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Hydropathy at Home: The Water Cure and Domestic Healing in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Britain


This article explores domestic practices of hydropathy in Britain, suggesting that these formed a major contribution to the popularity of the system in the mid-nineteenth century. Domestic hydropathy was encouraged by hydropathic practitioners in their manuals and in the training they provided at their establishments. We argue that hydropathy can be seen as belonging to two interacting spheres, the hydro and the home, and was associated with a mission to encourage self-healing practices as well as commercial interests. Home treatments were advocated as a follow-up to attendance at hydros and encouraged as a low-cost option for those unable to afford such visits. Domestic hydropathy emphasized the high profile of the patient and was depicted as being especially appropriate for women, though in many households it appears to have been a common concern between husbands and wives.