Cold Bathing in Bath

 You never know when your left-over research work will come in handy for another job.

 You may have read, a few months ago, about the discovery of a rare Georgian ‘cold bath’ under the floor of the Assembly Rooms, Bath. During the excavation work in the basement, carried out by Wessex Archaeology, tons of rubble left after the April 1942 Luftwaffe ‘Bath Blitz’, were removed to reveal the steps down into the cold bath and a niche which probably held a statue or sculpture. Head archaeologist, Bruce Eaton, thought it that it might be the only cold bath of its kind.

 Archaeologists uncover rare 18th-century cold bath   

Cold bathing rang a bell, and I remembered finding The History of Cold Bathing, Ancient and Modern, 1709 in a tiny library tucked away in the parvise – a room above a church porch, of  St Mary’s Church, Steeple Ashton. I was researching village life for an article for Wiltshire Life  –March 2019,  and arranged for the churchwarden to show me round the church and access to the library. I was enchanted by the little library and took loads of pictures of what caught my eye, and the more unusual books.

 I emailed Bruce  Eaton who expressed interest in it, and  forwarded my email and images to the National Trust, which now looks after the Assembly Rooms. ‘Their project team push on with the renovation and interpretation of the building.’

I read that they have a copy of The New Bath Guide of 1778, which mentions ‘a commodious cold-bath, with convenient dressing-rooms’. These 18th century books show that cold water bathing is not a new idea.  Today, it is a popular activity with outdoor swimming clubs  – wilder than our Georgian gentry with their private spaces.

Even Dr Michael  Mosley – health guru to the nation  – promoter of intermittent fasting,  presenter of Just One Thing on BBC Radio 4, has been extolling the virtue of Cold Therapy