Diary of Francis Kilvert

Thursday 24 July 1873

"This morning Uncle Will, Dora and I drove to Seaton with Polly and the dog cart. It was a lovely morning. At Seaton while Dora was sitting on the beach I had a bathe. A boy brought me to the machine door two towels as I thought, but when I found that one of the rags he had given me was a pair of very short red and white striped drawers to cover my nakendness. Unaccustomed to such things and customs I had in my ignorance bathed naked and set at naught the conventionalities of the place and scandalized the beach. However some little boys who were looking on at the rude naked man appeared to be much interested in the spectacle, and the young ladies who were strolling near seemed to have no objection."

Friday 12 June 1874 [Isle of Wight]

"Bathing yesterday and to-day ... At Shanklin one has to adopt the detestable custom of bathing in drawers. If ladies don't like to see men naked why don't they keep away from the sight? To-day I had a pair of drawers given me which I could not keep on. The rough waves stripped them off and tore them round my ancles [sic]. While thus fettered I was seized and flung down by a heavy sea which retreating suddenly left me lying naked on the shingle from which I rose streaming with blood. After this I took the wretched and dangerous rag off and course there were some ladies looking on as I came up out of the water."

Source: Kilvert, 1977, pp. 236, 266-7

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