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King's Lynn Union Workhouse Turkish Baths
1863 Turkish baths
   King's Lynn Poor Law Union
1864 Turkish Baths
   King's Lynn Poor Law Union
   It is not yet known how long the baths remained in use

King's Lynn Workhouse

Photo: rear of entrance block from the south-east, 2002
courtesy of Peter Higginbotham

It is not yet known when this Turkish bath was opened. It was certainly open in 1864 as it was mentioned in a local newspaper1 quoting from a recently published book.2 The author, Senior Physician to the Royal Infirmary for Diseases of the Chest, writes that the bath 'proves of great service both to the sick and the healthy' and recommends it for consideration by all workhouse managers.

The writer goes on to praise Mr. Kendall, the Medical Officer to the Lynn Workhouse, who, he claims, was responsible for introducing the first hot air bath 'for the benefit of the poor in the manner described'.

If this is correct, then the Turkish bath must have been installed early in 1863 (or even before then) as it is known that the workhouses at Fermoy and Lismore both had such baths by then.

It is possible that the author was unaware of the baths in Ireland and really meant that the Turkish bath at King's Lynn was the first to be installed in a workhouse in England.

Further research is needed here, not only to determine when the baths were actually opened, but how they were used and how long they survived. The workhouse itself, latterly St James' Hospital, closed in 1985.

Page first published 13 September 2006;
slightly revised 19 February 2011

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Peter Higginbotham, for permission to quote from the report on his website: