“The Rigors of Sea Bathing in the Regency Period”
By Jenna Jaxon, author of What a Widow Wants, The Widows Club Series
Sea bathing became popular during the late eighteenth century, when the Prince Regent began to patronize the little seaside village of Brighton. His patronage continued well into the nineteenth century, and because he visited there during certain times of the year, others in his circle did the same, transforming sleepy villages into fashionable destinations.
Family trips to the seaside, therefore, became extremely popular during the Regency period. Not only were seaside resorts places to see and be seen, but they were considered conducive to good health by those who drank the waters or bathed in them. Many infirm people and invalids of the time swore by the restorative powers of a dip in the chilly waters off Brighton, Margate, Bournemouth, or Weymouth.
Throughout the Regency period, bathing was not confined solely to the summer months. In fact, people were encouraged, in the beginning, to bathe during the winter months or early in the mornings, as this was considered the time when their pores were closed against the cold and illness. Timid swimmers could hire a “dipper,” a sturdy woman who would assist the would-be adventurers into the water—by force if necessary. The benefits of swimming in cold water have been well documented, so the practice may indeed have helped people’s health, in general, if not for specific maladies.
Ladies and gentlemen were able to swim without scandal erupting due to the invention of the bathing machine. A cart or carriage was enclosed to create a wooden structure that resembled a caravan wagon. The back end was outfitted with an umbrella-like structure that was lowered into the water from the cart, creating a tunnel through which a swimmer could walk down steps into the water without being seen. In addition, women and men bathed on different beaches to insure privacy—especially since they could elect not to wear bathing costumes. Several paintings from the period depict women swimming au naturel.
Frolicking by the sea seems a perfect setting for a heroine and hero to meet and fall in love. Although the truth was, in many cases, more prosaic, seaside resorts could spell romance for couples during the Regency, if they were willing to take the plunge.
About What A Widow Wants
Widowed by the Battle of Waterloo, the ladies of Lyttlefield Park are returning to London society—with their futures in their own hands . . .
The widowed Lady Stephen Tarkington, Fanny to her friends, has finished mourning her cad of a husband and is ready to enjoy her freedom. The kind of freedom neither a gently bred miss nor a close-watched wife is permitted: dressing up as Aphrodite for a masquerade, drawing gentlemen away from the party, and hinting at late-night assignations with her dance partners. All is going pleasurably according to plan—until the Roman god Fanny kisses during a masquerade turns out to be Matthew, Lord Lathbury, whose proposal she refused years ago.
Lathbury is charming, passionate, inventive—everything Fanny wants in a lover—but unfortunately, he’s on the hunt for a wife. He’s more than willing to use all his wicked skills to persuade her back to the altar, but he can’t wait forever. And now Fanny’s position is more precarious than she once thought. If the tongues of the ton set to wagging, it’s possible no offer in the world will save her from ruin. But does she want to be saved?
About the Author
Jenna Jaxon is the author of the House of Pleasure House series, as well as the historical romance trilogy Time Enough to Love. She lives in Virginia with her family and a small menagerie of pets. When not reading or writing, she indulges her passion for the theatre, working with local theatres as a director. Visit her at jennajaxon.wordpress.com, or on the social media platforms below.