The Romans In LondonLondon Grid for Learning

Visits to the public baths and the amphitheatre were important features of Roman life. The public baths were like today's leisure centres – you went to get clean, meet up with friends, eat, exercise and play board games. Although they were an important part of daily life, we do not know how often Roman Londoners went to the baths. We do know that there were several large public baths in London. The largest was on the northern bank of the Thames, in what is now Upper Thames Street, so that dirty water could go straight into the Thames. Over time, however, richer people wanted to have their own bath-houses attached to their houses rather than having to go to the public baths. Whatever the size of the bath-house, the rooms were laid out in a similar way as the bather undressed in a cold room and then moved to warmer rooms.

Baths were a social event but when it came to entertainment, London probably had various venues – an amphitheatre for shows, a theatre for plays and a circus for chariot racing although the only one of these that has been found so far is the amphitheatre. The remains can be seen at the Guildhall Art Gallery and the area of the arena is marked out in Guildhall Yard. Gladiator shows at the amphitheatre would have been one of the entertainments and in 2011 the Museum of London staged a show with gladiators from Britannia, a re-enactment group.