Holidays at Dieppe Baths

There are records of Colonel Thorn and family visiting the Dieppe baths on June 15th, 1831; July or August 1842; and then again in 1844, which suggests they might have gone there for an annual summer holiday while they lived in France.

The baths were a popular holiday destination in Northern France and seemed to also be a casino – curious exercise in marketing, when you think about it. Marie-Caroline, Duchess of Berry, daughter of King Charles X is attributed with making sea bathing fashionable. The idea caught on from 1820’s onwards and attracted courtiers and artists. Rossini is mentioned as being one of them.

In 1831, Mrs Thorn mentions in a letter to Elizabeth Hait (another post coming on this), that she was “at Dieppe, with all the family for a change of air.”

Dieppe baths and casino

Then in 1842 the record (below) also mentions a visit with M. le baron de Varennes et Madame, which I am guessing means Mary Jane Jauncey and Camille de Varaigne accompanied them.

These countryside and this sea are so beautiful that they are the envy of the proud and noble Brighton. What good are these sumptuous waters where there are only palaces which bathe and these chalk campaigns where one walks even less. For those who have seen Dieppe on a fine day with its world of elegant visitors, its memory remains forever alive in the memory, like its lighthouse of Ailly standing on the lonely beach. Visitors include: Colonel Thorn and his family. M. le baron de Varennes and Madame.

Of course “bathing” for the women at that time, meant wearing a full dress into the water. Though a few years later, they began to bare their ankles.

Dieppe lithograph with Casino in the distance

The third mention in 1844, is after they were robbed by Mrs Thorn’s ladies maid. It seems the Thorn’s were robbed many times, despite having a guard. I’ll also delve into this soon.

Mrs Thorn clearly enjoyed being by the water, as she spent much of her later years (after her husband died) at Pequot House in Connecticut on the river mouth. Perhaps it reminded her of happy days at Dieppe, a decade or so before.

Thirty years after the Colonel’s visit, Dieppe became a subject for impressionist artists, Monet and Gaugin.

Bathing at Dieppe – Gaugin 1885

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