What is in the Abbey Archives?
The archives of Bath Abbey are divided between the Abbey and Somerset Archives and Local Studies.
The papers kept at the Abbey cover, in summary:
- Records of works to the Abbey Church, organ, stained glass and lighting;
- Records of the major restorations of the Abbey in the 19th and 20th centuries
- Minutes, registers, burial records, title deeds, service sheets, choir records, newsletters and photographs.
- Deeds, photographs, and correspondence relating to properties owned by the Abbey, such as the Abbey cemetery in Widcombe and Abbey Church House in central Bath.
- A small number of records from St James’ Church, Bath which was destroyed by bombing in 1942, including press cuttings and photographs
- Papers of historians who have studied the Abbey
- Papers of Abbey clubs and societies
- The Abbey archives has copies and transcripts of baptism, marriage, and burial records. The originals are kept at Somerset Archives and Local Studies.
For detailed catalogues, download printouts from the links below. Or search the catalogues on the Somerset Archives and Local Studies online database.
Photos of our parish registers are available on the Ancestry website.
Catalogues of many of the archive collections belonging to the Abbey have been uploaded to the South West Heritage Trust online database.
Please note that not everything has yet been catalogued.
Download printouts of our catalogues here:
Resources for Family History
- Details of the memorials on the walls and floor of the Abbey are available on www.bathabbeymemorials.org.uk.
- Transcripts of the Abbey's baptism, marriage, and burial registers (1569 onwards) are available at Bath Record Office in the Guildhall.
- Searchable online indexes of our registers, with digital images, are available on the Ancestry web site. You can search Ancestry for free at most record offices, including the Bath Record Office.
- The Bath Burial Index is a database of information from records relating to over 50 cemeteries in Bath, including the Abbey Cemetery at Widcombe.
Names of members of the Gentlemens’ and Boys’ choirs are listed in the Abbey Yearbooks which run from 1896 to 1939, and an index of members of the Gentlemens’ and Boys’ choirs 1921-1996 is also held in the Abbey archives. As a result, it may be possible to check whether someone was a member of one of the Abbey choirs. However this would depend on the date, as the archives, unfortunately, do not hold continuous records of membership for the Abbey choirs, nor do they hold biographical information of former choir members.
The inscriptions on memorial stones are a great source for family historians, as they will sometimes contain information not found in the burial registers. They are particularly useful for tracing relationships between different family members.
- Wall Memorials and Ledgerstones. A new website bathabbeymemorials.org.uk contains a searchable database of our 1500 memorials and ledgerstones. Please use that as your first port of call and if you have further questions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is also available on a tablet at the Welcome Desk in the Abbey. Please ask staff for access to it.
- Ledgerstones Many of the floor memorials are covered by the pews, or are too worn to be legible. The Archives hold a book recording the inscriptions of all the nave floor stones which was made in 1874 when the pews were installed. We are also have an electronic list of all the ledgerstone inscriptions and the stewards in the Abbey have a copy of it.
The Book of Remembrance
The Book of Remembrance records the names, ages and addresses of all civilians and military personnel from Bath who were killed during World War II (1939-1945).
It is currently on display in the Gethsemane Chapel in the Abbey, and can be examined on request to a Verger.