Sea Bathing in the Victorian Era

…it is, unquestionable that bathing in the open sea is, in itself, a powerful restorative agency, which many persons may employ with very great advantage.

Scientific American Volume 49 Number 07 (August 1883); Page 104; Sea Bathing

It was this belief in the sea’s ‘powerful restorative agency’ that resulted in the increased popularity of sea bathing throughout the Victorian era. People flocked to the beach to partake in the benefits of bathing as it was considered “absolutely essential to enable the skin to perform its important bodily functions…” Of all types of bathing, sea bathing was considered the best.

…but sea bathing excels all other modes of ablution in that it has a strong tonic effect on the system, and is combined with fresh air and thorough though not exhaustive muscular exercise.

The Port Augusta Dispatch, Newcastle and Flinders Chronicle (SA : 1885 – 1916); 2 November 1885; Page 2; Bathing
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Trove Tuesday – The Bird Hat

While considering a blog post for Trove Tuesday, I thought perhaps I would search for images relating to Victorian era fashion (a favourite topic of mine). I picked a year (1887), searched using the word ‘ladies’ and refined my results so that only the pages with illustrations would be listed. The below image was at the top of the list and after looking at the image my first thought was, “Why are there cats on their hats?”

cats-dogs

I then read the caption and quickly realised that the cartoon related to the terrible trend in which whole birds were placed on ladies’ hats, all in the name of fashion. While I am unsure if the newspaper was in earnest with respect to the use of cats or was actually writing tongue-in-cheek, it nevertheless sparked my curiosity with respect to the use of birds on hats and I turned my attention towards searching for historical images.

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