Contributed by Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum

When the Royal Pump Rooms in Leamington Spa were re-opened in 1863 its Hammam or Turkish bath suite was a major new attraction. The large arches show Moorish influence, but it uses standard bricks to create decorative patterns and Gothic motifs.

As well as the large domed "frigidarium", or cooling room, there were three heated rooms. The hottest was later divided to create another room, in which the temperature would rise to 200°F (93°C)!

The tiled floor was relaid in the 1880s, and rich paint schemes replaced the plain blue around the cooling room's lower wall. It was decorated with plants, and an early electric bulb cast a pink light of "eastern repose".

The Turkish bath at the Royal Pump Rooms soon gained high acclaim and widespread popularity, by 1900 it catered for between 50 and 60 bathers each week. By offering both a luxurious experience and a powerful therapeutic effect, the Turkish bath provided an arena in which health, pleasure, culture and curiosity could collide.

However, by the mid-1970s so few people used the Turkish bath that it was closed. The cooling room was covered in white paint and became the physiotherapists' staff room. It was restored 1997-1999

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