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Bath Abbey
Early 16th century

Notes in italics from North Somerset and Bristol by Nikolaus Pevsner  (1958)
Yale University Press, New Haven and London

Click on photos to enlarge


Begun in 1499. ... Bishop King had had a dream in which angels were ascending and descending a ladder from heaven and a voice said: 'Let a King restore the church'.  ... The church was incomplete by the time of the dissolution ... (but) is throughout quite exceptionally uniform in design.


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West front. West door of 1617. Statue of Henry VII above the doorway. The buttresses between nave and aisle fronts are decorated by the unique motif of ladders on which little angels ascend and descend. ...  Above the main window many (defaced) figures of angels in relief gathered round a statue of Christ seated.


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The crossing tower is much broader than it is long, and the surprising thing is that it has  no seriously upsetting effect. ... The transepts have no aisles and strike one as somewhat narrow in comparison with the spaciousness of nave and chancel. ... The nave is five bays long.


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The chancel is three bays long. The aisles have broad five-light windows, buttresses, battlements, and a parapet with pierced arcading. The clerestory windows ... are higher and have steeper arches. ... At the E end is a very tall seven-light window with three transoms and tracery below them. ...


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The interior is impressive in a wholly unpicturesque and also unmysterious way. The light is even, there is (now, not from the beginning) no break at all from W end to E end ... The arcade is not high. The piers are not specially slender. ... Tall clerestory - that is a tendency to even proportion between lower and upper stage.


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Nave Crossing Chancel Transept Aisle

The finest piece of architecture is the fan-vault extending throughout aisles, chancel and nave. ... The fans are constructed in ribs and panels. The smaller aisle vaults have pendants. The tower vault dates from the time of Elizabeth I, and the transept vault from that of James I. The nave received its fan-vaults only in the C19.


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At the east end, reredos 1875. ... In the south transept: Lady Waller, died 1633. One of the few earlier monuments in the Abbey. Alabaster and touch. She lies; her husband in a half-seated position behind her. Two children seated frontally at head and foot, behind the big black columns which carry a pediment.


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