In 1781 London, childless couples paid to spend a night together in the Celestial Bed. The fee ranged up to 500 pounds, payable to one Dr. John Graham, a physician from Edinburgh, Scotland. He was a pioneer in sex therapy and sexology and his cures for ailments of this sort were fashionable among upper society members. Some considered them nothing short of miraculous. He opened a Temple of Health in the Royal Terrace of the Adelphi, attended by servants, where he administered special baths, provided musical therapy, sat the patients on magnetic thrones or gave them mild shocks in an electric chair. In this edifice, his assistant was the lovely Emma Hart, who later became Lady Hamilton and Lord Nelson’s mistress. While scantily dressed in robes, she entertained the paying patients as the “Rosy Goddess of Health.” No mention of just how she entertained them, only that she did. I leave that to the reader’s imagination.
The Temple of Hymen
Another Celestial Bed, launched in a new Temple of Hymen in 1781, in Schomberg House at Pall Mall, was the cure most couples were anxious to try. A magnificent piece of equipment, the ornate bed stood on eight brass pillars. In his advertisements Dr. Graham said its curative powers were owing to “about 15 cwt of compound magnets…continually pouring forth in an everlasting circle.”
The splendid bed was 12 feet by 9 feet, canopied with a dome, a musical automaton, fresh flowers, and a live pair of turtle doves. The couple, while inside the dome, would receive stimulating oriental fragrances and “aethereal” gasses released from a reservoir inside the dome. The bed, built with a tilting inner frame, put couples in the best possible position to conceive and their movements set off music from organ pipes which breathed out “celestial” sounds that increased with the ardor of the couple. Electrified and magnetic, the bed stood insulated with 40 glass pillars. At the head of the bed, above a moving clockwork celebrating Hymen, the God of Marriage, were these words sparkling with electricity:
“Be Fruitful, Multiply and Replenish The Earth”
No statistics are available as to how many couples conceived in this magnificent bed, but many gladly paid the fee to experience its promise. Eventually, the public learned that Dr. Graham DID train in medicine, but left without earning a degree. He was not a real doctor and definitely not the fount of knowledge attributed to him. In his last years he fell on hard financial times, closing down the Temple of Health in Adelphi. He then began to propose another therapy known as “earth bathing,” which involved being buried up to your neck in dirt. He became a preacher and opposed the views of Joseph Priestley. There were times he became confined to his home as a lunatic due to his erratic behavior. At the end of 1792, Graham began an experiment with extended fasting to prolong his life. He was obviously wrong about that too, as he died at his home in Edinburgh in 1794.