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posted 06-21-2005 01:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Maria   Click Here to Email Maria     Edit/Delete Message
I remember seeing something, in a National Geographic I think... They said a turkish bath had been discovered in one of King Henry the VIII's castles, thus demolishing the mith of the "dirthy" middle ages. Does anyone know what castle was this?(Hampton Court maybe?)

posted 06-21-2005 03:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peter   Click Here to Email Peter     Edit/Delete Message
There could be a mix up here.
Just typed a piece up for the latest 'Postern', which I will retype here.
" Over at Bolsover Castle (Derbyshire) repair works on a 12ft high section of castle wall may have brought to light a bathroom. There are two chambers. One thought to be the bathroom, and the other the boiler room. This could be from the time of Sir William Cavendish (1593 to 1676), who started the fashion of 'bathing-rooms' on returning to England after the Civil War.'
Copies of 'Postern' can be obtained from myself as long as the e-mail is marked 'Postern'.

[This message has been edited by Peter (edited 06-21-2005).]

Senior Member
posted 06-22-2005 04:08 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJR     Edit/Delete Message
Peter's right. I noted the following articles.
From the Yorkshire Post newspaper, 18th May 2005

Aristocrat's bathing room is unearthed

Archaeologists are hoping to unearth fresh information about the lifestyle of 17th Century aristocrats after re-opening rooms at Bolsover Castle which have remained sealed for more than 100 years.

The castle is undergoing an improvement programme, and its owners, English Heritage are taking the opportunity to break through into some rooms which were sealed for safety reasons as the building crumbled into disrepair more than a century ago.

It is now believed one of the rooms was converted to a bathing room for owner Sir William Cavendish, with a boiler room alongside.

English Heritage spokesman John Burditt said: "We are trying to improve visitor access to parts of the castle and to further our knowledge of the site at the same time. Some doorways have been opened up which have not been open for more than 100 years. We are quite excited because we think one room is a bathing house. At some stage in history, bathing was invented and this was probably after the Civil War, in the 1660s. We are also looking at the back, into a smaller chamber which may have provided hot water."

The archaeological work is expected to continue all year and may lead to permanent access for visitors to new areas.

The castle was built as a weekend retreat by Sir William Cavendish after his father Sir Charles started work on the site in 1614. Although it has the appearance of a medieval castle, it was built much later.

From “The Guardian” newspaper, 19th May 2005

History washes up ancient bathroom

Five blocks of stone prised out of a castle wall are thought to have revealed what may be the first bathroom built in Britain after the long and grubby interlude of the Middle Ages.

Archaeologists are carrying out a preliminary search of two chambers unearthed this week in a long-abandoned outbuilding at Bolsover in Derbyshire, where Sir William Cavendish, a fastidious aristocrat, is known to have started a fashion for "bathing rooms" after the English civil war.

Inside the room, a narrow slit running round all four walls shows where flagstones once formed a floor at a level leaving ample room for a sunken bath. The main chamber also has a recess at one end the width of lead piping, which tallies with a similar feature on a well house in the castle garden immediately outside.

"It is looking very promising," said John Burditt of English Heritage, which is gradually restoring the castle - a grandiose mixture of mansion and fortress which dominates the pit village constituency of leftwing Labour MP Denis Skinner.

"Another piece of evidence is the smaller second chamber which has blackened stone on one wall," Mr Burditt said. "The historical record describes how Sir William's bath could be filled with hot water. This room may well turn out to have been the boiler house."

Sir William's experiments in hygiene were inspired in part by his exile on the continent, following Oliver Cromwell's victory. In Europe, washing was generally more sophisticated than in England.

But Sir William is also thought to have been keen to help his first wife, Lady Madge, overcome her problems in conceiving.

"Immersion in warm water was thought to be a way of treating infertility at the time," said Mr Burditt. "Cavendish had the resources and room to make this possible on a large scale."

The 17th-century bathing room craze was the first real revival in Britain of the fastidious habits of the Romans, whose elaborate public baths were left in ruins during the Dark Ages. Bolsover's hidden rooms, which were sealed over a century ago when they fell into disrepair and became structurally dangerous, are likely to go on show after a full archaeological survey this summer.

The find, if the bathing theory is confirmed, will add another laurel to Britain's considerable plumbing heritage, which famously includes the perfector of the modern flush lavatory, Thomas Crapper.

The first bathroom to be installed in the US was also the work of a man who knew Bolsover well, the 18th-century Leeds architect Benjamin LaTrobe whose other commissions included collaborative design on the White House.

Senior Member
posted 06-22-2005 06:21 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Merlin   Click Here to Email Merlin     Edit/Delete Message
But the myth of "dirty middle ages" is untrue, even if the bathroom Maria refers to is from post-medieval times. The ancient tradition of public baths, bath-houses etc. survived throughout the middle ages: There are many pictures in illustrated books from that time that show bathing people, and there's also archaeological evidence from many places.

posted 06-22-2005 08:11 AM           Edit/Delete Message
I found this at http://www.britarch.ac.uk/index.html
Henry VIII's sauna found at Whitehall

The remains of King Henry VIII's personal `Turkish' steam bath have been identified in a new study of finds from his royal palace at Whitehall. The Turkish bath is thought to have been the first in Britain, complete with decorated tiled stove and steps leading down into a sunken stone pool.

Whitehall Palace in London was excavated in 1939, but the finds - including the sunken bath and hundreds of associated stove-tile fragments - were inadequately studied at the time, and were recognised as a Turkish bath only when re-examined by David Gaimster, a curator at the British Museum, and Simon Thurley, Curator of the Historic Royal Palaces. Speaking at a recent British Museum conference, Dr Gaimster said the discovery showed Henry VIII was adopting not only `the latest in Continental domestic design and technology' but also a full Continental Renaissance lifestyle. `The old-fashioned bathtub used at the beginning of his reign could not offer a greater contrast to the luxury sauna-bath arrangement introduced at Whitehall during the final decade of his life,' he said.

Steam baths, consisting of tiled stoves, baths, and occasionally beds and other furniture, were introduced to Europe in Germany in the later 15th century. In Britain they are known from records from the mid to later 16th century; and the Whitehall bathroom is recorded in an inventory of the palace dated 1543. The finds, however, provide the first archaeological evidence for the technology in Britain.

The tiles and the sunken bath were found associated with a small room in the king's privy quarters. The wood-fired stove was classically designed with pediment and entablature, and was constructed of English-made green-glazed tiles which were moulded with Henry VIII's royal arms and those of Edward Prince of Wales.

According to Dr Gaimster, the heraldic imagery suggests that Henry VIII's modish bathroom may have been designed with a `public propagandist' purpose in mind, despite being located within the inner sanctum of the royal quarters. The tiles and a reconstruction drawing of the stove are now on display in the new gallery of 15th to 18th Century Europe at the British Museum.

posted 06-22-2005 08:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Maria   Click Here to Email Maria     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks everybody. Whitehall it was, I tracked down the National Geographic (vol. 191, no1, January 1997). They don't give that much information. David Gaimster realised that that the bathroom had no windows, so that the steam couldn't get out.

posted 06-22-2005 05:06 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Peter   Click Here to Email Peter     Edit/Delete Message
Just goes to show .. it all comes out in the wash.

Senior Member
posted 06-23-2005 04:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJR     Edit/Delete Message
Yeh - you got it wrong, and I compounded it !!!!!

Whitehall is outside my sphere of interest.

However, people may still be interested to know about Bolsover Castle, more info and pictures of which can be found at http://www.castleduncan.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=612

[This message has been edited by AJR (edited 06-23-2005).]

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