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May 31st – a red letter day: “Resum’d my bath”!

Personal hygiene was never a strong-point for Richard Hall, and, as I have mentioned before, he rarely bathed. A two-month interval between such ablutions was normal, and if for any reason the interval was less, he described the process as being a ‘continuation’.

And so in his diary for 31st May 1773 we have this splendid entry:

“Resum’d my Bath and thro’ Mercy was carried very well through it.”

bath time 001

Clearly taking a bath was seen as a risky activity, and one which Richard did not repeat until the height of summer…. I think another dab of Eau de Cologne on the hanky might be called for!


Post script: Just in case you feel that I am being unfair to grandpa, and wish to point out that he may well have wash’d his important little places in between bath-times, he may not have been fastidious about washing but he was fastidious about recording such instances in his diary! We even have:


                                                 “Fine day – not quite so hot. Washed feet.”


3 thoughts on “May 31st – a red letter day: “Resum’d my bath”!”

  1. Linen undergarments absorb sweat and body odour quite efficiently, and they felt that if you wore clean linen every day, it also cleaned the body. Probably they were right to a certain extent. And if, in addition, you used a damp flannel when necessary, you could probably remain pretty clean.

    If we had to bathe in draughty rooms in a tiny hip bath with water heated on a stove, we’d also probably also do it less often.

  2. Believe me, having lived for many years with an unheated north facing bathroom, a swift flannel bath in the mornings is all I have every wanted in the winter… having managed to insulate under the bath [the wind blows in through the floorboards something cruel] and and the window well taped up with bubble wrap too, not a resource available to Richard, and with a little oil heater introduced into the room, bathing in winter in water that stayed warmish for more than the time it took to get into it became possible. I sympathise with him! as Mark says, good linen underclothes wick away a lot of sweat and body odour, and can be boiled to clean them, so it may not have been quite as gruesome as it sounds. Though if he had to note washing in his journal, maybe on the other hand it might have been…..

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