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Psychrolutic Society



Administrative / Biographical history

These papers relate to a number of different but closely linked societies, all dedicated to swimming. The Psychrolutes are the earliest, being founded in 1828 apparently at Cambridge. Qualification for membership was the practice of bathing out of doors between November and March. Other members came from Eton and Oxford. In 1833 it appears that their remaining funds were handed to the 'Eton Royal Philolutic Society'. This had been established in 1832, for the lovers of bathing in general rather than winter bathing, and its leading lights were William Evans and George Selwyn, later Bishop of New Zealand. The membership overlapped (e.g. Lancelot Shadwell, first Treasurer of the Psychrolutes, heads the list of the Eton Philolutic Society), and a volume that starts with a list of members of the Eton Philolutic Society continues with the accounts of the Eton Philopsychrolutic Society. Possibly the Philopsychrolutes were those who belonged to both societies, though of course it was possible to be a Philolute without being a Psychrolute. Hawtrey, as Head Master, authorised the Philolutes to do anything that would promote 'the safe and efficient practice of Philolutism' and the Philolutic Committee's first report states that the Treasurer should be 'one of the following Philolutes', whose names are then bracketed as the Philopsychrolutic Committee. It was this Society, and especially Evans and Selwyn, who placed swimming and boating on an organised footing at Eton. A note by Evans in the front of /1 says that the Society of Psychrolutes lost its vitality when Selwyn left for New Zealand (in 1841) and that by 1857, although it still existed, its officers were strictly speaking Philolutes only.


1828 - 1922

Associated material

MEL 419; MEL 617
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