There is a legend that Bath was founded in 860 BC when Prince Bladud, father of King Lear, caught leprosy. He was banned from the court and was forced to look after pigs. The pigs also had a skin disease but after they wallowed in hot mud they were cured. Prince Bladud followed their example and was also cured. Later he became king and founded the city of Bath.
In reality it is not known exactly when the health giving qualities of Bath springs were first noticed. They were certainly known to the Romans who built a temple there around 50 AD. The temple was dedicated to Sul, a Celtic god and Minerva the Roman goddess of healing. (The Romans hoped to please everybody by dedicating it to both gods). They also built a public baths which was supplied by the hot springs.
In the 60s and 70s AD a town grew up on the site of Bath. It was called Aquae Sulis, the waters of Sul. In the late 2nd century a ditch was dug around Roman Bath and an earth rampart was erected. It probably had a wooden palisade on top. In the 3rd century it was replaced by a stone wall.
In the 4th century Roman civilization began to decline. The population of Roman towns decreased and trade shrank. The last Roman soldiers left England in 407 AD. What happened to Bath afterwards is not known for certain. Some people probably continued to live within the Roman walls and Bath was probably still a market for the local area. However the old, grand Roman buildings fell into disrepair and were replaced by simple wooden huts.
After the Romans left the Saxons invaded Eastern England. In 577 AD they won a battle at Dyrhan. They then captured Bath, Cirencester and Gloucester. The Saxons took over the settlements and life went on.
In the late 9th century Alfred the Great created a network of fortified towns across his kingdoms called burghs (from which we derive our word borough). If the Danes attacked all the local men could gather in the nearest burgh to fight them. Bath was one such burgh. By the 10th century it had a mint. So by that time Bath must have been a flourishing, although small, community. In 973 Edgar, the first king of all England was crowned in Bath.
In 1088 a rebellion occurred. The rebels sacked Bath and burned the monastery but the town soon recovered. The local Bishop moved his seat to Bath and in the early 12th century a great abbey was created which dominated Medieval Bath. The present building dates from the very end of the Medieval period. Oliver King was Bishop of Bath and Wells from 1495 to 1503. In 1499 he dreamed of angels ascending and descending ladders to Heaven. He heard a voice telling 'a king' to restore the church. The Bishop took the dream to mean he should rebuild the abbey.
During the Middle Ages the church also ran 2 almshouses in Bath, St John the Baptist's and St Catherine's. There was also a leper hostel outside the town walls. During the Middle Ages people still came to Bath to bathe in the hot springs hoping it would cure them of their ailments.
In 1189 Bath was given its first charter (a document granting the townspeople certain rights). The main industry in Medieval Bath was the manufacture of woolen cloth. The wool was spun. It was then fulled, that is it was pounded in a mixture of water and clay to clean and thicken it. Wooden hammers worked by a watermill pounded the wool. The wool was then stretched on tenterhooks to dry. It was then dyed.
Henry VIII closed Bath abbey in 1539. Most of its buildings were then demolished.
During the 16th and 17th century the wool trade in Bath slowly declined. Increasingly Bath came to rely on sick people coming to bathe in the springs, hoping for a cure. It received a boost in the early 17th century when Anne of Denmark, wife of James I, came hoping to be cured of dropsy.
In 1590 Queen Elizabeth gave Bath a new charter. From then on Bath had a mayor and aldermen. There were some improvements in the little town. Bellots almshouses were built in 1609. In 1615 a 'scavenger' was appointed to clean the streets of Bath. In 1633 thatched roofs were banned because of the risk of fire.
However like all 17th century towns Bath suffered from outbreaks of the plague. It struck in 1604, 1625, 1636 and 1643.
In 1642 came civil war between king and parliament. In 1643 Bath was occupied by parliamentary troops. In July 1643 they fought a battle against the royalists north of the town. The royalists were victorious. The parliamentary army withdrew from the area and the royalists occupied Bath. However by 1645 the king was losing the civil war. In July 1645 the royalist commander in Bath surrendered to parliament.
