Saturday, 7 January 2017

Dispelling Myths - People didn't take Baths

Dispelling Myths - People didn't take Baths in 16th-17th century etc - in reference to Cleanliness is next to Godliness!

In actual fact, throughout history, people bathed more than historians declare - as can be seen within private journals circa 17th century. The reason they wore perfume and carried pomanders was to kill the stench of the streets where the saying Gardy Loo had purpose before the pitching of effluent from chamber pots to street gully. Hence the wealthy abandoned cities in warm weather, as often as they could and retreated to their country abodes. There's a huge myth the aristocracy abided to seasonal Parliamentary sittings - not those who didn't give a toss about politics, and that was the majority. Yes, they had town houses, in many cases owned streets of houses leased out to the middling merchant/trader classes, but in most cases they only attended specific events, and tended to swan about with a mistress rather than have their family with them. Even the court retired to the country - often. The upper merchant class owned their own vast properties, but of course the lower class were unable to take flight to fresh air unless they paid visit to relatives who were a bit farther distant, bearing in mind Chelsea was a village with open green fields as were other places of note such as Putney where there were windmills on Putney heath - Greater London didn't exist!

Casting stone built Roman baths aside, Wooden baths were little different than wooden baths of the 16-17th centuries resembling cut off ale barrels. Not the little brandy and port barrels, the biggies. Then there were tin (Roman baths) carried with armies for officers and tin baths carried on alongside wooden ones for centuries. Then came the Georgian era and the ever present copper pans, kettles, and yes, Baths. Note the differing wooden baths, the tin one used in the Poldark series, and the Georgian copper. 

For more in depth reference go here