Wanton dalliancies… panting breasts… just another day in Bath


There are many historical anecdotes relating to the ‘taking of the waters’ in the English city of Bath. Ned Ward wrote in 1700 that he had experienced ‘wanton dalliancies, celebrated beauties, panting breasts, languishing eyes, and curious shapes almost exposed to public view’.

Around the same time, it became popular not only to bathe in the hot waters here, but to drink them as well. Accordingly, a special ‘pump room’ was built here in 1706 – only to be replaced around 90 years later by the present Pump Room, which is next to the Roman Baths.

As well as being a place to take the waters, the Pump Room soon became popular as a destination for the high society that was rapidly beginning to take shape in Bath. The Pump Rooms was essentially a meeting place, with its own band of musicians employed to entertain visitors. Remarkably, the Pump Room Trio still performs in the room, which is now a restaurant, on a daily basis.

The Pump Room’s most famous master of ceremonies was Richard Nash, nicknamed “Beau” Nash, and a statue of him remains here to this day. There is also a plaque dedicated to Beau Nash, recognised as one of Bath’s most famous residents, outside the Theatre Royal.

Find out more about The Pump Room on our Bath tour. Click here for more information

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