Chamber Pots

I am going to go out on a limb here...

Imagine if we never had the invention of the toilet.  Infact it is very possible that that invention could of passed us by.  It came and went as a passing fad, so many times in history.

As early as 2800 B.c. Toilets had been invented in many parts of the world.  Some of them also included underground drains which carried the waste away under the floor.  But most simply emptied out through an outside wall.  Somehow this technology was lost for several centuries, and re-emerged in the Roman era.  The Roman toilets often included running water.

However that invention was again forgotten about for a several more centuries, until John Harington invented the predecessor to the modern flush toilet in 1596 in England.  Unfortunately Queen Elizabeth did not like his flush toilet idea, and thus it never really took off.  That is until the late 1800's when the flush toilet became a widespread craze for wealthy families.

So what did people do when they didn't have toilets?  Well, most often they would use chamber pots.  In fact it was considered common to have a chamber pot in the dining room, and under the bed.  During the Victorian period, it was often expected for members at a dinner event, to all use their own chamber pots together after the meal, while still staying around the table to engage in discussion.  Imagine the smell?  Wow...  Not only that, but often kings and queens alike would address their subjects while using a chamber pot.  Most royalty had servants who would be in charge of carrying around the chamber pot and placing it in position when it was needed.

Back then, the act of going to the bathroom was not something to shy away from.  It was quite clearly a public affair.  While indeed, it was still disgraceful for a woman to show her body parts in public, for the most part.  This is why woman of that era wore long flowing dresses.  Mostly to envelop the chamber pot when they needed to squat...

These days, we have gotten so used to privacy in restrooms, that the prospect of urinating in public, a common event in the Victorian age, is now almost completely taboo.  Many towns and cities have by-laws against outdoor urination.

But why?  I can understand why the toilet took off.  It was considered a luxury, and people wanted what the wealthy had.  But why have a separate enclosed room for it?

I suppose now that the ladies no longer wear long flowing dresses, they can no longer remain 'decent' in public while going to the bathroom.  But in our private homes, why must restrooms have doors?  Just yesterday I was listening to the local fire channel, and heard a call for a child which locked himself in a bathroom and was having some sort of medical problem.  The firemen who responded ended up finding out it was just the fact that he was scared that he was locked in a room, which freaked him out.  There was no medical problem.  How many times has this happened?

Our society has grown to the point where anything remotely related to urination or defecation is considered dirty, and naughty...  And is not to be discussed publicly.  We hide it away as if it is a sin to preform those acts.  Why must we hide from body functions which we all have in common?

A Toilet in use in a living room

There is still evidence of the old times, in houses today.  I have seen many a farm house which had a toilet installed in the corner in a main living room.  A tradition, I think, which should be continued.  In this case, the toilet becomes the social chamber pot of the past, and allows a user to maintain in social contact with everyone, while they take care of their bodily functions.  If I ever designed a house, I may consider just such an installation.

Some interesting food for thought.