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p-privies-msg - 4/17/08


Period privies. Period toilet paper. bum-wipes.


NOTE: See also the files: 12thC-Hole-art, bathing-msg, p-hygiene-msg, perfumes-msg, Perfumes-bib, incense-msg, Man-d-Mujeres-art, Tubd-a-Scrubd-art.





This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.


This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.


The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.


Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).


Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org



From: cozzlab at garnet.berkeley.edu ()

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Period toilet papers?

Date: 8 Apr 1993 16:17:41 GMT

Organization: University of California, Berkeley


asgds at acad2.alaska.edu writes:

>      I was recently talking to someone about doing an as period as possible

>5 day hike and camp out.  And the subject of toilet paper and it's period

>equivilents came up.  Well, what did they wipe their bums with in period.


In monasteries, straw.  Out in the woods, probably leaves (chimpanzees

do this sometimes).  In the desert, sand.


And anywhere, with your _left hand._  Then you eat with your right hand

only.  Period etiquette which as I understand it still holdes good in

Islamic countries.


Dorothea of Caer-Myrddin          Dorothy J. Heydt

Mists/Mists/West                   UC Berkeley

Argent, a cross forme'e sable           cozzlab at garnet.berkeley.edu



From: timsmith at oasys.dt.navy.mil (Timothy Smith)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Period toilet papers?

Date: 8 Apr 93 18:39:42 GMT

Organization: The David Taylor Model Basin


Poklon k Rialtogorod ot Timofeya Ivanovichya!


asgds at acad2.alaska.edu writes:

>       I was recently talking to someone about doing an as period as possible

>5 day hike and camp out.  And the subjuect of toilet paper and it's period

>equivilents came up.  Well, what did they wipe their bums with in period.


It's been years since I read it, but there's a whole chapter in Rabelais'

_Gargantua and Pantagruel_ on what the giant Gangantua tried in his

quest for the perfect bum-wipe.  Whole sheep, oxhides and fir trees

(NB:  direction vector important!) were some of the more memorable suggestions.


If you've got a strong stomach and unsplittable sides, I can heartily

recommend this period and ribald classic.




Timofei Ivanovitch      Ponte Alto     Atlantia

--- Tim Smith ---  timsmith at oasys.dt.navy.mil ---- (301)227-1611 ---

----- Code 1522, David Taylor Model Basin, Bethesda, MD 20084 -----



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: n9110536 at henson.cc.wwu.edu (W. Douglas West)

Subject: Re: Period toilet papers?

Organization: Western Washington University

Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1993 20:16:31 GMT


asgds at acad2.alaska.edu writes:

>       I was recently talking to someone about doing an as period as possible

>5 day hike and camp out.  And the subjuect of toilet paper and it's period

>equivilents came up.  Well, what did they wipe their bums with in period.

I have an Old Farmer's Almanac, which I'll quote from when I get home, that

has an article on this subject.  From memory comes corn cobs soaked in a rain

barrel and mussel shells.  ( Of course, being the OFA, they also refer to

the old mainstay - the Sears & Roebuck Catalogue. ) They also have the date

that the first "toilet paper" was introduced.  I don't remember the date, but

the company was the London Perforated Paper Company.

More later.

(St.) George Slade the Dragoon


Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: tbarnes at silver.ucs.indiana.edu (thomas wrentmore barnes)

Subject: Re: Period toilet papers?

Organization: Indiana University

Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1993 22:31:02 GMT


I have read in Bishop's The American Heritage Book of the Middle Ages (a

moderately good coffee table book, edited by a very good medievalist)

that people used a sort of a scraper or "gompf stick" that was kept in a

container by the privy, at least in the high Middle Ages.


        Modern toilet paper is a late 19th C. American invention.


        According to archeological finds from Yorvik the Scandinavian

settlers there used moss. They have found moss impregnated with

excrement in privies they have excavated (Ahhh, the not unmixed joys of

archeology! :).


        Given that the concept of a 5 day hike for pleasure is a very

modern concept, why not go with the modern stuff. Leaves are a really

crummy substitute.


