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As early as the mid‐13th century the Palace of Westminster had bathrooms for the king and queen. In 1351–2 the king's bath was fitted with ‘two large bronze taps … to bring hot and cold water to the bath’. The majority of medieval castles and manor houses had no bathrooms. Baths were installed in the great country houses of the late 16th and 17th centuries, after Queen Elizabeth I had started the fashion of having a bath once a month, ‘whether she needed it or no’. Well into the 19th century, however, most country houses relied on hip baths and basins fitted in bedrooms. The Victorian villas of the middle classes had bathrooms, and towards the end of the 19th century so did the terraced houses of the lower‐middle classes. The council houses of the 20th century were generally fitted with bathrooms, but the tin bathtub in front of the fire remained the normal method of bathing for many working‐class families for much of the first half of the 20th century and sometimes later. The shower bath, which was invented early in the 19th century, became available to most sections of society during the last third of the 20th century.

Subjects: History.

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