|Roman? Tudor, more like!|
Saturday June 6, 2015.
This is one of the more unusual, hidden gems of the Unfinished City, that I had been eager to see for quite a while. The National Trust, who look after the Roman Bath, state that the you can visit at any time between 09:00 and dusk, to view the Roman Bath through a grill, but viewing of the interior must be made by contacting Westminster Council.
However, having visited on a number of occasions, the door has always been locked, except one time. On that visit, the window, through which you can view the interior, was so grimy that I couldn't make anything out. There is a light, that works on a timer, to illuminate the interior, but this was out of order. Maybe next time will be better.
The Roman Bath, in fact, dates from around the early 1600s, and is the last remaining part of a cistern, built to feed a fountain in the grounds of Somerset House.
Falling into neglect, following the destruction of the fountain, they were brought back to life as a public cold plunge bath, in the 1770s.
In 1838, a listing, in a trade directory, makes mention of Old Roman Spring Baths, and so the legend was born.
The National Trust took control of the site in 1947 and, after some much needed restoration, opened them to the public in 1951.
The Roman Bath is, once again, sorely neglected and I wonder if they will be restored, or updated, as a true visitor experience.