Lothar \|/




From: haslock at rust.zso.dec.com (Nigel Haslock)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Period toilet papers?

Date: 8 Apr 1993 23:47:38 GMT

Organization: Digital Equipment Corporation - DECwest Engineering


There is evidence that the Irish used moss. (Frank Mitchell _The Shell Guide

to Reading the Irish Landscape_ ).


The is no reference that I have found that indicates one handed eating.

Instead, I have found numerous references to fastidious washing, napkins and

chafing dishes.


Did the folk reknowned for using the left hand for wiping and the right for

eating lack the ingredients for making or using soap?



        Aquaterra, AnTir




Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Period Toilet Papers?

Date: 9 Apr 1993 11:28:26 -0400


Unto the Fishyfolk of the Rialto, greeting from Thora Sharptooth!


The excavations at Viking Age York (England) include some sites that were

latrines in the ninth through eleventh centuries.  In addition to intestinal

parasites and wooden carved toilet seats, the digs revealed many scraps of

cloth--both linen and wool--that may have been used as toilet paper rather than

having been discarded bits of clothing and the like. However, the most likely

possibility according to the specialists is that the many discarded locks of

sheep's wool found in these areas were used as toilet paper.


Photos of some of these extant locks in Penelope Walton's TEXTILES, CORDAGE AND

FIBRE FROM 16-22 COPPERGATE suggest that they may have been used pretty much as

sheared from the sheep--i.e., not washed clean of their lanolin (and other

substances) first.


        Thora Sharptooth    Frosted Hills               East Kingdom

        Carolyn Priest-Dorman      Poughkeepsie, NY    priest at vassar.edu




From: hjfeld at acs.bu.edu (harold feld)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Period toilet papers?

Date: 9 Apr 93 17:44:56 GMT

Organization: Boston University, Boston, MA, USA


haslock at rust.zso.dec.com (Nigel Haslock) writes:

>There is evidence that the Irish used moss. (Frank Mitchell _The Shell Guide

>to Reading the Irish Landscape_ ).


>The is no reference that I have found that indicates one handed eating.

>Instead, I have found numerous references to fastidious washing, napkins and

>chafing dishes.


>Did the folk reknowned for using the left hand for wiping and the right for

>eating lack the ingredients for making or using soap?


>      Fiacha

>      Aquaterra, AnTir


The Talmud (in which all wisdom is contains) relate that our sages of

blessed memory used stones.  There is much discussion of permitted sizes

that one may carry on sabbath (since anything small enough to fall

outside the prohibition on carrying will be too small to be useful).

My appologies, but I cannot recall how the matter concluded.


Out of curiousity, how oes your culture dispose of its waste? In

our culture, one must not soil the camp or dwelling place, since

we are a holy people (Dueteronomy).  Alas, the only solution in cities

is to flush the stuff through the sewers and out of the city.

For this reason, it is forbidden to study Torah when walking

in a city street, as such a place is not suitable.


I have heard that the Franks actually allow their waste water to

mix with their drinking water.  Is this rumor true, or just one

more story from abroad?  Do they not know that such a thing is injurious

to ones health and attracts demons? (Talmud Pesachim).


Mar Yaakov HaMizrachi

(who will get tired of it soon, but is

reveling in it for now)



Organization: The American University - University Computing Center

Date: Thu, 8 Apr 1993 18:31:40 EDT

From: John A. Jordan Ii. <JJ9262A at auvm.american.edu>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: re: Period Toilet Paper


   In addition to hay-balls there was also the gomph-stick.  A carved

stick (one would hope that it was sanded too) kept in a container next to

the privy.  I think that this was a late-period development.  Check

Francis Gies "Life in a Medieval Castle".


                      Jester of Anglesea



From: TALLAN at flis.utoronto.CA (David Tallan)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: left hand (was re: toilet paper

Date: 8 Apr 1993 21:28:09 -0400


Dorothea seems to suggest that a left hand was an acceptable

substitute throught the time and space covered by the SCA.


