Victorians by the Sea Shore

C.M. Yonge shows how, during the nineteenth century, the British public began to take a keen interest in the wonders of their native beaches.

Visits to British shores have had a medicinal origin arising from interest in the ‘water-cure’, first recommended by a certain Dr Wittie of Scarborough as early as 1660, which found increasing support in the eighteenth century.

It culminated in the erudite De Tabe Glandulari published by Dr Richard Russel in 1749, four years later issued to a wider public as A Dissertation concerning the Use of sea-water in Diseases of the Glands. At the same time Russel moved to the village of Brighthelmstone. His fortune and the future success of Brighton, although, like Scarborough, largely the haunt of the favoured few, were assured.

Interest in the marine fauna remained confined to its more edible members, although Linnaeus, from his professorial chair at Uppsala, was revealing the pattern of the Creator’s works.

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