Our new season is now open: Spring 1677 !
Located in Park Street the Windsor Baths were a popular establishment.
'Bathhouse' was, in truth, too austere a word to describe the cornucopia of decadent entertainment to be found at the Windsor Baths. While they certainly served their hygienic purpose well, no elite leisure is ever simple, and such held as true with a bath house as it did with a palace salon. The exterior showed no particular promise, being an older complex reminiscent of the years before the extravagance of the Baroque style fully developed, but a step within proved the Baths were well up to modern fashions. The baths were a place not only for washing, but for primping, preening, and socialisation. The less formal attire required for bathing made for an easier atmosphere to that of the palace, one in which the impropriety Charles' court was famed for could truly run rampant.
Comfort and luxury were the order of the day as far as the baths were concerned, and no expense had been spared. A lavishly decorated foyer allowed access to two separate areas - to the left, a heavy blue velvet curtain allowed entrance to the men's baths, to the right a red for the ladies. A servant always stood watch to ensure proper segregation, but it was not unheard of for sufficient distraction to shake her concentration upon the task at hand.
The hefty sum of a pound was charged for entry.
Wearing underwear sufficient to only cover the most sensitive areas of a gentleman's anatomy, a gentleman entering the baths would find himself first in a room dominated by an enormous, sweet-scented bath. Steam rose constantly from the surface, the heat inside the bath house a comfortable contrast to the bitter cold outside. To one side of the bath, a wall was dominated by a Romanesque fountain, sirens and mermaids lounging amidst cascading water that ensured the room was never silent. Sitting by the fountain, one might almost be assured of private conversation. From one mermaid's hands a fountain of warm water spouted high, then down direclty into the baths.
For those seeking to perform their ablutions with an even greater semblance of privacy, curtained archways gave way to several rooms hosting smaller pools that might fit up to 5 gentlemen.
Another archway was sealed with a door rather than a curtain, behind which would be found a room heated to almost unbearable temperatures. In its center burned coals, with a water handy to be tipped over them and bring forth steam. Just beside the door outside, a stone cold bath was recessed into the wall.
One more door led to a walled outdoor area. The cold air temperature was tempered by a dip into a steaming hot bath. Three sides boasted stone walls - the third was a wicker fence, behind which lay the ladies baths. It was an easy thing to hear and converse with the ladies on the other side, and a very enterprising man might find the occasional illusive peekhole...
Upon entering the central bath, clad only in her shift, the bathing lady would find herself first with a choice - lavender, sage and mint, or rosemary? Three baths formed a ring about a central fountain, occupied by musician cherubs, from whose lips and instruments water flowed forth.
For those seeking to perform their ablutions with an even greater semblance of privacy, curtained archways gave way to several rooms hosting smaller pools that might fit up to 5 ladies.
Another archway led to a room in which the bath was filled not only with water, but also with a hint of honey and buttermilk. From the cloudy water rose an almost irresistible scent, overhanging frescoes giving the room an almost cavelike feel.
In the same manner as the men's baths, a doorway led to a sauna, accompanied by a cold bath.
The women could enjoy an outdoor bath, one wall being wicker instead of stone, beyond which bathed the men. The enterprising lady was just as capable of gaining an elusive glimpse through the fence as her male counterpart, should she so choose.