Welcome to the Roman Baths Blog!

This blog is a behind the scenes look at the Roman Baths in Bath. We hope you enjoy reading our stories about life surrounding the Roman Baths.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Collection Volunteers Day Out 2012

At the Roman Baths Museum we have a wide variety of people behind the scenes volunteering with us. We have students studying or wanting to study archaeology, history or classics; people who are looking to expand or improve their CVs and those simply dedicated to improving the archaeological record and access to collections.

Just a few of our dedicated team of volunteers/interns and placements
Our team of volunteers dedicate many hours to helping us improve museum records through documentation and research, each come with their own skills and learning objectives to work towards. Together we work to ensure better public access and interpretation of the Roman Baths collections, and in return for their hard work we offer them an invaluable experience in a very busy, vibrant work environment.

Working with Combe Down Stone Mine material
In recent times, our volunteer team has helped to process and move archaeological material relating to projects such as the Keynsham Town Hall Redevelopment and the Combe Down Stone Mine Project. They have been out in the field in Bathwick helping the archaeologist process material from one of the most exciting digs in Bath in the last 10 years. Currently, they are working towards the creation of our Festival of British Archaeology event at Chew Magna on Saturday 14th July, and the Tuesday Timetables that start on Tuesday 24th July.

As a big thank you for all of their hard work, we reward them with an annual outing; this year we visited Corinium Museum in Cirencester and Chedworth Roman Villa. It was a lovely day (fortunately the rain held off) and good fun was had by all.

Time to play - The Mosaic Room at Corinium Museum

A big THANK YOU to all you guys for your hard work.

For more information on the Festival of British Archaeology Event follow this link:

http://www.romanbaths.co.uk/whats_on/events1.aspx   or


For more information on Tuesday Timetables follow this link:


If you are interested in volunteering with us please follow this link:


Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Connecting Collections - Lovely Jubilee!

This year the Queen celebrated her Diamond Jubilee, and here at the Baths we also celebrated – not just with a long weekend, but also with a Jubilee-centric temporary display!

The display has a selection of various objects, some from the museum collection, and others on loan from the Bath Record Office and the Victoria Art Gallery. This is because our collection doesn’t have many items that are associated with Queen Elizabeth II, which did at first cause a small problem in creating an interesting display…

The official logo of the 2012 Diamond Jubilee, the winning design of a national competition, was created by 10-year-old Katherine Dewar
Fortunately, the Bath Record Office has plenty of eye catching material. We were able to borrow a number of items, including a folder of photographs from Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and the original Daily Mail 1952 Coronation Day Special newspaper, printed in golden ink! This actually became the centrepiece for the display, but there was so much other material that could have been used, most of which was glued into large leather-bound books from the Mayor’s Office, so couldn’t be removed. These included programmes, leaflets and invitations to events, all relating to jubilee or coronation celebrations held in Bath in years gone by. In order to include all of these items, I scanned them and created a digital collage that was printed onto the backboard of the display.

The Victoria Art Gallery have also kindly loaned us a mug, commemorating Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, and an ink on glass silhouette of George III, painted by Hamlet, who was local to Bath. These are interesting because they highlight the other significant jubilees of the monarchy – George III being the first to celebrate 50 years on the throne in 1809, and Queen Victoria having the first Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

The finished display case
From our own collection, I chose to display the Pump Room visitor book that was signed by Queen Elizabeth II, and a selection of medals and commemorative coinage that were made to celebrate various jubilees. These included George III and Queen Victoria, but also Bath Temperance Society and Pope Pius IX, Jubilee celebrations that had nothing to do with the monarchy! The newest acquisition in the collection was also purchased for this display, a 2012 Diamond Jubilee Commemorative £5 coin, produced by the Royal Mint.

The finishing touch was provided by a string of Union Jack bunting, which must have inspired someone, because I saw it everywhere over the weekend!