In the late 17th century Bath continued to be a quiet market town. It largely depended on its springs. From 1661 Bath water was bottled and sold.
In the 18th century Bath became a much more genteel and fashionable place. It boomed in size. This was largely due to the efforts of Richard 'Beau' Nash 1674-1762 who was made Master of Ceremonies. Many fine buildings were erected in Bath in the 18th century. A Pump Room was built in 1706 (although the present one was built in 1795).
Architect John Wood the Elder 1704-1754 built Queen Square in 1728-1739. He built The Circus in 1754-60. His son John Wood the Younger was born in 1727. He built Royal Crescent in 1767-1774. He also built Assembly Rooms in 1769-71. The Octagon was built in 1767 and Margaret Chapel was built in 1773.
Pulteney Bridge was built in 1774. It was named after William Pulteney the first Earl of Bath and it was designed by Robert Adam.
From 1718 attempts were made to pave and properly clean the streets of Bath and to light them with oil lamps. A general hospital was built in Bath in 1742 and the first bank in Bath opened in 1768. Sydney Gardens opened in 1795.
During the Summer Georgian Bath was full of rich visitors. They played cards, went to balls and horse racing, went walking and horse riding. However the high life was only for a small minority. There were a great many poor people in Bath, as there were in every town. Despite the fine architecture there was also plenty of squalor and overcrowding in Bath.
In the late 18th century the great astronomer William Herschel lived in Biath.
In 1801 Bath had a population of 33,000. By the standards of the time it was a large and important town. However during the 19th century Bath lost its importance. It doubled in size but the new industrial towns grew at a much faster rate. Bath remained a market town, popular with tourists and shoppers.
The Theatre Royal was built in 1805. The Kennet and Avon canal opened in 1810. Royal Victoria Park was laid out in 1830 and Parade Bridge was built in 1835.
Bath was linked to Bristol by rail in 1840 and to London by rail in 1841.
Like all cities in the 19th century Bath was a dirty and unsanitary place and it suffered an outbreak of cholera in 1849.
However conditions improved later in the 19th century. From 1880 horse drawn trams ran in the streets of Bath. Also in 1880 the old Roman baths were rediscovered. The first electric streetlights in Bath were switched on in 1890. Henrietta Park opened in 1897.
By the beginning of the 20th century the population of Bath had grown to over 65,000.
From 1904 electric trams ran in the streets of Bath but in 1939 they were replaced by buses.
The first council houses in Bath were built in 1907. More were built in the 1920s and 1930s (many of them to replace slums) and more still after 1945.
Bath was bombed during the Second World War. A raid in April 1942 killed 21 people and damaged or destroyed 1,500 buildings.
The American Museum opened in 1961. The Museum of Costume was founded in 1963. Bath University was founded in 1964. The Southgate Centre was built in 1972.
The Bath At Work Museum opened in 1978 and the Postal Museum was founded in 1979. The Herschel Museum opened in 1981. The National Centre of Photography was founded in 1981. Bath Museum of English Naive Art opened in 1987. Also in 1987 Bath was declared a World Heritage Site.
The Podium Shopping Centre opened in 1989. The Building of Bath Museum opened in 1992. Then in 1997 a Farmers Market opened in Bath.
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1. Saunas relieve stress.
Not surprisingly, sauna bathers most frequently cite stress reduction as the number one benefit of sauna use. Medical studies often determine that stress in our daily lives can negatively affect our health. In fact, the vast majority of disease (i.e. heart disease) is at least partially stress-related. Heat bathing in a sauna provides stress relief in a number of ways. It’s a warm, quiet space without any distractions coming from the outside. As we like to say, "Step into a Finnleo sauna, and close the door on the rest of the world." The heat from the sauna relaxes the body's muscles, improves circulation and stimulates the release of endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s all-natural "feel good" chemical, and their release provides a truly wonderful "after sauna glow.”.
