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|Men and Machines
Written by JulieW
(2/21/2004 8:33 a.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Would Mr Hurst..., penned by Ann2
In different parts of the beach, of course, to preserve the appearance of decency.........
Phyllis Henbry in her book "The English Spa " writes of Scraborough;
"When Sir Harbottle Grimston wrote in 1768 that Scraborough was "much resorted to by company for the benefit of bathing in the sea..." spa life there was already secondary to sea-bathing. By 1785 there were twenty-six bathing machines,with two women guides for every lady bather and one each for gentlemen,Mand forty machines by 1813..."
This picture above shows the gentry at the seaside at Scarborough, 1776. Bathing was known from 1736 at Scarborough.
As to men using the machines,there is more documentary evidence from Tobias Smollet, who , in his book, The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker wrote of the machines;, and includes notes on their use by men
"Image to yourself a small, snug, wooden chamber, fixed upon a wheel-carriage, having a door at each end, and on each side a little window above, a bench below - The bather, ascending into this apartment by wooden steps, shuts himself in, and begins to undress, while the attendant yokes a horse to the end next the sea, and draws the carriage forwards, till the surface of the water is on a level with the floor of the dressing-room, then he moves and fixes the horse to the other end - The person within being stripped, opens the door to the sea-ward, where he finds the guide ready, and plunges headlong into the water - After having bathed, he re-ascends into the apartment, by the steps which had been shifted for that purpose, and puts on his clothes at his leisure, while the carriage is drawn back again upon the dry land; so that he has nothing further to do, but to open the door, and come down as he went up - Should he be so weak or ill as to require a servant to put off and on his clothes, there is room enough in the apartment for half a dozen people...................
The guides who attend the ladies in the water, are of their own sex, and they and the female bathers have a dress of flannel for the sea; nay, they are provided with other conveniences for the support of decorum. A certain number of the machines are fitted with tilts, that project from the sea-ward ends of them, so as to screen the bathers from the view of all persons whatsoever - The beach is admirably adapted for this practice, the descent being gently gradual, and the sand soft as velvet; but then the machines can be used only at a certain time of the tide, which varies every day; so that sometimes the bathers are obliged to rise very early in the morning -"
We should not forget that JA herself liked to sea bathe and found it delightful;
"The Bathing was so delightful this morning & Molly so pressing with me to enjoy myself that I believe I staid in rather too long, as since the middle of the day I have felt unreasonably tired. I shall be more careful another time, & shall not bathe tomorrow, as I had before intended."
Cetianly the Prince Regent liked to bathe and used a machine ;-)
So, in theory, Mr Hurst may have been able to sea bathe from a machine..But in practise I would think the exertion would be too much for him, dont you agree;-) He'd be much better off remaining at Newborough with his port and comfy sofa.
As to Scarborough Fair, well it certainly was NOT modern.It began in 1189 and was a true medieval fair lasting 45 days.
Scarborough Fair was not a fair as we know it today -with fairground rides,although it attracted jesters and jugglers, but it was a huge forty-five day trading event, starting on 15th August each year., which was exceptionally long for a fair in those days.
People from all over England, and even some from the continent, came to Scarborough to do their business.Scarborough being a port on the East coast made it a convienient place for traders from Holland ,Denmark and perhaps even Sweden. to buy and sell goods.;-)
The song made popular by Simon and Garfunkle was based on one of the songs called Scarborough Fair- there were many versions dating form late medieval times.Paul Simon learnt the song from an English folksinger,Martin Carthy, when he visited England in the early 1960s.
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