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White circular hot-water bottle, England, 1900-1940

The size and shape of this hot-water bottle suggests that it was used to warm beds. The cap on the top could be unscrewed, allowing the bottle to be filled with hot water. This hot-water bottle was made from glazed earthenware by Royal Doulton, a famous ceramics and pottery maker once based in Lambeth, London, but now found in the Staffordshire Potteries area. This object was used at the Farnborough Hospital, Kent, England, which has since been re-named the Princess Royal University Hospital. It is shown here with a similar example (1988-609.)

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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.