A Scottish food safety friend sent along this story from English Heritage which has some great pics.
1. Housesteads Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall: All together now…
The best preserved Roman loos in Britain are at Housesteads Roman Fort on Hadrian’s Wall. At its height, the fort was garrisoned by 800 men, who would use the loo block you can still see today. There weren’t any cubicles, so men sat side by side, free to gossip on the events of the day. They didn’t have loo roll either, so many used a sponge on a stick, washed and shared by many people.
Visit Housesteads Roman Fort
2. Old Sarum, Wiltshire: Luxury facilities, until you have to clean them…
These deep cesspits sat beneath the Norman castle at Old Sarum, probably underneath rooms reached from the main range, like private bathrooms. In the medieval period luxury castles were built with indoor toilets known as ‘garderobes’, and the waste dropped into a pit below. It was the job of the ‘Gongfarmer’ to remove it
Visit Old Sarum
3. Dover Castle, Kent: The royal wee
Henry II made sure that Dover Castle was well provided with garderobes. He had his own en-suite facilities off the principal bed-chamber. As with many castles of the era, chutes beneath the garderobes were built so that the waste fell into a pit which could be emptied from outside the building.
Visit Dover Castle
4. Goodrich Castle, Herefordshire: The toilet tower
At Goodrich Castle there’s a whole tower dedicated to doing your business.
Visit Goodrich Castle
5. Orford Castle, Suffolk: A Norman urinal
Garderobes are quite common in medieval castles, but urinals are a little more unusual. Henry II’s Orford Castlewas built as a show of royal power, and to guard the busy port of Orford.
Visit Orford Castle
6. Muchelney Abbey, Somerset: Thatched loo for monks
Many medieval abbey ruins across the country include the remains of the latrines, or ‘reredorter’ (meaning literally ‘at the back of the dormitory’), including Muchelney Abbey, Castle Acre Priory and Battle Abbey. At Muchelney the building survives with a thatched roof, making it the only one of its kind in Britain. The monks would enter the loo block via their dormitory and take their place in a cubicle – you can still see the fixings for the bench and partitions between each seat.
Visit Muchelney Abbey
7. Jewel Tower, London: The Privy Palace
A precious survival from the medieval Palace of Westminster, Jewel Tower was part of the ‘Privy Palace’, the residence of the medieval kings and their families from 11th to 16th century. It was well supplied with garderobes, with one on each of the three floors.
Visit Jewel Tower
8. Old Wardour Castle, Wiltshire: ‘A new discourse of a stale subject’
The forerunner to our modern flushing toilet was invented at Old Wardour Castle. The inventor Sir John Harington met with five others at the castle to discuss his idea for the first time in 1592.
Visit Old Wardour Castle
9. Audley End House, Essex: Feeling flush
Along with many other technological advancements, Audley End was one of the first country houses in England to have flushing toilets. The first of Joseph Bramah’s new hinged-valve water closets was purchased in 1775, and a further 4 were bought in 1785 at a cost equivalent to the wages of two servants for a whole year.
Visit Audley End
10. Brodsworth Hall, South Yorkshire: Thunderboxes
Inside the elegant Victorian country house of Brodsworth Hall almost everything has been left exactly as it was when it was still a family home. So as well as the grand furniture, there’s also everything from the commodes of the 1840s to a modern pink bathroom from the 1960s/70s.
Visit Brodsworth Hall