Taking a bath in the 1920s and 30s

In our previous blog entry, we shared Sybil Perry’s Memories of the water supply situation during her childhood. Having reminded us that mains water was not connected to the village until 1937, she went on to explain what bathtime was like before then.

Of course, minor ablutions could have been undertaken in the privacy of the bedroom at a washstand with a ewer (large mouthed jug) of water. (See our 2013 entry Wash ewer here!) Even so, the water would have been brought in from the well or pump and heated on the kitchen range, before it was carried up to the bedroom.

Sybil’s file includes pictures of the washstand and ewer.

Having a bath was a different matter and was usually done downstairs in front of the kitchen range. ‘All hot water, even for baths, had to be heated in kettles and saucepans on the kitchen range. There were no bathrooms or showers.’

Here is Sybil’s drawing of the kitchen range.

Sybil recorded the procedure in this paragraph.

Here is the galvanised iron ‘tin tub’.

The weekly bathtime was arranged so that the youngest were bathed first and put to bed, followed by older children and, then, the mother. Father’s turn was last. Sybil wondered ‘how often they changed the water!’

Sybil was seventeen by the time mains water came to Market Lavington. Even then, it was supplied to one tap over the kitchen sink, so water still had to be heated on the stove. Houses would have needed conversion of a room to a bathroom or the building of a new room to contain a bath with a water supply, before folk could begin to avail themselves of the facilities and privacy we take for granted.


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