Life without flushing toilets simply doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?
Flushed with Success. Toilets have been discovered from nearly 5,000 years ago, but the world’s oldest flushing loos are the ones at the Minoan palace of Knossos on Crete, which are 4,000 years old. Ancient Minoan royalty sat on a wooden seat over a clay bowl, which was flushed with water flowing through pipes and into stone sewers.
3,600 years later, the UK’s first flushing toilet was invented by John Harrington, Queen Elizabeth’s godson. In 1597 he installed one in his godmother’s palace at Richmond. The Queen was pleased with it but banished Harrington from court for writing a rude essay about it.
Harrington’s toilet wasn’t commonly used until the late 1700s, when Alexander Cumming invented the ‘S’ bend. Cumming took out the first patent on a modern toilet, which was improved upon by Joseph Bramah in 1778.
The House of Lords in London still has an original Bramah loo, and it’s still being used.
On a Roll. Toilet paper has probably been used since the invention of paper. The earliest record of it is in 14th-century China.
The first paper to be made and sold exclusively for using in the loo was made by Joseph Gayetty and went on sale in the USA in 1857 as ‘Gayetty’s Medicated Paper’.
Before toilet paper people used all sorts of things, including moss, leaves, corncobs and shells.
Very rich people have used materials like wool and even lace. In 1391, the first toilet paper was used by a Chinese emperor, but how big were the sheets? The same size as today’s paper Big – equivalent to A4 paper Massive – 60 x 90 cm
What caused the smell during the ‘Great Stink’ in London in 1858? Untreated sewage in the street or pollution from factories entreated sewage in the Thames rat infestation
Before the invention of toilet paper:
Hawaiians used coconut shells
Eskimos used snow
Romans used their hands
Early Americans used corncobs
In the middle ages, before the invention of toilets in the home, where did the waste from chamber pots go? On average, how much time do people spend on the loo over a lifetime? When is World Toilet Day? Where does the word ‘toilet’ come from? What is toilet humor?
Veni vidi wee-wee: Ancient Roman public toilets really were public – people used a jell multi-seated toilet without dividing walls or doors. And what’s more, these loos were unisex, and could seat up to 100 men and women.