Beaches and Bathing Machines!

Beaches and Bathing Machines!

For much of my life, the arrival of June meant family vacations at the beaches of Alabama or Florida. Even now, when the calendar rolls over to the first of that month, I feel as though I can finally unwind and relax. A holdover, I am certain, from all the years spent waiting for the school year to end so we could take a well-needed break from our daily lives.

I cannot help but consider how a trip to the beach today compares to one in the early 1800’s. I confess that I cringe when I watch the scenes in Persuasion where the women are walking along the seashore and the bottoms of their gowns get wet. Washing clothes in that period was not an easy task, made more difficult because of the length of their gowns. Furthermore, I cannot fathom how stifling the heat must have been in the summer months when one was wearing all those clothes. Heat stroke, anyone?

Still, had a woman wished to ‘take to the water’ in order to cool themselves, they would likely have used an invention known as the bathing machine. The purpose of this invention was to keep women and their bodies out of sight, while the men were allowed to frolic freely, if on a separate section of the beach.

Mermaids at Brighton by William Heath 1829

Mermaids at Brighton by William Heath 1829

The bathing machines in use in  Margate, Kent were described in 1805 as “four-wheeled carriages, covered with canvas, and having at one end of them an umbrella of the same materials which is let down to the surface of the water, so that the bather descending from the machine by a few steps is concealed from the public view, whereby the most refined female is enabled to enjoy the advantages of the sea with the strictest delicacy.”

Bognor, UK West Beach

Bognor, UK West Beach

Bathing machines began popping up around the 1750s as four-wheeled carts with two doors on either side that were normally rolled out to sea by a horse. Swimwear hadn’t yet been invented and most people still swam naked. Later, when early forms of swimwear were introduced, society declared that a proper woman should not be seen on the beach in her bathing suit. The bathing machine allowed bathers to change out of their clothes and into their bathing suits without being seen or having to cross the beach in improper clothing. The machine would simply be rolled out to sea and hauled back in when the beachgoer raised a small flag attached to the roof.

bathing12

Once deep enough in the surf, the bather would exit the cart using the door facing the water. For inexperienced swimmers, some beach resorts offered the service of a “dipper,” a strong person of the same sex, who would escort the bather out to sea in the cart, essentially push them into the water and yank them out when they were done. As long you as you didn’t drown, this was considered a successful day at the beach.

At their most popular, bathing machines lined the beaches of Britain and other parts of the British Empire, as well as France, Germany, the United States and Mexico. Below is a panoramic view of a beach in France.

France

The following excerpt from The Traveller’s Miscellany and Magazine of Entertainment written in 1847 recalls the details of a luxury bathing machine. Along with the excerpt, I have included a picture of Queen Victoria’s bathing machine. I can just imagine the interior may well have rivaled the description given in the magazine.

“The interior is all done in snow-white enamel paint, and one-half of the floor is pierced with many holes, to allow of free drainage from wet flannels. The other half of the little room is covered with a pretty green Japanese rug.  

Queen Victoria's Bathing Machine

Queen Victoria’s Bathing Machine

In one corner is a big-mouthed green silk bag lined with rubber. Into this the wet bathing-togs are tossed out of the way. There are large bevel-edged mirrors let into either side of the room, and below one juts out a toilet shelf, on which is every appliance. There are pegs for towels and the bathrobe, and fixed in one corner is a little square seat that when turned up reveals a locker where clean towels, soap, perfumery, etc. are stowed. Ruffles of white muslin trimmed with lace and narrow green ribbons decorate every available space.”

The bathing machines remained in active use on English beaches until the 1890s, when they began to be parked on the beach and used as stationary changing rooms. When legal segregation of bathing areas in Britain ended in 1901 and it finally became acceptable for both genders to bathe together, it was the beginning of the end of the bathing machine. Most of them had disappeared in the United Kingdom by 1914, and by the 1920s, they were almost entirely extinct, except for those used by the elderly.

Brighton Walks

Brighton Walks

 

Still, even in this era of bikinis and topless beaches, some of the bathing machines are still in service, having been divested of their wheels to become changing cabins. The adorably photogenic and colorful little beach houses, pictured above, are the direct successors of the Georgian bathing machine and a little-known reminder of seaside history. Who knew?

Now, my question to you is this: Had you lived in that era, do you think you would have dared to take advantage of a bathing machine? Better still, would you have dared to appear in one of those bathing costumes?

The information in this post is from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathing_machine and www.messynessychic.com

Winners of Our Spring Quarter Giveaways!!!!

 

 

Winners of Our Spring Quarter Giveaways!!!!

Winners of Our Spring Quarter Giveaways!!!!

