5 Apr 2011

On Privies and other stuff

Ever wondered where the name ‘loo’ came from for the toilet? Wonder no more.

"Ordinary people would use a chamber pot, and when they wanted to empty it, they would open a window and shout out 'gardez l'eau' - watch out for the water. Gardez l'eau became loo."

So says the BBC. Some other revealing information…

Some of the earliest built toilets in Britain are in the Tower of London, says Lucy Worsely, curator of Historic Royal Palaces. These are in the White Tower, built soon after the Norman conquest.

"The toilets, called garderobe, are all on the side away from the city so the subjugated Londoners wouldn't see the conquering Norman poo dribbling down the side of the walls.

"The name garderobe - which translates as guarding one's robes - is thought to come from hanging your clothes in the toilet shaft, as the ammonia from the urine would kill the fleas."

14th Century street names

  • Give clue as to what conditions were once like
  • Some still exist, like Gutter Lane, Staining Lane and Seething Lane
  • Others renamed to hide mucky past - Sherborne Lane in EC4 was Shiteburn Lane

A fascinating look at British culture, ent Cap’n? (^_^)