Bathed in Heritage – The London Roman Baths

The Roman Empire left its indelible marks on Britain with monuments such as the Stonehenge surviving in all their glory to this day. The Romans were also responsible for the expansion and development of London as a centre for trade and commerce, especially the City of London. What is not very well known about London today is that among other things; there is also a small bath which may have been in existence since the time of the Romans; albeit it is definitely inspired by the quintessential Roman practice of bathing and their belief that it is beneficial for health.

Image Courtesy: Kbthompson

Today, the baths are maintained well by the administration of the City of Westminster; on behalf of the National Trust. The Roman remains today attribute their existence to a refurbishment of the area which was done in the 17th century. The spring still runs at the rate of nine cubic metres a day.

While one may wish to stay in a part of London which is according to his or her preference, Kensington is an area which is optimally located in order for the visitor to be conveniently located to see all the London sights he or she wishes to see. Hotels in the Kensington area of London are not hard to find and are quite up market and one of these hotels; albeit one which still provides excellent value and service worth writing home about, is the Best Western Premier Shaftesbury Kensington hotel. This is a hotel which is located on Hogarth Road.

In regard to what to pack when travelling to London, it is strongly recommended that the traveller packs clothing factors in both the weather prevalent in London at the time of his or her visit and the weather the traveller is ordinarily used to. And of course, suitable wear to make use of the Roman Baths in London is warranted.

While they can be very hard to find; the Roman Baths are worth the effort invested in seeking them. Initially, there were aspersions cast as to their authenticity due to the fact that Roman London stood about a mile east of this part of the City of Westminster. However, there were Roman finds such as a coffin and pottery vessels.

The land which the baths lie on originally belonged to the Earl of Arundel and there is speculation that the baths were used in relation to Arundel house. It is said that the source of water for the baths and the Holy Well of St Clement Danes was mutual. In the world of fiction, the Roman Baths were used by David Copperfield; the character of the imagination of Charles Dickens.

While there was use made of the baths since the Romans departed from Britain, it was only after 1774, when they were discovered as a result of a fire, that they were used. It is interesting to note that in the late eighteenth century; in the year 1792, to be precise, a Member of Parliament died due to a cold he caught while bathing in the waters at the baths!

Another interesting fact about the baths is that the dimensions are more typical to the baths built during the time of the Tudors rather than the Roman era. However, the site has been a bathing site for about two thousand years; albeit not continuously.

In order to get to the baths one needs to make his or her way to the Aldwych Station which used to be on the Piccadilly Line but closed more than two decades ago. On passing the Norfolk Building, which is used by King’s College, following discreet signage, one will be going down the Surrey Steps, to head down on to the Strand Lane.

The black railings seen on this lane are the sign or so called ‘harbinger’ of one’s arrival at the Roman baths. If one wishes to visit the baths and at the same time, needs to use public transport to do so, the route master buses service this area of London well and both Heritage bus route numbers nine and fifteen make stops at the Strand. So, as mentioned previously, finding them is not an easy process!

One can bathe at the Roman Baths on the Strand by making an appointment, for a Wednesday, at least a week in advance between the end of the first week of April until the third week of October. If one can plan his or her schedule of the time to be spent in London in advance and is in the city during the season; the Roman Baths are well worth a visit…and a bath!

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