SHARED FORM AUSTEN AUTHORS WEBSITE!

congratulations_bluestarsAusten Authors is pleased to announce the winners of our SPRING QUARTER GIVEAWAY!

If your name is below, please contact Regina Jeffers at [email protected] to claim your prize.
If the item is an eBook, please indicate to which email address the prize notice should be delivered.
If the prize is a print book, gourmet tea, or Regency reticule, include your mailing address in the email.

CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL!!!

Season of Courtship frontcover iconMallory Reynolds and Megan Williford will receive a copy of
Darcy and Elizabeth: A Season  of Courtship from Sharon Lathan.
You may choose either an eBook copy or a print copy, Ladies. FirstImpressions Price icon

 

 

 

Susan M. Heim won an eBook copy of Sarah Price‘s First Impressions,
while Jasmine Ausgustine will receive a print copy of the same book.

 

 

 

Matchmaker Price icon

 

Loren and Sandy Womack Barela will receive an eBook copy of Sarah Price‘s The Matchmaker,
while Lora Fujinaga will receive a print copy of the same title. undonebusiness Fairbanks icon

 

 

Erin has been chosen for an eBook copy of
Rose Fairbanks‘ Undone Business;
meanwhile,
Patrician Finnegan will received a print copy of the same novel. 

 

 

 

Pemberley_to_Waterloo icon

Georgiana Darcy's Diary book coverAmy Livesay Hart and Debbie Fortin are the winners of an eBook bundle
from Anna Elliott that includes
Georgiana Darcy’s Diary and Pemberley to Waterloo.

 

 

 

 

 

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click image for website

 

Donna B. and Savannah Knepp will have their choice of
“Inspired by Jane Teas” from Sara Thomas.

Each lucky lady can pick ONE flavor from the 5 choices available.
Click image for website, or this link:
Inspired by Jane Teas 

 

 

Lizzy-Jane icon
Katherine Reay will present
Renee Yoder a print copy of Lizzy and Jane

 

 

 

 

reticule giveaway LathanFinally, Chelsea Knestrick will receive a
handmade Regency reticule from Sharon Lathan. 

*Special thanks to Kathy Chopra of the Greater Louisville JASNA region for sewing this reticule. 
Kathy will have reticules for sale at the 2015 AGM, and is leading the Reticule Workshop.

 

 

 

 

 

Our SUMMER QUARTER GIVEAWAY will begin in July
with more awesome prizes from the Austen Authors!

giveaway roses

 

 

More Winners from Austen Authors! Gifts from P.O. Dixon and Brenda Webb

winners_areShared from Austen Authors!

We at Austen Authors are pleased to announce the winners from P.O. Dixon’s “A Few of My Favorite Things” post and from Brenda Webb’s “Fire-A Regency Necessity” post.

Carol Perrin will receive her choice of any of P.O. Dixon’s eBooks.

podixonbooks1

Meanwhile, Glynis and Maureen have their choice of an eBook or paperback copy of one of three of Brenda Webb’s books: Fitzwilliam Darcy: A Honourable Man; Mr. Darcy’s Forbidden Love; or Darcy and Elizabeth: A Most Unlikely Couple.

Copy-for-AuAu-5_15-giveaway1

To claim your prize, Ladies, please send Regina Jeffers with a message at [email protected] – be certain to indicate your prize choice in the email. If the prize an eBook indicate to which email address the prize notice should be directed. If a print copy of the book is requested, indicate your mailing address. Congratulations!

Fire – A Regency Necessity + A giveaway!

I have enjoyed writing Regency stories for several years, and the more I write, the more I realize how much more there is to know about that era. But, if I have learned anything along the way, it is this: For a tale is to be believable, the details must also be believable.

With each new story, I find another aspect of the Regency period that I need to investigate. I’m not speaking of the protocols of courtship or station that I tend to flaunt in my ‘what if’ tales, but about everyday matters my characters would have faced—such as how to build a fire, treat a cold or how much time it took to travel from point A to point B.

Today I would like to pass along a little bit of what I learned about fire. By the fourteenth century, the Steet seller of matches for tinder boxes 1821“match” was known in Europe, but it was much more similar to what we think of as a wick or a fuse. It was a chemically treated cord which burned slowly but continuously, and could be used to ignite the touch-hole of a cannon or a campfire.

Fire was not truly portable until the end of the reign of George IV, and the inexpensive matches we take for granted today did not come along until the reign of Queen Victoria. But, if matches were not readily available during the Regency, how was fire managed at that time? That would commonly be by means of a tinderbox. This was a metal box, most often made of tin, with a lid that fit tightly on the box, like a modern-day canister. Often the lid would have a box with candleplace for a candle so that you could use it as a holder if you wished.

