Saturday, 26 March 2011

Bath, England

I've said this before, but I really like the British Isles community on the postcrossing forum and keep wishing it had more members as that way I could get more UK cards. There's so much to see on these isles that postcards from around here are always very welcome in my mailbox. That, and the participants in that community are all very nice. I can't deny, though, that one of the reasons why I like to participate in that community is that it's cheaper to send postcards within the UK than to mail them overseas. Stamp prices are going up here again at the beginning of April, and this year the increase is bigger than usual - roughly 13%! According to the Royal Mail, UK stamp prices are still "amongst the lowest in Europe" that's not much of a consolation when the price of a stamp to Europe is going up from 60p to 68p, and rest of the world from 67p to 76p. :( Thankfully I have a lot of first class stamps in stock (the price of those is going up by 5p, but you can still use older ones :)) so I'll just need to buy the make up value stamps.

I would really, really love to visit Bath some time. When I was an exchange student here some years ago, the university's International Office actually organised a day trip to Bath, but I missed it as my parents were visiting me at the same time. ...although I can't really complain as I went to Liverpool with mum and dad and got to see a lot of those Beatles-related places in Liverpool, like Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane. :) Hopefully I'll get to visit Bath eventually, maybe once Matt gets his driving licence he could take me there if I paid for the petrol? Hmmmm...

The Roman Baths complex is a site of historical interest and also a Unesco site. The house is a well-preserved Roman site for public bathing. The Roman Baths themselves are below the modern street level. There are four main features: the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum holding finds from Roman Bath. The buildings above street level date from the 19th century.

The first shrine at the site of the hot springs was built by Celts, and was dedicated to the goddess Sulis, whom the Romans identified with Minerva. Geoffrey of Monmouth in his largely fictional Historia Regum Britanniae describes how in 836 BC the spring was discovered by the British king Bladud who built the first baths. Early in the eighteenth century Geoffrey's obscure legend was given great prominence as a royal endorsement of the waters' qualities, with the embellishment that the spring had cured Bladud and his herd of pigs of leprosy through wallowing in the warm mud.

The name Sulis continued to be used after the Roman invasion, leading to the town's Roman name of Aquae Sulis (literally, "the waters of Sulis"). The temple was constructed in 60-70 AD and the bathing complex was gradually built up over the next 300 years. During the Roman occupation of Britain, and possibly on the instructions of Emperor Claudius, engineers drove oak piles to provide a stable foundation into the mud and surrounded the spring with an irregular stone chamber lined with lead. In the second century it was enclosed within a wooden barrel-vaulted building,and included the caldarium (hot bath), tepidarium (warm bath), and frigidarium (cold bath). After the Roman withdrawal from Britain in the first decade of the fifth century, these fell into disrepair and were eventually lost due to silting up, and flooding. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle suggests the original Roman baths were destroyed in the 6th century.

The stamp is from a set of 8 stamps issued earlier this year, depicting London West End Musicals. This one here is 'We Will Rock You'.

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