As the history of this sacred place stretches as far back as Anglo-Saxon times, there is a great deal to discover: tales of Kings and Queens, saints and sinners, as well as stories of ordinary people. Our timeline below gives an overview of the Abbey's history or you can read about people who have been involved with and influenced the Abbey over the years in our People and Stories.
The earliest record of a Saxon convent in Bath. Osric, a local king, gave lands near Bath to the Abbess Bertana.
The first mention of a monastery at Bath. Land was granted to the brothers of the monastery of St Peter in Bath.
King Offa of Mercia claims ownership of the Abbey at Bath.
Edgar is crowned King of all England in the Saxon Abbey. Archbishops Dunstan of Canterbury and Oswald of York perform the ceremony.
St Alphege is appointed head of the monastery at Bath by Archbishop Dunstan. He insists that the monks at the Abbey live more strictly. They must follow rules written in the 6th century by St Benedict of Nursia.
John of Tours, the Bishop of Wells, is given the monastery at Bath. He orders the building of a large new cathedral, which replaces the Saxon Abbey.
Bath and Wells are both given cathedral status. They are the most important churches in the area.
The beginnings of today’s Abbey church. Bishop Oliver King orders the building of a new church. The Norman cathedral built by John of Tours had fallen into disrepair.
King Henry VIII closes Bath Abbey and many other convents and monasteries. The monks are forced to leave the Abbey and it is left to decay.
The ruined Abbey church is given to the city of Bath to use as its parish church.
Queen Elizabeth I gives permission for a national collection to raise money for the restoration of the Abbey.
The restoration of the Abbey is completed.
The City of Bath asks George Phillips Manners, a local architect, to restore the Abbey. He makes several major changes to the building. The design of the towers is changed and flying buttresses are added. Inside the building, there is a new organ mounted on a screen, galleries, and extra seating.
The right to appoint the Rector of Bath Abbey is sold by the City of Bath to the evangelical Cambridge clergyman, Charles Simeon. Charles Simeon’s trustees still appoint the Rector.
A new cemetery is opened, designed by the landscape architect John Claudius Loudon. The Abbey no longer allows burials under its floor.
George Gilbert Scott begins a major restoration of the Abbey. The organ is moved to the north transept. Pews are put in throughout the building. The wooden ceiling over the nave is replaced with stone fan vaulting.
Sir Thomas Jackson restores the West Front of the Abbey. Some of the statues are replaced with new carvings.
A new chapel is created in memory of those who died in the First World War. It is called the Gethsemane chapel. A new Memorial Cloister is built on the south side of the Abbey. It is now the Abbey shop.
Sir Harold Brakspear redesigns the East End of Bath Abbey.
During the Second World War, Bath is bombed. 400 people are killed and 872 are wounded. St James’s Church is badly damaged. The Abbey is not hit, but a bomb falls nearby. The Great East window and the windows on the north side of the building are badly damaged.
The Friends of Bath Abbey is founded. The Friends aim to raise money for the restoration of the Abbey.
The Book of Remembrance is placed in the Abbey. It records the names of all civilians and military personnel from Bath who died in the Second World War.
The post-war restoration programme is completed. £100,000 is raised by the Friends of Bath Abbey.
Queen Elizabeth II visits the Abbey to mark the coronation of Edgar in 973. A commemorative stone is placed in the floor.
A restoration programme called Abbey 2000 begins. It includes the restoration of the West Front, cleaning the outside and inside, and building a new organ.
The Footprint project is launched. It aims to repair the historic floor, create new spaces including a Song School, install a new heating system, and create a new Discovery Centre to re-tell the story of the Abbey.