Ever hear the old saying about throwing the baby out with the bath water? Well it refers to the possible consequences of one of the bathing rituals of people during Victorian times, which was when Oaklands Mansion was in its heyday. On Thursday, September 1 at 6:30 p.m., Deborah Belcher, Oaklands Board of Trustees President and a Middle Tennessee State University Professor of Interior Design, will discuss how the new collection of personal care items acquired by the museum were used in their time and share fascinating facts about bathing customs in the early years of American life.
The talk will take place in the front parlor, and will explore Victorian bathing customs, where people went to the bathroom, and general beliefs about personal hygiene. There will also be a display of the collection of bathing and items of necessity at a recently acquired by Oaklands, including a 1820’s porcelain bidet, two hat bathtubs and an early ironstone footbath.
“Our guests are often surprised to learn the similarities and differences between today’s bathing customs and our mid-Victorian ancestors” said James Manning, Executive Director of Oaklands Mansion on their Facebook page. “You know you have always wanted to know, now’s your chance to find out.”
When Hollywood spins tales about this period, they frequently leave out one important point – the smell. Much like the time of Louis XIV, two hundred years earlier, bathing was not quite as frequent as today and bathrooms were a bit more primitive. But in spite of all this, the clothing was opulent and women’s skirts were full and heavy, while their waists were unusually tiny.
So, how did men and women address self-care in such a time? Come listen to the presentation sponsored by PPG Paints. Open to the public, tickets are $25.00 per person, which includes light refreshments. Tickets are available here.