The modern layout of the Strand Lane 'Roman' baths: fragments of a richer history
The bath building of the Strand Lane 'Roman' Baths consists of the bath chamber and a longer and narrower entrance corridor running alongside it, with steps up to a door out into Strand Lane. Discover more about its layout.
The bath chamber is covered by a full brick and/or stone vault, it contains the bath and a settling tank built in the 1920s at the eastern end. Access from corridor to bath chamber is via a doorway level with the midpoint of the bath; there is also a hatch just inside the entrance from Strand Lane. The bath is made of shallow wide Tudor bricks, with sides and a floor of the same materials, broken and patched towards the western end; the edges have been patched with frogged bricks from later than 1750. The brick-/stone-work of the walls and vaults hasn’t been officially dated, but most probably belongs to the 18th century.
There are clear signs that these surviving elements were once part of a larger complex, there are blocked doorways at the ends of both the bath chamber and the entrance corridor, and a third in the south wall of the corridor, just inside the entrance from Strand Lane.
Traces of older decorative schemes remain in the blue and white ‘Dutch’ tiles on the corridor wall and the door and hatch surrounds, and in the stone and marble slabs now resting on and around the settling tank; also in the damaged wall-plaque, identifying the bath as ‘nearly 2000 years old’ and a relic of the days of ‘Titus or Vespasian.’
The source of the water coming into the Bath has never been properly established, and may have varied over time. [Strand Lane Bath, Statutory Planning File, London Metropolitan Archives, LMA/4441/01/0109.] In the mid-19th century it bubbled up through a hole in the floor, where patching to the brickwork can still be seen. In the early 1920s it entered at the north-east corner, but could also be seen seeping through the adjacent sides of the bath.
Since the mid-1920s it has entered via the settling tank at the east end. The supply has been interrupted several times in the twentieth century, for instance in the 1940s when the bath was derelict and blocked by rubbish, and again in the 1970s thanks to building work on Surrey Street.