reflecting on the Easter story and having fun together.  It’s the first time we’ve offered this free session and I hope that many local families will come.  If you’ve not brought your family to the Abbey before this is the perfect opportunity to find out what we do.  I’m really looking forward to making hot cross buns in the Abbey and families who come can take away what they make too!”

The event is free but there will be a collection during the celebration.  The activities are suitable for children over 5 but there are limited places so you will need to book before the day.  Families are asked to contact the Abbey Office on or 01225 422462 to book their place. 


During February half term, Bath Abbey is running family friendly tours for children and the young at heart.  On the tours visitors will hear – and take part in – some fabulous stories and discover some of the hidden treasures of the Abbey along the way.  Guides will bring alive their favourite stories from the Abbey’s 1,300 year history and keep you entertained with little-known-facts.
These family friendly tours will be running on Tuesday 16th and Wednesday 17th February.  They begin at 10.15 each day and run hourly up to (and including one at) 16.15.  Each tour lasts 30 minutes.  Tours are free and can be booked on the day on a first come first served basis. 
The tours will take visitors from the very beginning of the Abbey’s story and the coronation of King Edgar in the Abbey in 973, through medieval and Tudor times, into the present day.
Visitors will be able to meet historical figures such as the Abbey’s Prior during medieval times, see re-enactments of many of the famous – and not-so-famous – names from the Abbey’s past and those buried within the Abbey’s walls, as well as Abbey staff who today are taking the Abbey into the future with the Footprint project.
Ollie Taylor, Interpretation Officer for Bath Abbey, said:
“These short tours are a fantastic opportunity for local families to have fun and discover more about the Abbey together.  They’ll be opportunities to see and hear some amazing stories from the Abbey but also to smell, taste, touch and take part in them too!  It’s the first time we’ve run these tours so why not be the first to bring your family to the Abbey for something fun, free, and new!”
Why not make a day of it? BANES Residents can use their Discovery Cards to get 2 for 1 entry for our Tower Tours!