Into the 21st Century

It took the atrocities and casualties of the First World War to prompt the first addition to the footprint of the Abbey since the 16th century.

In 1919 the idea of raising money for a War Memorial Scheme was born. Sir Thomas Jackson was commissioned to reorder the Norman Chapel as a War Memorial Chapel (now the Gethsemane Chapel where an Amnesty candle burns on the altar), and to build a cloister on the south side of the Abbey to be used as a choir vestry. This is the part of the building which now forms the choir vestry and shop.

In the following decades it was repairs, rather than major structural changes, which were the order of the day. In 1942 the Abbey suffered minor blast damage to its windows from a bomb which fell on the nearby Recreation Ground.  After the war the opportunity was taken to carry out repairs which had been needed for many years. Between the years 1947 and 1960 extensive repairs were carried out to the roof timbers, stonework, stained glass, organ and bells.

By the end of the 20th century, major work to the fabric was necessary. The Bath Abbey 2000 restoration programme was launched in Oct 1991. From 1991 to 2000, six projects were carried out. These included restoration of the West Front, the cleaning of all the stonework inside and out, and the building of the new Klais organ. In 2008 the latest addition to the Abbey interior arrived, in the form of acoustic quire screens. These are a very welcome addition as quire screens had been planned since the 1860s, to provide a backdrop to the choir stalls and improve the acoustics of the building. These oak screens are beautifully decorated with a frieze of twelve carved angels playing musical instruments.