I was just watching a programme about Hampton Court in which they said that Henry VIII built a servants' toilet there for 24 occupants, and called it 'the house of easement.'
It reminded me of the room in Pompeii, where there are stone benches with holes all the way round and where the elders of the place went in a morning both for 'easement' and also to discuss the affairs of the day.
When I was a child my Aunt Kate lived way out in the Dukeries in Nottinghamshire. They had no water laid on to their house and the lavatory was right at the top of the garden - an awful long way to walk in the dark and in Winter. It was an earth closet which my Uncle Frank used to keep well under control by throwing earth, cinders etc. at the back of the closet at least once a week in Winter and almost every day in Summer. The seats, which my Aunt used to scrub until they were white, were made of wood and there were three holes in a row, so that the family could all visit together.
I have written before about the lavatory at our house - where my father had to empty the bucket once a week at the bottom of the garden (usually under the damson tree and we had a fantastic crop of damsons every year).
Now of course those days are past in this country at least and we all have 'water closets', up to date sanitation, a plethora of disinfectants etc. In fact we have really gone over the top in our eagerness to eliminate germs in some ways I think.
But when I press the little button on top of our toilet cistern I sometimes think of those days, for like the washing and ironing, the cooking in a fire oven, the cleaning by beating carpets outside on a line and all the other jobs that took up a woman's whole life and usually made her old and arthritic long before her time, cleaning out toilets every weekend have become a thing of the past - and a good thing too.
Thank goodness I wasn't one of Henry;s servants - I have no desire to share a 'house of easement' with twenty three others. Locks on doors is the order of the day for me at any rate, don't know about you.