Zosia - Collections Intern

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Art Inspiration

I think my past blogs have served as clear evidence that art is a great part of who I am. Over the past couple of years my time associated with the Roman Baths has not only expanded my talents but opened doors for my own work.

Before I started working here the Victorian Art Gallery was alien territory for me, and this is coming from a wannabe artist. From the first time I visited that place I began looking up all the future exhibitions they held, drawn to one annual event in particular: The Bath Society of Artists Open Exhibition; a chance for artists both amateur and professional to have their work on display for all the public to see.

Admittedly I was hesitant to submit some work for consideration last year. I can only imagine how much of a big step it is for any up-and-coming artist, and it took the encouragement of all my colleagues in the Collections office before I got two of my pieces together: a portrait painting of actress Karen Gillan and an experimental form of art known as “Cybermen at Arms”. The portrait was rejected sadly but “Cybermen…” officially became the first piece of art I had created to be on display at an exhibition, and considering that it was among the 350 chosen from an original 700 submitted I felt rather privileged, even if it didn’t sell.

Cybermen at Arms

Earlier this year, the next exhibition came round, and following the success of “Cybermen at Arms’” I produced two new paintings from my range of ‘Parody Art’: “Penguin Product Placement” and “Towing and Reckless Driving is Serious”. Based on “Cybermen’s…” uniqueness I had hoped that at least one of those pieces would make it through, so imagine my surprise when I learned shortly after the submission that BOTH paintings were accepted. Sadly I still fell short of my first sale and a category award has still eluded my grasp.

Penguin Product Placement

It may be some time before I get any awards or recognition, but just being able to say that three of my paintings were selected for an exhibition means I can walk away with my head held high, until I have to put it down again while I brainstorm new ideas.

Towing and Reckless Driving is Serious
James Read - Collections Volunteer

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Connecting Collections – Spa Treatment Centre Equipment

St. John’s Store is home to a wide variety of objects including furniture, retired models and spa equipment. This three part series will look at the history of the building, the spa related objects and the furniture collection.

Part 3 - Spa Treatment Centre Equipment

The hot waters of Bath have long been used for the therapeutic treatment of medical ailments, over the years a variety of recreational baths and hospitals have sprung up, all tapping into the natural resource of the warm mineral water from the hot springs.

One such place was The Spa Treatment Centre which opened in 1870 offering a series of luxurious treatments for those who could afford it. The centre grew in popularity and demand during the late 1800s and early 1900s offering treatments for all different kinds of ailments from simple aches and pains, to sciatica and rheumatism and in extreme cases permanent disabilities.

Many of the treatments are still used today but in different forms; the sauna is often seen in gyms and the aeration bath (see below) was the precursor to the modern day Jacuzzi.......

The spa equipment came into the Roman Baths collection after the closure of the Spa Treatment Centre in 1983.

Vichy Bath and Douche
This Victorian invention was named after the spa town in France. The treatment consisted of a massage under a series of shower heads.

“So great had been the demand for this treatment that a further Vichy suite has just been added to the Royal Baths.” The Book of Bath, 1920’s

BATRM 2000.11.1 Vichy Bath and Douche

Needle Douches
A needle douche is an all-round shower which produces fine needle-like jets of spring water. It was one of many treatments available at the Spa Treatment Centre from the 1870s to 1976.

BATRM 1986.491 Needle Douche

Walking Frame
Late Victorian wooden and brass walking frame. The brass frame has four small wheels supporting the solid wooden base. Used by patients in the Spa Treatment Centre.

BATRM 1986.491.47 Walking Frame

Aeration Bath
A deep bath that worked like a modern Jacuzzi. There are a series of pipes in the bottom of the bath which supplied the spring water at high pressure. The bather would lie on a wooden board and back rest.

BATRM 1986.606 Aeration Bath

The store is open to the public several times a year, with the next store open day on Saturday 9th June 2012 from 11am until 3pm. Please do come along and visit us – for more information and directions please follow this link