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An historical geography of the Turkish bath in Victorian Britain

Jones, C; (2017) An historical geography of the Turkish bath in Victorian Britain. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines the revival of the Turkish bath in Britain during the Victorian period, and the subsequent development of a Turkish bath movement. This thesis is framed around David Urquhart's four claims he made for the Turkish bath in his travelogue, The Pillars of Hercules published in 1850. Urquhart's claims centred on the concept of improvement, through raising standards of cleanliness, curing disease, preventing intemperance and encouraging social integration. This research distinguishes between the motives of the promoters of the Turkish bath, and the bathers opting to visit the bath. The historic archive studied, primarily of material designed to promote the Turkish bath movement, or deride and attack it for its perceived faults, demonstrates the improvement motivations had limited success, particularly in the context of a Foucauldian framework. Through its descriptive account of the baths' architecture, location and operation, this thesis highlights shifting differences between the ambition of the revival movement advocates and the reality of Turkish bath users' experience. While health, hygiene and reform featured heavily in the former, the latter adopted a less well defined motivation around well-being focussed around the pursuit of leisure. Despite its very public promotion and the romanticism surrounding the Turkish bath movement, the benefits and impact of the revival in the second half of the nineteenth century were relatively limited — particularly in comparison to Urquhart's original four claims made in The Pillars of Hercules.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: An historical geography of the Turkish bath in Victorian Britain
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1551624
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