Bathing Machines in Austen’s Day

With summer fast approaching (not fast enough for me), Meg Levin writes about bathing machines in Austen’s day.

When Jane Austen sends Lydia to Brighton she doesn’t tell us what the youngest Miss
Bennet does aside from enjoying Wickham’s attentions. No doubt she and the young wife of Colonel Forster enjoy the shops and hope for glimpses of the Prince Regent. Sea resorts such as Brighton and Weymouth had become popular, much like Bath in the previous century. Young Georgiana Darcy visits the fashionable Ramsgate by the sea. The attractions bathing machineof a popular resort included shops, a theater, assembly rooms for dancing and the sea. It was believed that exposure to sea air and salt water improved your health — as Mrs. Bennet says, “A little sea-bathing would set me up for ever.” So it is quite likely that the two young ladies in Brighton would have tried immersion in the sea by using the bathing machines.

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