Making a Splash!

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14 - 18 August 2013

Following the success of 2011’s 'Treasured Islands' archaeological investigation of the Quebec, the next archaeological project addressing conservation issues at Studley Royal will be targeted on its lost Bathing House.

Bathing, for health and relaxation, was a feature of a number of Georgian Houses and gardens. John Aislabie built his bathing house in the 1730s, set into the slopes to the south of the Banqueting House, overlooking Drum Fall and the Rustic Bridge.

A classically inspired building, it consisted of a changing room and a covered plunge pool (fed by spring water), linked by a central corridor. It seems to have been very similar in design to one at Gibside in Northumberland.

The building was demolished in the 1850s, becoming one of the garden’s lost features, without any trace of which the complete Aislabie vision for Studley is hard to envisage.

The archaeological investigation in August aims to resolve two basic conservation management issues – control of the spring water supply that still runs and floods the path and slopes below, and understanding any archaeological remains that survive, so that they can be appropriately conserved. It’s perfectly possible that much of the building’s decorative interior was tipped into the deep plunge pool and remains there today. The work will also determine whether it would be practical to conserve the remains on display, so that this lost building can, in some way, be returned to view.

The project will also celebrate the excitement and unpredictability of archaeological investigations – a real opportunity for visitors to see new pages of Studley’s history emerging from the ground after almost two centuries of obscurity. Supporting interpretation will also explore the Georgian’s surprising opinions on health, bathing, recreation and sensuality.

Come and see the work between August 14 and 18.

Read more in our blog.

Watch our Lead Archeologist's video diary here.