J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

The King’s Bathtub Rediscovered

From the Guardian, 5 February:
As two centuries of lumber was cleared out of the abandoned Georgian kitchens at Kew Palace in west London – the smallest of the royal residences – a unique and poignant piece of royal history was uncovered.

The brown tin tub found stashed away in a chimney opening was the bath in which King George III took regular soakings in hot water, a prescription to calm him as he and his attendants wrestled with his terrifying bouts of mania.

At that time, the early 1800s, he was assumed to have been mad; he is now believed to have developed the hereditary condition porphyria. He was virtually imprisoned at Kew to prevent a political crisis if the full extent of his condition became known, as the previously gentle and clever king roared obscenities and terrified his wife, Queen Charlotte.

The discovery bears out a Kew legend that the tormented king took his baths not in the sumptuously furnished main house, but amid the domestic clatter of the royal kitchen.
Here’s the link to the Guardian article, but I have to warn you that page kept crashing my browser. It doesn’t show the actual tub, which will go on display at the palace.

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