2. Saunas relax muscles and soothe aches/pains in both muscles and joints.
Under the high heat provided by a sauna, the body releases endorphins (see health and wellness benefit #1). Endorphins can have a mild, enjoyable "tranquilizing effect" and the ability to minimize the pain of arthritis and muscle soreness other from, say, an intense physical workout. Body temperature also rises from the heat of the sauna.. This causes blood vessels to dilate, therefore increasing blood circulation. This increased blood flow in turn speeds up the body’s natural healing process via soothing aches and pains and/or speeding up of the healing of minor bruises or cuts. After participating in physical sports, use the heat and/or steam of a sauna to promote muscle relaxation by helping to reduce muscle tension and eliminate lactic acid and/or other toxins that may be present.
3. Saunas flush toxins.
Many - if not most - of us do not actively sweat on a daily basis. Deep sweating, however, has multiple proven health benefits. Benefits derived from a deep sweat can be achieved via regular sauna bathing.Due to the heat of a sauna, the core body temperature begins to rise. The blood vessels then dilate, causing increased blood flow (see above). As heat from the blood begins to move toward the skin's surface, the body’s nervous system then sends signals to the millions of sweat glands that cover the human body. As the sweat glands become stimulated, they produce sweat. Sweat production is primarily designed to cool the body, and is composed of 99% water. However, deep sweating in a sauna can help reduce levels of lead, copper, zinc, nickel, mercury and chemical - which are all toxins commonly absorbed just from interacting with our daily environments.There is no shortage of books from Doctors and practitioners, who describe the benefits of detoxifying our bodies regularly. As many doctors will agree, a big reason for the popularity of saunas is that they are one of the best ways to detoxify our bodies.
4. Sauna cleanses the skin.
Heat bathing is one of the oldest beauty and/or health strategies in terms of cleansing one's skin. When the body begins to produce sweat via deep sweating, the skin is then cleansed and dead skin cells are replaced - keeping your skin in good working condition.Sweating rinses bacteria out of the epidermal layer and sweat ducts. Cleansing of the pores has been shown to improve the capillary circulation, while giving the skin a softer-looking quality. Dr. Ben H Douglas, a professor at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and author of "Ageless: Living Younger Longer,” attests that "Sweating is a way of energizing the skin almost the way exercising a muscle energizes it.” He goes on to explain that, when you sweat, the rush of fluid to the skin "bathes skin cells with a liquid rich in nutrients,” which "fills in the spaces around the cells” and even "plumps up" tiny wrinkles. He also mentions that the nutrients and minerals in sweat "are essential to maintaining the collagen structure of the skin.” Bathing skin in sweat on a fairly regular basis, therefore deters collagen breakdown that can ultimately result in wrinkles and sags. By continually flushing body waste through individual cells, one eventually brings back vitality, tone and a healthy glow to the skin. Sauna usage is certainly not a cure for acne, but it can very often help - due to the deep cleansing it provides from a deep sweat (that is, cleaning the pores from the very inside out - instead of just cleaning the top of the skin).
5. Saunas can induce a deeper sleep.
Research has shown that a deeper, more relaxed sleep can result from sauna use. In addition to the release of endorphins (see above), body temperatures, which become elevated in the late evening,fall at bedtime. This slow, relaxing decline in endorphins is key in facilitating sleep. Numerous sauna bathers worldwide recall the deep sleep experiences that they feel after bathing the the calming heat of a sauna.
6. Saunas bring about recreational and social benefits.
While the social benefit is rarely talked about, it's really actually quite important. The sauna can be a private, personal area of relaxation and solitude. However, it can just as easily be a relaxing environment for socializing with family, friends and soon-to-be friends. The sauna room environment is conducive to open, intimate and quiet conversation.
7. Saunas improve cardiovascular performance.
In the high temperatures of a traditional or infrared sauna, skin heats up and core body temperature rises.In response to these increase heat levels, the blood vessels near the skin dilate and "cardiac output" increases. Medical research has told us that the heart rate can rise from 60-70 bpm (beats per minute) to 110-120 bpm in the sauna (140-150 with more intensive bathing), and can often sink to below normal after the cooling off stage. With regular sauna useage, we not only train our heart muscles and improve the heart rate/cardiac output, but we also help the body's regulatory system.Even more cardiovascular conditioning takes place when the sauna bathing is taken in multiple "innings”, with sessions in the sauna separated by a cool shower or a quick dip into a cool pool or lake. Each time you rapidly change temperature (from hot to cool or vice-versa), your heart rate increases by as much as 60%, which is very comparable to the increase experienced during moderate exercise..
