The hot room in the private Turkish bath at Cragside, Rothbury

Hot room in the Turkish bath suite at Cragside

< Photo: Shifrin

In addition to the hot room at Cragside, Lord Armstrong's private Turkish bath suite had a cooling/dressing room, and a plunge pool with shower. The  suite was almost certainly used by the Prince of Wales (a frequent patron of the Jermyn Street Hammam) on his visits to Cragside.

The house was originally built for Lord Armstrong to the design of an unknown architect early in the 1860s. It was much enlarged and reconstructed by Norman Shaw at the end of the decade. Shaw's plans for a Turkish bath suite under the library are dated 5 May 1870, but they were considerably altered before they were built. They were ready for use on 4 November. 1

It cannot be a coincidence that Lord Armstrong decided to build a Turkish bath at Cragside soon after he became a member of the House Committee of the Newcastle Infirmary. For, under the influence of George Crawshay and Sir John Fife, the Infirmary became the first of several English hospitals to open a Turkish bath for its patients.

Norman Shaw is not known to have previously built a Turkish bath, and it may well be that he took advice from the Tyneside architect, James Shotton.

Some time earlier, Shotton had built the first private Turkish bath in England for George Crawshay and also, in 1869, the Cecil Street Turkish baths in North Shields. Five years later, in 1874, Shotton went on to design the Pilgrim Street Turkish Baths for the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Turkish Bath Company Limited. The company secretary was John H Armstrong, its chairman was Addison Potter, and its shareholders included two Watsons, one of whom was a Director—all of whom were related to Lord Armstrong.

Cragside is now owned by the National Trust, is open to the public, and well worth a visit. My personal views on the building of the Turkish bath at Cragside do not necessarily agree with those of the trust. Further information will appear, in due course, in the directory section of the website.

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Heritaging the Victorian Turkish bath: creating a saleable asset

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Victorian Turkish Baths: their origin, development, and gradual decline

 
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NOTES
 1. Cragside: Northumberland. — London : The National Trust, 1992     [return]