Howdy to all and happy new year, too. We celebrated the holidays with a pretty major present: three newly remodeled bathrooms. Starting the Monday after Thanksgiving indeed added to holiday stress and frantic-ness, but at least’s it’s all over now. Sheesh.
With only one working commode downstairs for almost a month, we sure felt like pioneers, especially if nature called in the middle of a cold winter’s night.
Well, not exactly LOL. We didn’t have to brave the elements. But I sure got curious and decided to flush out some facts about the modern “necessary.” The idea of a room inside the home dedicated solely to personal needs only started in the late 1800’s. In fact my next hero Jed Jones seriously hopes to afford the luxury of a “bathing room” for his reluctant new wife (circa 1880) in my upcoming release, Midnight Bride.
An Englishman bearing the name (LOL) of Thomas Crapper is often given credit for the flushing toilet via his valve-and siphon design patented in 1891. But the idea didn’t just pop into his head while using an outdoor privy one day or anything like that. His device was a refinement of a design that puzzled yet tantalized Victorian England–how to build a flushing ”water closet” without sewer gases entering the home.
Such a mechanism had actually existed during Elizabethan times. The queen’s godson, Sir John Harrington, designed one for her use about 1596. But the idea never caught on, mostly because municipal sewer lines hadn’t yet been developed. The Victorians, who made the connection between unsanitary conditions and disease, understood the need for cleaner cities–a concept that had escaped the first Queen Elizabeth and her ilk–and began to construct sewer systems.
However, without water to remove wastes, portable commodes and chamber pots, and the classic outhouse, remained the standards in many areas for many more years.
As for bathing itself, the ancient Romans mastered that art with their aqueducts and bathhouses. But the culture’s excesses had early Christians deem the practice hedonistic, an attitude that prevailed through the Middle Ages. The body, a vessel of sin, deserved to be conquered by the spirit, not a bath. Personal hygiene became considered a sinful indulgence. In the New World, the attitude persisted in seriously religious colonies, and along the frontier, there was simply too much else to do. Building sewers and designing indoor plumbing were the last thing on anybody’s mind when there were fields to plant and game to hunt and cabins to build.
Between 1875 and 1925, indoor plumbing began to be widely available and universally desired. Privacy attitudes changed, too. From a time when many families shared one bathroom in an apartment house, many of today’s homes have bathroom facilities in each bedroom.
The modern bathroom developed in response to essential human needs as well as improved norms of culture and technology.
Thankfully. I definitely an indoor plumbing girl. How about you? Anybody else lived through a remodel or have one planned for the near future?
Thanks to Bryan Nowak Photography for the generous use of his gorgeous photos. www.gadoodles.com