More info on bathing machines
Posted by P.Bingham on November 21, 1997 at 18:37:10:
In response to 'Twas me!, written by Betsy on November 21, 1997 at 04:08:37
Cowper wrote that "we rose at six in the morn and by the pale pink of the moon we went to the seaside where we had bespoken the bathing-woman to be ready for us, and into the ocean we plunged."
Fanny Burney wrote from Brighton in 1782 "It was cold but pleasant. I have bathed so often as to lose my dread of the operation."
See bathing was considered to be safest in the winter or in the early morning when the pores were closed but many, including Jane Austen (Lyme on September 1804) enjoyed it in warmer weather.
Lines of bathing machines would be waiting on the beach for the ladies' use. The lady would enter it fully clothed (probably in a morning dress)and change into her bathing shift (just a muslin shift). The horse-drawn box (looked like little V-topped houses with a door at each end, not too much unlike a gypsy wagon but made of white-painted wood. There is a step-ladder at the entrance) would then be backed into the ocean. The lady would be dragged by the bathing-woman into the water at about shoulder-depth, pushed under if hesitant
The book, Jane Austen's world by Maggie Lane has a picture of a beach scene. Lines of these machines are on the beach, with red wheels, red ladders, the box itself white wood. None of them are attached to a horse but there are horses tethered about. People,including children, fully dressed in fashionable attire are walking along (some with pets)with their shoes on. Some fashionable gentlemen are mounted on their horses, with whips in hand and a carriage too (a gig, I think) is being led, a postillion mounting one of the two side-by side horses drawing it.
There is more specific info on bathing machine's in The Regency Companion, and also in What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew.
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