What was a "gong scourer?"
#118442. Asked by star_gazer. (Oct 29 10 1:19 PM)
Tudor and Stuart times [1485 – 1714]|
The loos in these times were not to be sniffed at. Henry VIII’s courtiers at Hampton Court shared a ‘great house of easement’ with 28 seats on two different levels. It emptied into brick-lined drains, which carried the waste into the River Thames.
A team of ‘gong scourers’ cleaned these royal loos. Gong scourers were boys small enough to crawl along the drains. It was probably not a very popular job!
While the servants shared the house of easement, Tudor kings did their royal business on a luxurious ‘close stool’. This was a large bucket and water tank, with a padded seat. Henry VIII’s close stool had a padded seat, trimmed with silk ribbons and studded with gold nails.
Tudor people would happily ‘pluck a rose’ (have a wee) anywhere – in chimneys, corners of rooms or in the street. In Edinburgh, you could hire a portable toilet, which was a bucket with a tent-like cloak. Poor people would wipe themselves with leaves, moss or stones. Better off people used bits of old clothes. They called the loo 'the jakes'.
In 1596, Sir John Harrington invented the first water closet with a proper flush. He built one in his house. His godmother, Queen Elizabeth I, used it, and she was so impressed that she had 'a john' built at Richmond Palace. Unfortunately, it was knocked down after John Harrington died and it was almost 200 years until the WC was re-invented.
Gong Farmer /
Gong Scourer Emptied cesspits, ashpits and outside toilets - "middins" - usually required to work from 9pm to 5am. See also Night Soilman
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