Sunday, 27 March 2011

Toilets and Timid Women.

Now as you might have gathered, I’m a fan of the Regency. However…and it’s a big but…I wouldn’t want to live there. The reason (or one of them…) the lack of flushing plumbing! I couldn’t be doing with chamber pots, closed stools and ceespits…give me u-bends and Armitage-Shanks every time.
I suspect I’m not alone in this, and neither, so it seems, am I alone in the confusion over what to call a toilet. Apparently there is a world wide reticence to say the word ‘toilet’ or ‘lavatory’ in public.

I love this story of an English lady in the 1930’s, who was accosted at a party by a drunken man, wanting to know where the toilet was. Her icy reply was;
‘On the left of the entrance hall you will find a door marked ‘Gentlemen’. Disregard the warning, go right in and you’ll find what you want.’
In England the reluctance to say the word toilet, led to a litany of euphemisms including;
WC (water closed), bog, jakes, loo, powder room, heads and convenience.
In the early 20th century the more polite amongst us might have asked about
“the geography of the house”
“To use the cloak room”
And this shyness is nothing new. There is a biblical reference to “the place where one cover’s one’s feet” and in 1653 Richard Codrington wrote in ‘The Mirror of History’ of “the stool of easement”. The Danes, almost poetically ask for “The place where the King goes alone,” and in a similar vien the French for “Where the king goes on foot.”
A Stone Toilet.
In Wales it was the ‘ty back’ or ‘little house’, in reference to an outside privy. Indeed, one American entrepreneur, Lem Putt, who became known as ‘the champion privy builder of Sangamon County’ had theis sage advice about where to site an outside toilet.
“Put her in a straight line with the house, past the wood pile. I’ll tell you why. Take a timid woman; if she sees any men folk around, she’s too bashful to go direct out so she’ll go to the woodpile, pick up wood and go back to the house. On a good day you’ll have the wood box filled by noon.”

Yep, indoor six inch diameter, flushing plumbing every time please!


  1. You just have to love the thoughts at the time. When my H and I were traveling through British Columbia Canada in 2001, and our first time being out of the United States as well.
    We entered the Yukon, and stopped at a roadside gas station to gas up , and use the facilites. As my H was putting gas in the tank, my adult daughter and I went to the little building to ask where the bathroom was. The older gentleman inside was in his 70's, and asked if he could help us, and when we asked where the B.R. was, he replied saying;
    "The thunderbucket is in rear, and please be sure to flush the beast. The thunderbucket gets quite cranky and stinky if you don't do the flushin'."
    It was all I could do to exit the building without busting out laughing my fool head off.
    The man was a simple pleasure to talk to, and has left a charming memory of using the "thunderbucket" in the wilds of the Yukon.

    Thank you for sharing your post!


  2. These types of the problems generally come such that these there comes a toilet of flushing and toilets in many places. As you have shown the stone toilets and also other toilets. That all belongs to the regency.


Due to the amount of SPAM I have been forced to moderate comments. If you are a spammer - please go away! You comment will not be posted and you are wasting your own time.