For visitors looking for things to do in Bath, Prior Park holds great promise. With its unique history, notable landscape and architectural features, wildlife, and amenities, the park, located on Ralph Allen Drive, is a premiere destination for visitors of all ages and across all walks of life.
History of the Park
Bath entrepreneur Ralph Allen began the development of the park in 1734 with the goal of combining natural landscape and unique architectural details with a breathtaking view of Bath. By the mid 1750s, the park added a notable centerpiece with its Palladian Bridge, one of 3 built in England during this time in the famous Venetian style. Allen had no heir, so after his death, the park switched ownership multiple times and eventually began to decline. In 1993, the National Trust acquired 26 acres of the garden and has worked since to restore and uncover the garden’s glory.
A notable feature of Prior Park Bath is the Palladian Bridge, named for the 16th century Venetian architect Andrea Palladio. The bridge, which has 18th century graffiti scratched onto its surfaces, is one of only 4 Palladian bridges in the world. Visitors to the park also enjoy the re-imagined summerhouse, which was restored in 2004 based on the original structure’s remaining timber frame and photos of the original. The park also features an ice house, built of Bath stone, which was considered to be a status symbol in the mid-18th century.
Wildlife and Wilderness
Animal lovers and photographers alike will enjoy the park’s many wildlife residents, including nuthatches, bullfinches, robins, roe deer, damselflies, and dragonflies. Around the park’s ponds visitors can expect to spot swans, coots, cygnets, gulls, moorhens, and herons. A wide variety of fish also populate the ponds, including carp. Kingfishers are occasionally spotted around the bottom lakes.
Prior Park Bath features a variety of eating and shopping outlets, including a tea kiosk near the garden and an upcycled boat shop that features rugs, snacks, and souvenirs. They sell souvenir guidebooks, written by the park’s head gardener, on site for £3.50. The guidebooks inform readers about the history of the garden alongside stunning photography. Guests are invited to bring a picnic to share with family and friends.
Admissions and Events
Beyond the basic features, Prior Park Bath also offers season events such as a winter trail, a city to garden winter walk, and volunteer recruitment events. Dogs on leads are welcome at the park year round, including along the skyline walk. Admission to the park is £5.40 for adults, £3 for children, or £13.90 for a family. The Park also participates in the National Trust’s Gift Aid admission program, which allows guests the opportunity to pay a 10 percent higher admission to help sustain the work of the trust.
Prior Park Bath is an appealing mix of every day natural beauty and extraordinary and historical architecture. Coupled with an ideal view of the city of Bath, the park will provide guests with hours of sight seeing, relaxation, and enjoyment of the great outdoors. Photographers, dog walkers, nature lovers, children and older guests will all find something to delight in.