8. Saunas burn calories.
Outlandish claims are often made by some sauna sellers (primarily those who sell infrared saunas) to promote saunas as an end-all weight loss tool. While some individuals may experience high amounts of calorie burn at first - particularly those individuals in poor shape to begin with - over the long term, saunas are simply treated as one of many tools in our arsenal when it comes to burn additional calories.The sweating process itself requires a notable amount of energy. That energy is derived from the conversion of fat and carbohydrates in a bodily process that burns up calories. According to U.S. Army medical research (Ward Dean, M.D.), "A moderately conditioned person can easily sweat off 500 grams in a sauna in a single session, consuming nearly 300 calories in the process.”The body consumes said calories due to the acceleration of heart activity (the cardiovascular section). As heart activity increases and as these processes demand more oxygen, the body begins to convert more calories into usable energy.
9. Saunas can help fight illness.
German sauna medical research shows that saunas were able to significantly reduce the incidences of colds and influenza amongst participants. As the body is exposed to the heat of a sauna and steam (in the case of traditional saunas), it produces white blood cells more rapidly, which in turn helps to fight illnesses and helps to kill viruses.In addition, saunas can relieve the uncomfortable symptoms of sinus congestion from from colds or allergies - especially when used with steam (tip: add eucalyptus to the water for added benefit and overall enjoyment). The steam vapor action helps to clear up unwanted congestion and is a wonderful aspect of the Finnish sauna experience.
10. Saunas just feel good.
A sauna not only feels good, it’s good for your body. Whether it’s the physiological changes that occur during the warmth of a sauna, or if it’s simply the time spent in the calming and still retreat of the sauna, every seasoned sauna bather agrees - it feels wonderful! As we progress through our stressful everyday lives, the sauna provides a pampering retreat - where we can relax and restore body and soul. Sauna bathing truly makes you "Feel Better”, "Look Better” and "Sleep Better”!
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Read the instructions relating the sauna that you're using. Most saunas will carry their own health guidelines and warnings. It is important to familiarize yourself with these prior to using the sauna. If you don't see any instructions, ask the person in charge of caring for the sauna for more information.
Check the temperature. The maximum allowed sauna temperature in Canada and the United States is 194°F (90°C). Some European countries allow much higher temperatures, which can be unsafe.
Does the temperature feel right for you personally, or is it just too hot? If it stays feeling too hot, ask that it be turned down, or keep out
Stay well hydrated. It is possible to suffer from dehydration in a sauna. This can lead to heat stroke if you do not replenish with liquids. Water and isotonic drinks are suitable, but never consume alcohol before or during your use of a sauna. It is also advisable not to use a sauna if you have a hangover. Drink about two to four glasses of water after the sauna.
Don't use a sauna if you are using medication. Unless you have your doctor's go-ahead, err on the side of caution. Some medications can impair your sweating and cause you to overheat very quickly. Get your doctor's all clear first.
Wear suitable attire. If you are not convinced of the cleanliness of the sauna, it is a good idea to wear flip flops, or similar items on your feet. Some sauna experiences are naked - apart from your own personal feelings about that, you might consider leaving some clothing on if you're concerned about the hygiene in a public sauna.
Consider sitting on a towel in a public sauna, rather than sitting directly on the bench.
Avoid outstaying your welcome. The appropriate amount of time to spend in the sauna is around 15–20 minutes at the most, and less if you feel too hot or uncomfortable. It is better to go in and out, taking cooling down breaks, than to roast in it for too long.
Cool down gradually after the sauna. Some people like to have a warm shower before getting dressed after a sauna. It's up to how comfortable you feel but it's not a good idea to go straight from the sauna into a shock of freezing cold air outdoors.
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