I would like to point out that a fifteenth century English

book of courtesy suggests that this is not so when the servant

is carefully instructed to serve the lord *exclusively* with

the left hand. (Exact citation available upon request).


This caused a reat deal of mirth in our local group as we

wondered about such a servant serving an muslim gentle at an

SCA feast.


In fact, I can not remember of ever reading anything in Western

European primary sources that would indicate such a use for the

left hand.


Was this just an extrapolation from the Arabs, or is there some

fascinating primary source material that someone could point me



David Tallan (who, as Thomas Grozier, when he has finished drawing

up the apprenticeship contract, will always serve his master

with his left hand, for so he was taught)


David Tallan (tallan at flis.utoronto.ca)

snail: 42 Camberwell Rd. Toronto ON M6C 3E8



From: djheydt at uclink.berkeley.edu (Dorothy J Heydt)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: wiping buns

Date: 7 Apr 1994 17:27:19 GMT

Organization: University of California, Berkeley


I remember reading about a case in a monastery (sorry, can't

remember the details of time or place) in which a bishop's envoy

was searching for evidence of corruption, and he took up a

station in the latrine in the middle of the night, waiting for

people to come in and be corrupt so he could discover them.  But

before this could happen, the Abbot heard about it and came to

the latrine himself, and finding the envoy there, offered him a

wisp of straw.  As if to say, "Oh, is that what you were here

for?  Not spying, but merely answering Nature's call?  Of COURSE.

Proceed, by all means."


So it would seem that straw was used in some times and places in



Dorothea of Caer-Myrddin          Dorothy J. Heydt

Mists/Mists/West                   UC Berkeley

Argent, a cross forme'e sable           djheydt at uclink.berkeley.edu



From: tip at lead.aichem.arizona.edu (Tom Perigrin)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: wiping buns

Date: 7 Apr 1994 20:01:51 GMT

Organization: Department of Chemistry


jeffs at math.bu.EDU (Jeff Suzuki) wrote:

> >One might infer that people wiped their bums before 1600 in spite of a

> >lack of evidence to that effect.


> Actually, there is evidence to that effect; at least, the Romans had a

> thing (I'm not sure what it was called --- it was a towel on a stick,

> basically) that was used for that purpose.  I assume that we know that

> it was used for that purpose based on a, er, scatological analysis...


> Tio


Oh yes...  one of my prized possesions is just such a bum-wipe.   A few

years ago a close friend was working on a rescue archeological site near

Hadrians wall near Vindolanda.  The main prize was the foundations of a

building, it's midden heap, and a cess pit, dating from 73-130 CE.  Because

it was a rescue dig, a lot of small stuff was being overlooked.  There was

a tacit understanding that if the volunteers wanted to dig around in the

tailings after hours, they could keep whatever they found, as long as they

promised to turn anything significant over to the site archeologist.


Some of the things my friend found included a lot of pottery shards, a few

nails, the bowl of a broken spoon (which was turned over), and a number of

scraps of woven cloth.  There were a lot of these scraps in the cess pit,

and they tended to measure about 5" by 7". There was evidence they were

torn from larger pieces of cloth, and not cut.   The weave is a simple 4

harness twill weave, made from both linen or wool.   The colors or dyes did

not survive the long immersion in the less than lovely material in the pit.

From the evidence of roughly uniform size, reminiscent of two-sheets of

modern bum-wipe, distribution, etc...  these bits of cloth were surmised to

be bum-wipes.  Although these sheets may originally have been smeared with

feces, it was impossible to distinquish direct smearing from the effects of

long emersion in a fecal-soup.


I won't go through the story of how I came to possess my bum-wipe, but let

it suffice to say that the "spirits" were invoked.  It has since been

washed according to BM standards for cleaning and preservation of textiles,

and laid between two linen support sheets and encased in two sheets of acid

free poster board, and lives in a safe deposit box.    I find it amusing to

think that nearly two millenia ago some person smeared feces on this rag

and cast it in a cess pit, and now it is a treasured artifact worthy of

sitting next to my deeds and family jewelry.


Of course, some people have said that my family jewels are about as

valuable as a used bum-wipe, but they are not really being nice.


