Who Invented the Flush Toilet?
Toilets are not new, they have been around since the Stone Age, and flushing toilets are old enough that history doesn't record their invention. But then things fell apart after the Roman Empire fell apart. Flushing toilets on a modern design were finally re-invented in England a little before 1600, wrapped up in some royal court intrigue.
Sir John Harington was born in 1561 in Kelston, Somerset, in southeastern England. His mother was a gentlewoman of the Privy Chamber of Queen Elizabeth I.
The Privy Chamber was the most influential operating department within the English royal household. Control of the Privy Chamber meant control of the ruler. What had simply been the Chamber of the King had been divided under King Henry VIII (ruled 1509-1547) into the Privy Chamber, the Presence Chamber, and the Great Hall, working out from the innermost private space. The Privy Chamber included the ruler's bedroom, library, study and toilet.
As King Henry VIII grew older and fatter, the position of Groom of the Stool became ever more influential. Meanwhile, the work involved remained rather unpleasant. The Groom of the Stool, more formally titled the Groom of the King's Close Stool, was in charge of the royal excretion and was tasked with removing the excrement and cleaning the King's anal area after defecation.
See pictures of New Testament era toilets in Ephesus, Hierapolis, and Corinth, and read about how attitudes about privacy have changed through the centuries in Privies, Privacy and Power. Lyndon Johnson had some toilet habits that go back to the Romans and beyond that to Mesopotamian potentates of the second millennium BC!
Only 25 days until World Toilet Day!
Welcome to the Toilets of the World, where you can view toilets from all around the world. Are you wondering how to use a bidet, or even what a bidet is? Curious about what the toilets are like in a specific country such as France, Turkey, China, Greece, Japan, or many others? Would you like to see some of the worst toilets in the world? Or maybe you're interested in historical toilets, from ancient Greece and Rome, or even the Stone Age? Do you wonder who invented the flush toilet? (It wasn't Thomas Crapper) You've come to the right place! The Toilets of the World are ready for your visit. Learn about toilets, bidets, urinals, sinks, tubs, and other plumbing from all around the world.
Tour the Toilets!
Belgium Bulgaria China France Greek Islands Japan Turkey Trinidad Russia and many others
The Stone Age Ancient Greece Ancient Rome Bible era King Arthur's England Invention of the flush toilet To the toilets of the future
The Ottoman Sultan Woodrow Wilson Leon Trotsky Winston Churchill Adolf Hitler Dwight Eisenhower Robert Kennedy and others
William Shakespeare Edgar Allan Poe Vincent Van Gogh Jim Morrison Hunter S Thompson Tom Wolfe Lady Gaga and others
Did Thomas Crapper invent the flush toilet? Should I squat or sit? Should I wipe or wash? Where do I put used paper, in the bowl or in the bin? When did public toilets become segregated by sex? What is a bidet? What is a toilet snorkel? Should I incinerate my sewage in the basement?
Keep This Book In Your Bathroom
Rose George's The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters is a fascinating description of sanitation conditions around the world. To quote from the introduction:
[....] 2.6 billion people don't have sanitation.
I don't mean that they have no toilet in their house
and must use a public one with queues and fees.
Or that they have an outhouse, or a rickety shack that
empties into a filthy drain or pigsty.
All that counts as sanitation, though not a safe variety.
The people who have those are the fortunate ones.
Four in ten people have no access to any latrine,
toilet, bucket, or box.
Instead they defecate by train tracks and in forests.
They do it in plastic bags and fling them through the
air in narrow slum alleyways.
If they are women, they get up at 4 A.M. to be able to
do their business under cover of darkness for reasons
of modesty, risking rape and snakebites.
Four in ten people live in situations where they are
surrounded by human excrement because it is in the bushes
outside the village by in their city yards, left
by children outside the backdoor.
It is tramped back in on their feet, carried on fingers
onto clothes, food, and drinking water.|
[....] Poor sanitation, bad hygiene, and unsafe water — usually unsafe because it has fecal particles in it — cause one in ten of the world's illnesses. [....] Diarrhea — nearly 90 percent of which is caused by fecally contaminated food or water — kills a child every fifteen seconds. The number of children who have died from diarrhea in the last decade [1998-2008] exceeds the total number of people killed by armed conflict since the Second World War.
Test your lavatorial knowledge with our new toilet quizzes!Quiz #1: International Toilets Quiz #2: Flying Toilets
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