Grandad's Watton


Another activity which called for some ingenuity due to the lack of mains water and drainage was the performance of "having a bath". Very few houses had bathrooms and the ablution programme depended to some extent on inclination and family circumstances. Even within the bonds of matrimony the idea of having a bath with any kind of audience was regarded as "not nice' and one solution would be for father to go for a drink leaving mother and perhaps daughters to install the long bath on the hearthrug and have a bit of a splash with water heated on the fire in large cast iron saucepans. When father returned the female members of the household might decide that they felt a little tired and were ready for bed and thereby enable the man of the house to remove the week's grime in the privacy of his own living room and in front of his own fire. For some larger families with father, mother, sons and daughters and perhaps a lodger this solution was not possible, and having "a bit of a swill down" in the kitchen or shed could become a more hazardous adventure. Requirements were a small tin bath or large round bowl, a kettle or two of hot water, a lump of carbolic soap and an ability to balance first on one leg and then on the other. Complete undressing was usually avoided because with larger families one never knew who was going to open a door or shut one, a situation which produced a tendency to "wash up as far as possible and down as far as possible", and poor old possible didn't get washed at all.



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