Bath Abbey has been the centre for Christian faith in the UNESCO City of Bath for more than 1300 years. The Footprint Project ensures that it remains so for future generations, through repair and conservation work and much-needed new facilities.
The £19.3 million programme of restoration, building works and interpretation will help to secure the Abbey’s physical future and improve its accessibility, sustainability, hospitality, and service to the city, as well as providing flexibility for worship.
Within the Abbey, the main focus was the repair and conservation of the historic floor, whose stones include more memorials than any other church or cathedral in the UK. Extensive archaeological works uncovered c. 56,000 artefacts, adding to the story of the Abbey and the city. The relaid floor reveals this magnificent floor for the first time in 150 years.
The low carbon underfloor heating system uses waste heat from the City’s natural thermal springs to provide much improved thermal comfort and a welcoming environment inside the Abbey.
Beneath the Abbey, in the Grade I listed historic pavement and adjacent Grade II listed Georgian terrace, new spaces have been created that will serve the Abbey and those who work in it. This included the repair of the Georgian buildings, but also creating a series of unexpected spaces for education, administration and a bespoke rehearsal studio for the 60-strong Abbey choir.
The Bath Abbey Footprint project helps to protect the internationally significant historic buildings for future generations, reduce their environmental impact and facilitate their ongoing relevance.
Initiated to conserve and stabilise the failing Abbey floor, the project also allowed for an extensive programme of archaeology and documentation to take place.
The works reveal all of the 891 carved memorial stones on the Abbey floor and show us the names of nearly 1500 people commemorated there. The stones represent a cross-section of Bath’s society from 1625 to 1845, including the important Georgian period chronicled by Jane Austen. The research, interpretation and conservation of the floor restores a crucial missing part of the story of Bath and its social history.
Read about the careful process of the recording, lifting, repair and relaying of Bath Abbey’s historic floor in Explore.
Naturally hot spring water, first harnessed and channelled by the Romans, is used to heat the Abbey sustainably.
As the spring water from the neighbouring Roman Baths runs through the Great Drain alongside the Abbey on its way to the River Avon, heat is captured and fed into an underfloor heating system, using natural energy to maintain a comfortable temperature within the Abbey.
Read more in our journal: Bath Abbey: just add water..!’
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