Tom, speaking mundanely for Thomas Ignatius Perigrinus



From: dickeney at access.digex.net (Dick Eney)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: wiping buns

Date: 7 Apr 1994 20:02:51 -0400

Organization: Express Access Online Communications, Greenbelt, MD USA


See Rabelais' _Gargantua & Pantagruel_ for a more than exhaustive catalog

of methods for carrying out this sort of personal hygiene. R's

conclusion was that the best means was using the neck of a live goose,

and indeed he conjectured that the happiness of the heroes in the Isles

of the Blest was in havilng a sufficient supply of these useful birds for

all their needs.  "There is nothing that is not a fit subject for



|-- Vuong Manh (dickeney at access.digex.com) Storvik, Atlantia |

|"Everything difficult becomes easier with chocolate!"       |



Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: tbarnes at silver.ucs.indiana.edu (thomas wrentmore barnes)

Subject: Re: Documentaion

Organization: Indiana University

Date: Thu, 7 Apr 1994 16:39:24 GMT


sbloch at ms.uky.edu (Stephen Bloch) writes:

>Ferret <dnb105 at psu.edu> wrote:


>Yes, the rich (and literate) were a minority group in the Middle Ages.

>Yes, basing the eating habits of the majority on their recipes is silly --



        Ain't necessarily so. There are also references to various foods

in literary works, and archeological evidence of foodstuffs. This isn't

recipies, but a good archeologist can tell if a bone had the meat hacked

off of it, and whether the bone was boiled, burned, and/or broken open

for the marrow. A pig's femur that has been cut off in the middle of the

bone, had the meat boiled off of it, and then thrown into a midden is

going to look very different from a pig's femur that was butchered raw,

cracked open for the marrow and then thrown into the fire.

        For the strong of stomach, there is a field of archeology that

studies coprolites - dried or preserved human feces. A great deal of

information about what people ate, and what sort of parasites they had

can be derived from these sources since seeds, parasite eggs and grain hulls

pass intact through the gut. (BTW, in case you're wondering what the

Vikings used as toilet paper. This field of study provides the answer -

moss. They used moss. This is based on the information gathered from the

Yorvik dig.)


        For the early period feast that I did, I could document all of

my ingredients and cooking techniques from Viking age archeological digs

and sagas. I couldn't find any recipies, but I did the best I could.

        I would argue that this is the best source that we have for what

the peasants ate.

>If somebody finds a source of recipes from a peasant or merchant family in

>14th-century England, every cookery researcher on this board will be in

>ecstasy, and there will shortly be a rash of documented "below-the-salt"

>dinners at SCA events.  But until that happens, we have to make do with

>what we have.  I claim that basing our medieval cooking on medieval nobles'

>recipes is less silly than basing it on modern recipes or on no recipes



        The Menagiere of Paris? Not a whole lot a recipies, but lots of

ingredients lists. As far as I know, the Menagiere was rich, but he

was a merchant. Unfortunately, I believe that he was 15th c.





From: jlpearso at vela.acs.oakland.edu (Alberic)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Wiping Buns

Date: 12 Apr 1994 10:15:49 GMT

Organization: Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan, U.S.A.


Seriously, apparently the crews of sailing ships (Spanish & Portugese

anyway) were accustomed to using the end of an old (eg. frayed) anchor cable

or some other piece of large, but useless line.  Keep in mind that these

would have probably been heavily coated in tar during their previous

incarnation as standing rigging.  This piece of line was then dragged

overboard, in the cold, wet, SALTY atlantic ocean.

Pick it up, use it, toss it back in....sounds like fun no?

The citation to back this up comes in the form of a letter from one of

the first priests to journey to the new world.  After he got here,

he wrote back to his Bishop complaining about the sanitary conditions

on the ships.  They all tended to just sort of hang over the side, where

ever was convienient, and take care of business.  (hang over on

the DOWN-WIND side!!!!)  The priest thought that this sort of...

exposure, was beneath his dignity.  In future, he wanted some sort of

private arraingement, and he wanted his own rope.

This was translated/quoted somewhere that escapes me at the moment,

but if anyone cares enough to e-mail me, I could dig it up...


In service to outrageous authenticity, but not to the Period Police,

(or to the BOD, for that matter)

I remain,




Date: Tue, 13 May 1997 14:02:41 -0500 (CDT)

From: "J. Patrick Hughes" <jphughes at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

To: sca-arts at listproc.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Use of Moss


The excavations in Viking period Dublin indicate that there was the

deliberate planting of certain mosses (sphagnum) in latrine pits to

control the "acid chemicals in urine."(_Early Medieval Ireland_ p 73)  I

thought that some of those into herbal things might be interested.


Charles O'Connor

jphughes at raven.cc.ukans.edu



Date: Sun, 17 Jan 1999 10:22:10 -0500

From: "Daniel Phelps" <phelpsd at gate.net>

Subject: Re: SC - Huh?


>LrdRas at aol.com wrote:

phelpsd at gate.net writes:

>> << a recreated 12th century Yorkish hole >>


>> Ok, I'll bite. Explanation, please?

>> Ras


>Typo for "Yorkish home", perhaps???




Regarding "The 12th Century Yorkish Hole" Suffice it it say that when you

combine a fit of pique, a soupcon of whimsy, and really good documentation

of an obscure period object you get results which can be quite outre'.  In

my case "The Excavations at York; The Viking Dig" by Richard Hall, 1984 The

Bodley Head, London, ISBN 0-370-30802-6 has on page 127 plate 153 a picture

in situ of  "Twelfth-century toilet seat fallen into a cess pit."  In

approximately 15 pages I document in exhaustive detail the hole in the plank

and my reconstruction of it.   It was in essence a study of documentation.

I asked them to judge not the plank but the hole as it was analogous to

judging a painting but not the frame.   What insued was a brief decision of

what was appropriate for Art/Sci and what category it should be entered in.

We decided domestics and the consensus was that it indeed was appropriate

for art/Sci.  Incidentally we came to the conclusion that, for example, the

instruments used in the regicide of Edward II were not. The Principal of

the Laureate in Trimaris said upon reading the documentation  that it was

worth the trip as I made her laugh twice.   Everyone involved asked for a

copy of the documentation.  The King declined to test it but at least one

person said it was more cumfortable that hers at home.  I have sent copies

of the documentation privately to several persons on this list.   If anyone

else is interested I will attach them to private side messages to avoid

clogging up the works.   If you are at Gulf War next I plan on entering it

in the grand melee competition.


[note - DanielŐs article is available in the Florilegium under the

file name: 12thC-Hole-art   -Stefan]


Daniel Raoul le Vascon du Navarre'.



Subject: ANST - Occupatoins..was Event Stewards....

Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 06:23:09 MST

From: jhartel <jhartel at net-link.net>

To: ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG


Bowen wrote:

> Pippa adds:

> How about Garderobe Attendant or something similar.


Many years ago I read a book that briefly discussed this "occupation".

I believe the name used was "gong farmer".  One of the farmers from the

area would come into the castle once a month (I believe) and clean the

toilets and take the remains back to the farmland to be use as



I do not remember the name of the book or even where I got if from.





Subject: RE: ANST - Event Steward vs Autocrat

Date: Mon, 24 May 1999 21:09:24 MST

From: "Decker, Terry D." <TerryD at Health.State.OK.US>

To: "'ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG'" <ansteorra at Ansteorra.ORG>


> Well, while toilet *paper* wasn't used, scraps of cloth, clumps of sheep

> wool and other things were.


> Lord Stefan li Rous


Understood, but the reference was to toilet paper.  If you want to look at

toilet paper's place in history, try:


Needham, Joesph and others, Science and Civilization in China, Vol. V, pt.

1, Paper and Printing; Cambridge, 1985.


This is the source for ancient Chinese technology.  The series was begun in

1954 and new volumes are added at irregular intervals.


If you can't find Needham, the work was referenced in re: toilet paper on

page 96 of Gies, Frances & Joseph, Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel;

HarperCollins, 1994.  Gies is a nice easy read on medieval technology and is

particularly useful for the chapter notes and bibliography.





