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Previously of little interest to anyone but fishermen, Britain's coastline gained popularity with the fashion for a medicinal dip. References to bathing in the sea - as opposed to the spas already popular with the gentry - were made as early as 1732. King George III set an example followed by many upper-class Britons when, in 1789, he went skinny-dipping at Weymouth.
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Possibly the divorce of Henry VIII from Catherine of Aragon. It led to a break with Rome and the monasteries and changed Britain's social and cultural life forever.
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