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Timeline

675

Lands around Bath were granted to a ‘Convent of Holy Virgins’.The reference to this grant is in a much later charter, but may refer to the convent which is supposed to have been founded by Abbess Bertana.

757

A charter records a grant of land near Bath to the brothers of the Monastery of St Peter in Bath. At this point there may have been a convent and a monastery existing side by side.

781

King Offa of Mercia claims ownership of the abbey at Bath.The abbey and its lands had previously been held by the Bishop of Worcester.

973

Edgar is crowned King of all England in the Saxon abbey. Archbishops Dunstan of Canterbury and Oswald of York perform the ceremony.

980

St Alphege is appointed Abbot of the monastery at Bath by Archbishop Dunstan. His mission is to the reform the monastery which by this time had become very lax in its observance of the Benedictine Rule.

1088

John of Tours becomes Bishop of Wells. In 1091 he is granted lands including the monastery at Bath, and transfers his seat to Bath. In future the Abbey is run by the Prior, who is answerable to the Bishop.

1090

The foundation of the Norman cathedral.
Bishop John begins a building programme which includes additional monastic buildings and a huge cathedral to replace the Saxon abbey.

1244

Bath and Wells share cathedral status. Roger of Salisbury becomes the first Bishop of the joint diocese of Bath and Wells.

1499

The beginnings of the present-day Abbey. Newly appointed Bishop Oliver King is said to have a dream of angels ascending and descending into heaven, which inspires him to build a new Abbey church – the last great medieval cathedral to be built in England.

1539

King Henry VIII pushes ahead with the Dissolution of the Monasteries. On the 27 January 1539 Prior Holloway and eighteen monks surrender the Priory to the King’s officials and sign the Deed of Dissolution. The Abbey, and other monastic buildings and land, are sold to private individuals.

1560

Bath citizen Edmund Colthurst presents the abbey church to the City Corporation for use as a parish church. At this point in time the building is in decay: the nave has no roof, and the end wall of the south transept has fallen in.

1574

Queen Elizabeth I grants a licence permitting fundraising for the restoration of the still ruined Abbey. The principal benefactors are Thomas Bellot, steward to Queen Elizabeth’s Treasurer, and James Montagu, Bishop of Bath and Wells. Many private citizens from Bath donate money; and their names are recorded in a ‘Book of Benefactors’, still in the Abbey’s possession.

1611

The restoration of the Abbey is completed. It begins its service as a parish church for the city of Bath. At this point in time the Abbey is owned and administered by the City Corporation.

1833

Local architect George Manners is commissioned by the City Corporation to restore the Abbey.
Manners adds new pinnacles and flying buttresses to the exterior of the Abbey. Inside he builds a new organ on a screen over the crossing, more galleries over the choir and installs extra seating.

1836

The City Corporation sell the rights to the living for Bath Abbey to the evangelical Charles Simeon.
To this day the Simeon Trustees appoint the Rector of Bath Abbey, ensuring the transmission of a broadly low church tradition.

1844

Landscape architect John Claudius Loudon designs a new cemetery for the Abbey. The Abbey cemetery was consecrated on 23 January 1844; and the first burial took place on 12 February. The last people to be buried in the Abbey were the Hillicar sisters, who were buried in a family vault in the Abbey in January 1845.

1863

Sir George Gilbert Scott is commissioned by the Rector Charles Kemble to carry out a major restoration of the Abbey. The interior of the Abbey is transformed by their Victorian Gothic vision. The organ is removed from its position over the crossing to the north transept, pews are installed throughout the building and the wooden ceiling over the nave is replaced by the stone fan vaulting.

1899

Sir Thomas Jackson is commissioned to restore the West Front and the exterior stonework of the Abbey. A number of the figures on the West Front are replaced with new carvings, including the figure of St Bartholomew.

1919

Sir Thomas Jackson creates a memorial to those citizens of Bath who died in the First World War. The Norman chapel is reordered as a War Memorial Chapel. This chapel, dedicated in 1922, is now known as the Gethsemane chapel, continuing its longstanding theme of commemoration and reconciliation. A new War Memorial cloister is built on the south side of the Abbey next to the south transept, dedicated on Armistice Day, 1927.

1929

Sir Harold Brakspear redesigns the East End of the Abbey. He removes the Ten Commandments which had previously been visible on the far wall behind the Altar, adds pillars on either side with statues of St Alphege and St Dunstan, Bishops John of Tours and Oliver King.

1942

The ‘Bath Blitz’ takes place on the nights of 25, 26 & 27 April. In the city 400 people are killed, and 872 are wounded. St James’ Church in the city centre is almost completely destroyed. The blast from a bomb falling on the Recreation Ground blows out the Great East Window and all the windows on the north side of the Abbey.

1948

Foundation of the Friends of Bath Abbey and the launch of the post-war restoration programme. Queen Mary becomes the first ‘Friend’ and Patron. Their aim is to raise enough money to repair the war damage to the Abbey, but it soon becomes clear that there are many other longstanding repairs needing to be carried out. The Friends’ initial fund-raising target is £80,000.

1951

The Book of Remembrance is dedicated and put on display in the Abbey. This illuminated book is inscribed by Benjamin Maslen and records the names of all civilians and military personnel from Bath who died between 1939 and 1945. It can still be viewed in the Gethsemane chapel.

1960

The post-war restoration programme is completed.During this period the Friends of Bath Abbey raise £100,000. A service of thanksgiving is held on 23 March 1960 in the presence of the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

1973

Queen Elizabeth II visits the Abbey to mark the coronation of King Edgar in the Abbey in 973. A commemorative plaque is placed in the chancel floor.

1991

The Rector Richard Askew launches the Bath Abbey 2000 restoration programme.
The programme includes the restoration of the West Front, the cleaning and conserving of the interior and exterior stonework and installing the Klais Organ.

2007

The Abbey publishes its Vision Statement for 2007-2012.This lays out responsibilities, commitments and aspirations for all areas of ministry and worship.

2010

The launch of the Footprint Project - a major programme of capital works to provide improved facilities for worship, visitors and our service to the city.