Subject: Re: *WH*Loos, was An Excerpt From a Letter to Mundane Friends Concerning the BaronialWall

Date: Fri, 23 Jul 1999 17:24:58 -0400

From: "Xavier de Lyon" <XavierDeLyon at mindspring.com>

To: <keep at windmastershill.org>


Sorry Bryn, It's a French saying "garde l'eau" <sorry about the lack of

punctuation> literally watch out for the water.  It was mangled into "garde

loo" by non French speakers.  You are probably wondering why the English use

a French word.  It is thanks to medieval guides aiding French businessmen

while in England and Scotland would as part of their duties look for the

falling water for their guests and would scream out "garde l'eau" whenever

they saw a bedpan about to be chunked.   The english took up the phrase in

short order as a common curtesy. With

"Haud yer han," being the common retort to let them know you were below.


-Xavier de Lyon


excerpt from



During this period, the British had an expression-"gardyloo!"-that was

roughly the equivalent of the golfer's "fore!" Gardyloo was a corruption of

the French, garde lÍeau, "watch out for the water." In his "English Social

History," G.M. Trevelyan explains how it came about:


"Far overhead, the windows opened, 5,6, or 10 storeys in the air, and the

close stools discharged the collected filth of the past 24 hours into the

street. It was good manners for those above to cry, "Gardy-loo!" before

throwing. The returning roysterer cried back, "Haud yer han," and ran with

humped shoulders, lucky if his vast and expensive full-bottomed wig was not

put out of action by a cataract of filth."


>From: Bryn Smith <bryn at personalbest1.com>

>>This calls to mind an evil, EVIL thought..

>>(Living in England for a while gives one way too much useless trivia...)

>>It was customary, in London, before indoor plumbing, to toss the evenings

>>bedpan contents out of the window in the mornings..  The tossers were


>>to warn the folks travelling the street by shouting out the windows a

>>warning beforehand, "Look out below!"  well, the peopel on the street only

>>ever heard "Loo.." and if they hadn't ducked by thenn.. it was too late...

>>(Hense the British go to the Loo.. ask for a restroom and they'll show you

>>to a place with a couch.. A water closet and they'll show you their water

>>heaters.. Ah, the fun English..)

>I've always been under the impression that "loo" was short for lavatory (in

>much the same way that Bill is short for William, and Jack is short for

>John, englishisms all)... come on, somebody prove me wrong.

>Bryn Smith (Mrs.)



From: rio at austin.rr.com (StrangeGirl)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Cold Weather Camping

Date: Sun, 24 Sep 2000 06:24:35 GMT


ruhl at latakia.dyndns.org (Robert A. Uhl) shouted over the general

babble in a vain attempt to be heard:


>Speaking of chamberpots, does anyone know where one might be able to

>procure a periodish one?  I.e., I can settle for non-period porcelain

>and design, but if possible it'd be nice to hunt up a chamber pot

>designed to do the job that looks appropriate.  Granted, I'm the only

>one who'll see it (hopefully), but...


>I've poked around in a few of the smaller antique-thing shops but have

>thus far been unlucky.


Antique pots would be glaringly obvious, anyway. Most Victorian and

Regency-era pots look like really big white china mugs. Earlier ones

would most likely have been earthenware, rather than china.


You could try asking a potter to make you one. I would honestly think

that would be your best bet.





Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Cold Weather Camping--Chamberpot

Date: Mon, 25 Sep 2000 20:19:02 -0700


There is a reproduction of a period pottery urinal for sale at

http://www.historicenterprises.com/sl/pottery.html .   It is listed as being

English, 15th Century.




Ghelena661 wrote:

> I think Smoke and Fire or JS Townsend and Sons carry Williamsburg pottery.

> One of them sells a chamberpot.


> My mother has one currantly in use as a flowerpot.


> They are earthenware, heavy, and have 17c flower things on the side.  Out of

> period for us, but better than a Victorian overgrown soup bowl thing!