A tight fit was necessary to keep the tinder in the box dry. The tinder was kept in the very bottom, under a metal disk of the same diameter as the box. Often the disc had a small handle for ease of use. This disk was the damper and was used to extinguish the tinder once its sparks had served their purpose. Resting atop the damper would be the steel striker and the flint nodule which would be stuck against each another to create sparks. Above those implements would be stored the matches, which were sticks made of deal (wood from Scots pines) dipped in sulphur or spunks (a kind of wood or fungus that smolders when ignited). These matches were nothing like the friction matches yet to be invented but were simply implements of fire transfer.

The most favored tinder material during the Regency was scorched linen, which was made by putting cloth into an almost airtight tin with a small hole in it, and cooking it in campfire coals until the smoking slowed and the cloth was properly charred. These cloths ignited with the smallest spark and were used with a flint and steel. When away from home, small pocket tinder boxes were often carried, sometimes set with a burning glass (a lens) in the lid to light the tinder directly from the sun’s rays. The poorer people working in the fields would obtain a light by simply striking a flint on the back of a knife onto a piece of touch-paper that they carried in their pockets.

How were these items used together to make fire? First, everything was removed from the tinderbox except the tinder. The steel was held over the tinder and the flint was struck against it. The steel showered sparks, and eventually a spark would ignite, at which point the fire would be drawing tinderencouraged by a few soft, steady breaths. Once the tinder was burning steadily, a match was applied to it. The match would ignite and be applied to a candle for light, or to a taper or paper spill to be used to light a fire laid on the hearth. As soon as the match had been ignited, the damper was put back into the tinderbox to snuff out the tinder so that it could be used again.

In most households, the kitchen fire was kept burning around the clock. At night, it was banked and covered with a metal hood pierced with many small holes, called the curfew, a corruption of the French couvre-feu, meaning “fire cover.” Each morning someone would remove the cover and use bellows to blow fresh life into the imagesA2Q9886Msmoldering embers and then add fuel to renew the fire. As it was not always convenient to dash to the kitchen hearth for a light, many homes kept a tinderbox on each mantelpiece. A thoroughly utilitarian domestic appliance, a tinderbox might be kept out of sight in an elegant town home or an opulent country mansion, except for those made of brass or silver. Still, it was a common feature of modest houses and cottages.

Now that you know the effort required to start a fire, it’s quite understandable why the invention of the friction match was so incredibly important. Imagine rising on a cold, dark, winter morning to find that your kitchen fire had died during the night and having to fumble in the dark to find the tinderbox, grasp the cold flint and steel, and then struggle to strike enough sparks to ignite the tinder.

Whew! It makes me tired just to think about it. Aren’t you glad that we have modern heating (and air conditioning)? At least, should the electricity go off, we can strike a match and light a candle.

By the way, I had to include this picture of a silver tinderbox. I could see Mr. Darcy having one with his initials on it!

Antique silver box 2

Information in this post came from Wikipedia and The Regency Redingote site.

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Since Mother’s Day has just passed, I would like to give away two copies of my books. Your choice of a paperback or kindle e-book of Fitzwilliam Darcy – An Honourable Man, Mr. Darcy’s Forbidden Love or Darcy And Elizabeth – A Most Unlikely Couple! Just put a note in your comment that you would like to be included in the drawing. Giveaway closes midnight Friday (CST)

Winners of 1st Quarter Comments Contest!

winner

We have the winners for the first quarter ‘COMMENTS CONTEST’ and they are as follows:

First place, $25 Amazon card goes to alberni

Second place to MaryBuz -any book listed in this thread

Third place to christoph – any book listed in this thread (after 2nd place winner picks).

 

REMEMBER: The winners will need to contact me via private message or via email at [email protected] WITHIN TWO WEEKS of being announced (April 29) or the prize goes to the next person on the list.  This is to encourage people to read something other than the stories thread!

 

Winter and I are not friends!

Reposted from Austen Authors!

Posted on March 19, 2015 by Brenda J Webb • 10 Comments

wearing pattens to protect her shoes smallerBeing born and raised in the southern United States, I have never been a fan of cold weather. While I don’t care for really hot weather either, if I had to choose between sweating to death or being turned into a popsicle, I would definitely choose the former.

I have many dear friends who live in the frozen tundra of the northern states and they seem to cope really well. Still, every year when winter begins to extend its icy grip with blizzards, frozen lakes and truckloads of snow, I cannot help but wonder why they don’t move to a milder climate. Logically, I suppose work and family keep them rooted to their particular hometown and,  if everyone moved south, who would be left to shovel the snow?

