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A Brief History of the Bath

Published: 4th Aug 2022Read Time: 4 min

For many, the bath is the penultimate luxury fixture of a dream bathroom. Often positioned centre stage, a bath signifies rest and relaxation and a way of washing away the day's woes. But have you ever wondered just how this fabulous bathroom fixture came to be? Here, The Bathroom Showroom introduces the start of a short informative series. Every month we'll look into the origins of many of our bathroom fixtures. To start, we begin with the spectacular origins of the bath.

The First Bath Can Be Traced Back to Ancient Times

Considered one of the earliest public baths in history, archaeologists believe that The Great Bath of Mohenjo-daro remains the world’s oldest standing public bathhouse. 

Dating back to prehistoric times, the Great Bath is located in Pakistan and measures 40 feet by 22 feet. This was considered the purest form of a bath with the sea and rivers supplying raw and original water here. 

The earliest known public baths became a main form of bathing during ancient times. This was particularly so for those with no access to private bathing facilities.

The Roman Era Was the Pinnacle of the Bath

Perhaps the era most known for its love of baths has to be that of the Romans. The Romans loved their public bathing facilities so much that the city of Bath took its name from their fabulous creations! 

A splendid display of baths was constructed by the Romans and each one was a highly complex construction. They were some of the first people to implement sophisticated water systems through hydrothermal springs.  

For Romans, baths were the hub of the cities and towns. They boasted various plunged baths with graded temperatures throughout many buildings. 

Yet again, public Roman bath houses were created for a majority. This was in response to only the rich having access to private bath houses.

Mediaeval Times Signalled Bath Disrepair 

Unfortunately, all the good of the Roman era came undone by the time the Dark Ages rolled around. With the majority of Roman baths falling into disrepair, most public baths become unusable. 

At this time, so many public bathing areas closed their doors. Europe then entered a period of uncleanliness. This time was merely heightened by the arrival of the Bubonic plague. 

So many people were scared off from bathing, fearing illness from the water. Here it was believed dirt would act as a barrier against disease. At this time, only specific religious groups believed in the power of cleanliness through bathing.

Eighteen Century Bathing Signalled Small Bathing Changes

With the arrival of the eighteenth century came a wave of new ideas. Experts realised that water could be used as a means of therapy and curing people. 

It took until the early 1800s for the Roman baths to be opened once more to all members of the public. Yet, it still wasn't until the late 1800s that the importance of handwashing became clear! Thus, a new knowledge of the benefits of bathing began to emerge.

The Nineteenth Century Arrival of The Home Bath

Finally, the late 1900s brought with it a better insight to sanitation and hygiene. The Civil War made doctors realise the value of cleaning to stay free from diseases.

But ultimately, it was the invention of the world's first bath tub that brought bathing to everyone, as opposed to the rich few. 

In 1883, John Michael Kohler combined a cast iron horse trough with four decorative feet. Completing his design with an enamel finish, Kohler’s invention was the world’s very first enamelled claw foot tub.

Current Day Bath Choices

Our Roman ancestors would have been proud of the fantastic strides made with our baths. By taking the sheer practical need of Roman style baths, we've been able to create an enviable home bath. 

Koler’s bath designs have made bathing accessible for so many homeowners. From freestanding baths to shower baths, the bath remains a luxurious sanctuary in a hectic 21st century. 

If you’re considering a new bath, book an appointment with The Bathroom Showroom. Experts in all things bathrooms, we can help turn your dream bathroom into a reality. For more bathroom ideas and bathroom inspiration, take a look at our Rest and Relaxation blog section.