> I saw Walter Raleigh's chamberpot in the Tower of London.  I asked the

> Beefeaters if it was his, and they told me what was original and what was not.


> The chamberpot is right next to the bed, impossible to miss seeing it!


> Roxanne Greenstreet



From: Andrew Tye <atye at efn.org>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Cold Weather Camping

Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 09:23:58 -0700

Organization: Oregon Public Networking


On 24 Sep 2000, Robert A. Uhl wrote:

> Speaking of chamberpots, does anyone know where one might be able to

> procure a periodish one?  I.e., I can settle for non-period porcelain

> and design, but if possible it'd be nice to hunt up a chamber pot

> designed to do the job that looks appropriate.  Granted, I'm the only

> one who'll see it (hopefully), but...


Ivar here,


Take a look over at: <http://www.historicenterprises.com/index.html>; and

look under Pottery.  They sell a rather nice reproduction of a 15th C.

Yorkshire urinal.  Its a glazed pottery jar with a handle.  It looks

usable by XY types, less so by XX.  It has a 24 oz. capacity...


Ivar Hakonarson

Crosston, West

(who keeps a modern enameled steel thunder-mug under the aumbry at events)



From: georg <thegeorg at stny.rr.com>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Chimneys/guarderobe

Date: Mon, 10 May 2004 13:45:36 GMT


Cynthia Virtue wrote:

> georg wrote:

>> Let me look. I *know* it is listed in sources I don't trust. I think

>> it is listed in another I do. I assume you mean the hanging clothes in

>> the garderobe part.


> Right.  Thank you for being willing to look; I do appreciate it!


> cv


Most of my good books are in my father's hands, as he has been

researching plumbing far longer than I have. It's a family hobby

inherited from my grandfather, who started the family lecture on

privies. Both he and my father have toured with a slideshow

presentation. I have gathered the family books a few times to write

papers or give talks on the subject before, and I have been to a few

castles while in England, and I always examine the architecture when

there is time.


The garderobes I have seen haven't had any mechanism *obvious* for

hanging anything, including a screen for privacy from anyone else

walking by in the hall. There usually wasn't even room for you move your

legs into the alcove- so anyone approaching would know the seat was

taken. But the ones I have seen were obviously for the servants and

soldiers- not the Family in charge. There were two in the wall at

Warcliffe Castle- this was the outer wall - about 10 feet apart along

the same hall.


There is one that was installed into White Chapel by Henry VIII that

does have a twisting hallway for privacy. This was off the banquet hall.


Henry III did insist on having a separate room for a "private chamber"

or "wardrobe" every where he went, often requiring the addition to the

houses he visited as early as 1233, and some of these were true

garderobes (alcove in wall with seat and hole dropping into the moat)

while at least one was the cistern type, as was the one for Queen's

comfort in Whitehall. The Queen's privy had a chimney for venting as

well. He was also considered weird for his obsession with privacy.


According to "Temples of Convenience" (which seems to be a respectable

source) which phrases this better than I can, "the word garderobe is

sometimes confused with wardrobe. The wardrobe was the room adjoining

the privy in which you might wash and dress. Clothes were kept in it,

and sewing and dressmaking might also be done there. Garderobe was the

usual word for the privy in the grander domestic dwelling or castle."

But not every set of rooms included a garderobe. And I can see where

this confusion can come about with spelling variances common.


Reginald Reynolds in "Cleanliness and Godliness" does make this

assertion that clothing is kept in garderobes. But I don't trust his

research completely. His writing does prefer to work its way to the

joke, rather than to the facts. Unfortunately plumbing research does

tend to "plumb the depths of crappy material" for a laugh.


Many of the richer people had close-stools instead of coping with

garderobes (either chutes to the moat or over cisterns). These are

wooden boxes, leather lined, covered in fabric with stuffed seats and a

lid that locks. I have several pictures of one that is attributed to

both James I and Elizabeth I extant in Hampton Court. These would be

kept in the wardrobe or privy chamber, or carried to wherever they could

be needed- and travel with the owner as well.