Understandably, many yanks migrate south when the temperature drops. After all, everyone deserves to thaw out at least once during the winter. The snowbirds, as they are called in the south, suddenly appear like blackbirds in a corn field and disappear just as swiftly in April or May. My theory is that while they enjoy the milder winters, they really can’t handle the heat.imagesWX0FZD9E

As a writer, I have become very cognizant of the weather in my stories. If the scene involves turmoil for my characters, I may have a storm raging simultaneously. If our lovers are engaged in a tender moment, the heavens are likely to be cloudless. Weather is used as a common plot device in JAFF books, mainly because it is so easy to have Darcy and Elizabeth stranded by either rain or snow, which forces them to communicate. I wrote just such a scene at the beginning of my book, Mr. Darcy’s Forbidden Love, where our dear couple is stranded alone overnight because of a flood.

Though I took into account the hardships of living in the early 1800s when I began writing novels, I was not aware that England received so much snow and ice in the winter. Then I came across several articles about the Frost Fairs, which were held on the River Thames. I found them fascinating. Between 1309 and 1814 the lower section of the river froze solid at least 23 times in the London area. By the seventeenth century, however, Londoners were venturing out onto the ice of the frozen river to enjoy impromptu events which came to be known as Frost Fairs.

According to my research, the last Frost Fair was held on February 1, 1814 and lasted four days. It even featured an elephant being led across the river below Blackfriars Bridge. An oil on canvas painting (below) of the fair from 1684 depicts coaches, sledges and sedan-chairs on the ice as a game of ninepins is played.

1684 oil on canvas painting called A Frost Fair on the Thames at Temple StairsMoreover, it was said that there were up to ten printing presses in operation making cards and popular sheet-music of the time. A printer named George Davis published a 124-page book, Frostiana: or a History of the River Thames in a Frozen State, and the entire book was type-set and printed in Davis’s stall. Unlicensed gambling, drinking and dancing were likely the greatest draws at the fairs, there were stalls selling food, drink, souvenirs and personalized keepsakes for just a few pennies. Featured in the Museum of London’s A souvenir tankard from the frost fair of 1683set of memorabilia are a souvenir tankard from the frost fair of 1683 and a souvenir silver spoon from the frost fair of 1683 to 1684.

 

The inscription on the spoon says: ‘This was bought at the faire kept upon the Midle of ye Thames against ye Temple in the great frost on souvenir silver spoon from the frost fair of 1683 to 1684the 29 of January 1683/4.’

After 1814, the climate grew milder. Old London Bridge was demolished in 1831 and replaced with a new bridge with wider arches, which allowed the tide to flow more freely. Once the new bridge opened, the Thames never froze over in the London area again, despite temperatures dropping to -20C at times in the notoriously cold winter of 1895.

You may be asking yourself why I went from talking about the weather in the United States to frozen rivers in Regency England. The answer is simple. Since I began writing Jane Austen inspired tales, I look at everything in the context of what people in that era would have seen or done. It’s an obsession that I fear I shall never overcome (not that I should ever want to).

I hope that by now the worst of the winter is over, and March is going out like a lamb. I am eager to see lilies push up through the soil once more. My lawn is huge and has no top soil. The hard clay makes it impossible to grow flowers unless they are in pots or beds. Though my little lily plot is new and not well established, when it springs back to life, I am reminded of Genesis 8:22:

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

lillies 300X.jpg

With all the cares of this life, I find comfort in knowing that everything continues just as God planned. It gives me a sense of peace. How about you

Fourth Round of Winners from Our Launch Giveaway

Posted on March 1, 2015 by Regina Jeffers

We are happy to announce the fourth round of winners from our Launch Giveaway. If your name is below, please contact Regina Jeffers ([email protected]) to claim your prize. For eBook prizes, when contacting Regina, be sure to indicate to which email address you wish to receive your gift. Congratulations!

Stephanie Mudd Carrico will receive an eBook copy of Elizabeth Adams’ two novels: The Houseguest and Green Card.
TheHouseguest EAdams iconGreenCard EAdams

OneThreadPulled Oaks iconJan will receive an eBook Copy of Diana J. Oak’s One Thread Pulled.

Falmouth Connection iconKathy MacLeod will receive an eBook copy of Joana Starnes’ The Falmouth Connection.

JA CompleteCollectionCeri will receive an eBook copy of Jane Austen: The Complete Collection, donated by Regina Jeffers.
Lady Elizabeth icon

tgruy will receive an eBook copy of P. O. Dixon’s Lady Elizabeth: Everything Will Change.

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