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D-shaped hot-water bottle, Nottingham, England, 1880-1940

This hot-water bottle was probably used to warm patients’ beds or as a foot warmer. It is made of glazed earthenware and was used at Farnborough Hospital, now called the Princess Royal University Hospital, in Kent, England. It is shown here with a similar example (1988-610).

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Glossary: hot-water bottle

A container usually made of rubber, filled with hot water especially to warm a bed.Containers for warmth in bed were in use as early as the 16th century. The earliest versions contained hot coals from the dying embers of the fire, and these bed warmers were used to warm the bed before getting into it. Very soon after this, containers with hot water became used. Use of hot water bottles declined in the 20th century as homes became better heated, and recently due to the increase in use of electric blankets.