Other euphemisms for this sort of chamber include hall of honor, the

temple, or holy chamber. It is thought that many so called priest holes

were just rooms for the close-stools.


I've been trying to figure out how to make one of my own with modern

sanitation in mind, for travel to War. Last year, they closed most of

the flush toilets, and I'm allergic to chemical toilets. I did not stay

at War under those conditions, and I will not be going this year or

until I can bring something I can use. (yes, I'm allergic to personal

chem toilets too-it's breathing around the chemicals that sets off the

asthma-like reaction). A close-stool that I can keep in my tent may be a

good option.



George Anne



Date: Mon, 10 May 2004 20:11:58 -0400

From: Cynthia Virtue <cvirtue at thibault.org>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Chimneys/guarderobe


georg wrote:

> The garderobes I have seen haven't had any mechanism *obvious* for

> hanging anything, including a screen for privacy from anyone else

> walking by in the hall. There usually wasn't even room for you move your

> legs into the alcove-


Right, that's what I recall from several castles in England.  You'd be

lucky if you could raise your elbows without hitting the walls, sometimes.





Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2007 10:58:37 -0400

From: Jadwiga Zajaczkowa / Jenne Heise <jenne at fiedlerfamily.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] OT Question

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at lists.ansteorra.org>


> Wright, Lawrence, 1906-

> Clean and decent : the history of the bath and loo and of sundry  

> habits, fashions & accessories of

> the toilet, principally in Great Britain, France & America / by  

> Lawrence Wright.

> Rev. ed. / with additional material by Dave Larder.

> London ; Boston : Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980.

> x, 211 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.

> ISBN: 0710006470 (pbk.)


This is an EXCELLENT summary, albeit from a 1950s perspective, of the

material, and a great place to start.  It would have been better, of

course, with a more extensive bibliography & footnotes, but of all the

general books on the topic, this is the best-researched; scholarly works

tend to be more narrow in their time focus.


-- Jadwiga Zajaczkowa, Knowledge Pika



From: Susan McMahill <sueorintx at hotmail.com>

Date: November 12, 2007 1:36:12 PM CST

To: "Kingdom of Ansteorra - SCA, Inc." <ansteorra at lists.ansteorra.org>

Subject: Re: [Ansteorra] Gong Farmer (was SCA Vocabulary)


From the Discovery Channel website:


The Gong Farmer The gong farmer was the Tudor equivalent of a modern  

mobile toilet attendant. It was his job to empty the privies (a row  

of holes in a wooden plank over a tank) of private households. Once  

the farmerŐs vat was full of ÔgongŐ (dung), he carted it outside  

the city walls. The job was so unsavoury that gong farmers were only  

allowed to work during the night and were forced to live together in  

designated areas. When tobacco arrived in this country most gong  

farmers became heavy smokers to mask the gut-wrenching pong of the gong!


Sounds like the perfect title for the job rather than nasty-crat,  

etc. ;)




> From: talana1 at hotmail.com

> To: ansteorra at lists.ansteorra.org

> Date: Mon, 12 Nov 2007 13:32:07 -0600

> Subject: [Ansteorra] Gong Farmer (was SCA Vocabulary)


> Claire wrote:

> > While you are there look up Gong Farmer. We once used that to replace

> > nasty-crat.  I'd love to know if it was accurate or useful. It was a very

> > fun reference in any case.


> As a matter of fact, the "Worst Jobs  

> of History - Tudor Era" program featured the role and toils of the  

> "gong farmer." Very English, very period for SCA. The gong farmer  

> cleared out middens, privies, and sewers.


> Talana  



Date: Mon, 3 Dec 2007 08:42:15 -0500

From: "Elise Fleming" <alysk at ix.netcom.com>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] Comfits and Sugar Temperatures

To: "sca-cooks at ansteorra.org" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>


Greetings!  My son-in-law re-did my web site and added several  

articles including comfits and sugar temperatures.  Also new are some  

photos of historic "garderobes", for those interested in the "end  

results".  You can find it all at http://home.netcom.com/~alysk/ .


Alys Katharine


<the end>

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