The Bath bun is possibly descended from the 18th century 'Bath cake'. References to Bath buns date
from 1761, with origins closely linked with Dr. William Oliver.
To this day they are still on sale at the Bath Bun tea shoppe on Abbey Green.


Dr. Oliver is believed to be the creator of the Bath Bun...

William Oliver was born near Penzance on the 4th August 1695. At the age of 19 he went to Pembroke College, Cambridge, graduating M.B. in medicine in 1720. He then went on to the University of Leyden. Following some years in Europe Oliver returned to England and took his M.D at Cambridge in 1725. He was elected a fellow of The Royal Society in 1729.

In 1728 he moved to Bath. On arrival, it is thought he resided in West Gate Street, but as he became more successful he acquired a grand house on the West side of Queen’s Square. Not long after his arrival in Bath Dr. Oliver befriended Ralph Allen, a fellow Cornishman. As a result of their friendship he met many highly regarded individuals of that period including Alexander Pope. Oliver went on to found the Bath General Hospital (now known as The Royal Hospital for Rheumatic Diseases) with Ralph Allen, John Wood and Richard (Beau) Nash. He was elected physician to the Hospital on May 1st 1740, and retired on 1st May 1761, dying three years later in 1764. Dr. Oliver first invented the Bath Bun for his patients, and its rich sweet flavour proved so popular for many of them it proved to be their undoing. The Bun laced with sugar and fruit was so delicious that many of the patients, whom he was treating for rheumatism, were becoming too fat on them. Consequently it is believed that Oliver experimented and developed the plainer less fattening Bath Oliver biscuits. These were later produced for many years at 13 Green Street in Bath, and are still available to buy today.


During the recent renovation of this building, in order to lay the cabling, the flooring of a small unused cupboard in the wainscoting was lifted. Under the boards was found to be not only the expected layers of dust from centuries past and crumbled plaster, but also a small dark shapeless object. On closer inspection this proved to be the remains of a very old snack. Although partly eaten, and slightly smaller than those made today, it still bared a striking resemblance to a Bath Bun. How it came to be beneath the floor boards will never be known, but as the building predates the arrival of Dr. Oliver it is certainly possible that such an object could have found its way here. Whatever the circumstances, it remains a curious and treasured link to the time when Dr. Oliver’s now famous Buns first appeared in Bath.