A Parish Church for Bath 1572 – 1616

In 1572 Matthew Colthurst’s son Edmund presented what remained of the church to the Mayor and the citizens of Bath, to be used as a parish church. Repairs to the church were started by Peter Chapman, whose memorial tablet may be seen in the north aisle.

Significantly it was Henry VIII’s daughter, Elizabeth I who made the restoration possible by supporting a national collection to raise money for the work. This was put in hand by wealthy citizens of Bath, and in particular, Thomas Bellot.

Bellot was steward to Elizabeth I’s statesman, Lord Burghley, and the executor of his estate. The sick and aged Burghley had visited Bath for its restorative waters at the end of his life. While they failed to restore him, he had become interested in the Abbey as a result of his visit, and so, his executor Bellot knew exactly what to do with his legacy.

Bellot spent lavishly on the Abbey both from Burghley's bequest as well as his own funds. James Montagu who was appointed Bishop of Bath in 1608 was responsible for repairing the roof over the nave and aisles with lead, with the underside made to look like stone. The impressive West Doors we see today were the gift of Bishop Montagu’s brother Henry, Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, while many other citizens of Bath gave money towards the work. All of their names were recorded at the time in the Abbey’s Book of Benefactors. By 1616 the building we have inherited was repaired and in use.  Services took place in the choir which was separated from the nave by a wooden screen provided by Bellot.

Britten's ground floor plan of the Abbey, 1825.