Tuesday, October 10, 2017

1779 Spas, Wells, & Baths for Health - Bagnigge Wells "loose women & boys whose morals are depraved."

The Beauties of Bagnigge Wells. 1778 by Robert Sayer published by J. Bennett.  Bagnigge Wells was a popular spa in St Pancras. It thrived to the end of the 18C having a reputation for "loose women and boys whose morals are depraved." In this mezzotint a highly fashionable woman with an enormous hat - perhaps a prostitute - flirts with a passing rake while his faithful spaniel looks on.  In the background another lady is walking arm in arm with a short, older man, while 2 other couples walk or converse by a small round pond with a fountain.  At the rear, a party dine in the arch of a colonnade in the manner of a Vauxhall supper box.

Bagnigge Wells became a place of entertainment for rusticating Londoners as early as 1680. The garden possessed fruit-trees; & at the north side stood a picturesque gable-ended house, the front luxuriously covered with vines. At the back stood a small brewery, The "Pinder of Wakefield" was an old public-house in the Gray's Inn Road.  It was said that a black woman named Woolaston lived near one of the fountains, & sold the water, & that it sometimes was called "Black Mary's Hole."  In the "Shrubs of Parnassus," poems on several occasions, by W. Woty, otherwise "John Copywell," published in 1760, there are some lines entitled "Bagnigge Wells," wherein the following allusion is made to these springs:
"And stil'd the place
Black Mary's Hole—there stands a dome superb,
Hight Bagnigge; where from our forefathers hid,
Long have two springs in dull stagnation slept;
But taught at length by subtle art to flow,
They rise, forth from oblivion's bed they rise,
And manifest their virtues to mankind."


THY arbours, Bagnigge, and the gay alcove,
Where the frail Nymphs in am'rous dalliance rove;
Where prentic'd Youths enjoy the Sunday feast,
And City Matrons boast their Sabbath's rest
Where unfledged Templars first as fops parade,
And new made Ensigns sport their first cockade.
(Probably by CHURCHILL), 1779.