Inconveniences of yesteryear
12th January 2011
... Comments


I have had a busy couple of days and today, I have been putting together some information for my book about living conditions in the 19th Century. It is amazing how far we have come in a few years.

This morning, I was in the garden feeding the birds, when I saw the bathroom blind go down. I had wanted to get into the bathroom before going into town, but the blind going down signalled that the bathroom was going to be out of bounds for at least 30 minutes as our twenty-year-old son had beat me to it! I did some more paperwork and then stood outside the door making a nuisance of myself till a towel-clad youngster appeared, in no particular hurry, "I'll be out in a minute!" door closes and teeth brushing noises, then door opens, big grin and I get in at last!

We only have one bathroom, we have another wc downstairs, but only one bathroom. More and more people are having en-suite bathrooms these days, some houses are being built with all en-suites and I expect one day, it will be only the poor who have the one bathroom for a family to share.

When I was a child, we had a bathroom indoors because my uncle and my Dad had put the bath in, but our only toilet was down the yard, it was bucket under a wooden seat. My grandparents had an outside toilet too, but theirs was very scary to me as it was just a big hole in the ground, a vault that my grandfather had to dig out every so often.

We were lucky, at least we had our own toilets. The reason I'm telling you this is that I have been looking through a newspaper of 1850. Most 1850 newspapers are very boring, but I find the adverts and specially the property auction adverts, to be fascinating.

These poor people in 1850 had to share an outside privy with other houses! The seven houses advertised for sale shared a privy on the property of No 2, what it doesn't tell you is how many people that included. In 1851 there were people of the names mentioned as tenants, all living in the same lane, (Paradise Lane), those people appear to have had to share the same privy, (it could have been more than one seat), how many people were living there in 1851? 47! Yes forty-seven. Going back into the dim and distant past, when the rich lived in Castles and Manor-Houses and the poor lived in little more than huts, most people wouldn't have even had a toilet, ditches, streams, bushes and hedgerows would have served for the poor and those in the big houses usually had a little room over the moat! Next time you are at Norwich Castle, stand on the Market-Place side and look up at the side wall, there you will see where the toilets emptied out! 

Yet I am moaning about not being able to get into the bathroom when I want?

How times change!



About the Author

Glynn Burrows B

Member since: 24th January 2011

I'm passionate about Norfolk & love to share that passion with others. My interest in history gave me the idea to start up Norfolk-Tours, see England how YOU want to see England.

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