Bottle of medicinal water taken from the hot spring of St. Rock, Bagneres de Bigorre, France, 1928
The bottle of medicinal water on the far left was collected from the hot spring of St Roch at the spa town of Bagnères de Bigorre in south-west France. Hot springs and mineral waters were popular in a number of ancient cultures – including Greek and Roman. Centuries later, a renewed interest in the healing and medicinal properties of these natural waters reached a peak in the Victorian period with hundreds of sites across Europe packed with visitors coming to ‘take the waters’ in the hope of a cure.
The handwritten label gives the date, “17 March 1928”, the temperature of the spring, “47ºC” (117ºF), and indicates that it is to be used for the nerves. Once cooled the water was either drunk or applied to the body. St Roch, a pilgrim from Montpellier, France, during the 1300s, was said to cure plague and other infectious diseases. As a saint, he is one of several who was commonly invoked against the plague. The bottle is shown here with three others from the same region of France (A103805, A103806, A103807).