Posted in Kafevend Blog
Have you ever drunk bath water? As a toddler, probably yes and lots of other unsavouries besides, but I'm being ambiguous of course! Today's blog is really about the mineral water of Bath Spa. Nevertheless, this wonderful quotation from Charles Dickens' 1836 novel, 'The Pickwick Papers', suggests that Bath Water isn't too far removed from bath water: 'Have you drank the waters Mr. Weller?' 'I thought they was particklery unpleasant,' replied Sam, 'I thought they'd a wery strong flavour o' warm flat irons.'
Intrigued, I paid the Roman Baths Museum a visit and tried the water for myself, and yes, I quite agree. Part of the problem stems from the fact that Bath has the hottest geothermal springs in the British Isles – 46°C on reaching the surface, so tasting the water at source does make for a rather odd experience. Secondly, the springs contain forty three different minerals, the most prevalent being sulphate, calcium and chloride. The adjoining Pump Room characterises the taste as unusual – a befitting description.
Legend tells us that the hot springs were discovered by Prince Bladud around 863BCE and that he was cured of his leprosy by bathing in them. Having been crowned king, Bladud founded a city at the site and dedicated it to the Celtic goddess, Sul. The Romans later called it Aquae Sulis, meaning the Waters of Sul and built a bathhouse complex and temple side by side. However, it was during the Georgian period that drinking the waters for their curative properties, as well as bathing in them, really began. Spa towns were the height of fashion and those rich enough to enjoy leisure time took full advantage.
These days, those with time and money can head over to Thermae Bath Spa on the aptly named Hot Bath Street and bathe in the geothermal waters themselves, but a piece of advice – take your own bottled water to drink if you get thirsty!