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Victorian Turkish Baths

Turkish baths were introduced to Britain by David Urquhart, diplomat and sometime Member of Parliament for Stafford, who for political and personal reasons wished to popularize Turkish culture.

In 1850 he wrote The Pillars of Hercules, a book about his travels in 1848 through Spain and Morocco. He described the system of dry hot-air baths used there and in the Ottoman Empire which had changed little since Roman times.

In 1856 Richard Barter read Urquhart’s book and worked with him to construct a bath. They opened the first modern Turkish bath at St Ann’s Hydropathic Establishment near Blarney, County Cork, Ireland.

The following year, the first public bath of its type to be built in mainland Britain since Roman times was opened in Manchester, and the idea spread rapidly. It reached London in July 1860, when Roger Evans, a member of one of Urquhart’s Foreign Affairs Committees, opened a Turkish bath at 5 Bell Street, near Marble Arch.

During the following 150 years, over 600 Turkish baths opened in Britain.

For more information see: http://www.victorianturkishbath.org/

  1857  /  History  /  Last Updated January 27, 2014 by Muslim Museum  /  Tags: