During the Georgian and Regency times, people believed in the curative effect of hot springs. In Bath, water had been pumped from the city’s hot springs since the Roman times, and visiting Bath became especially popular during the Georgian era.
In addition to drinking the healing Bath water at the Pump Room, many people liked to bathe in the hot springs. Around the corner from the Pump Room, as part of the same building, stand the King’s and Queen’s Baths, which were amongst the most popular bathing places in Bath. The Austen family were known to frequent these Baths during their stay in Bath.
The King’s Baths were built on the foundations of the Roman Baths as early as in the 12th Century. In the 16th Century, the Queen’s Baths were built on the south side of the building. The Baths were mixed with the exception of the Queen’s Baths, which admitted women only.
The interiors of the King’s and Queen’s Baths resemble the baths at the Roman Baths Museum (as below).
The style of bathing has changed somewhat throughout the centuries… during the Georgian times, men were dressed in shirts and drawers while the ladies were clad in a linen shift. The ladies and gentlemen, with water up to their necks, would wade through the warm water and mingle.
You might remember the haunting scene from (the equally haunting film) Northanger Abbey (1986) where Catherine visits the Baths and meets Ms Tilney for the first time.
The King’s and Queen’s Baths were used for bathing until 1939, after which the Baths have been closed, as it is now considered unhealthy to bathe in the waters, for fear of infection.
You can read more about the history of the King’s and Queen’s Baths at the following sites: