In the eighteenth century most large country estates boasted a bathing house or plunge pool in their grounds: fashionable theories promoted a cold plunge for both sexes for health and hygiene purposes. Built in all shapes and sizes, sometimes just for one person, occasionally for group bathing, they often reflected classical design.
In addition to supposed health benefits, plunge pools provided somewhere away from the constraints and formality of life, and became a destination for walks, drives and alfresco entertainment. Mid-century, doctors began to promote salt-water bathing and a new generation of coastal bathing houses grew up. From several hundred bathing houses and plunge pools still in existence, often in remote corners of beautiful landscapes, this book presents examples that reflect the diversity of the ideas and fashions which inspired them.