Bathroom Month: The first royal flush

At a time when personal hygiene and cleanliness was much below the standards of today, the privy was first installed in Richmond Palace in 1596 by Queen Elizabeth I's godson, Sir John Harington. But the Queen did not use it because it made so much noise that everyone would know when the Queen completed her business. The horror of it all!

Our modern toilets have three essential parts: a valve, a wash-down system, and a water reservoir. Harington invented the first two (although he did not patent it) and the Ajax Toilet was born. "A jakes", Our Virgin Queen's slang for privy, double entendre has a lot more to do with book Harington wrote than with the toilet. The Ajax was not "plumbed" as it would be today, it had to be filled manually and it flushed into a refuse tank under the seat. Chamber maids everywhere were clearly delighted by the prospect.

Perhaps it was the audacity of the book and it's double meanings to things that just are not important anymore, but Sir John Harington was the ridicule of his peers and never built another toilet. So much for progress. Chamber pots remained for a long time and it wasn't until 1880 when Thomas Crapper's syphon system replaced the floating system, in combination with the S-trap (and first patented toilet) of 1775's Alexander Cummings, that we see in modern toilets.

Happy Remembrance Day!