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Hygiene In The Elizabethan Era

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Annie Joseph

on 15 April 2014

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Transcript of Hygiene In The Elizabethan Era

Hygiene In The Elizabethan Era
A bathroom or toilet back in the day was referred to as a garderobe or privy. In castles and monasteries/convents they had large arrangements of these for the people. Chamber pots were used in bedrooms in a castle that didn’t have a garderobe. Some of the larger castles actually had a latrine tower, which was filled with them. Some city walls also had privies so the guards could use them while on duty.

For peasants, a toilet was a bucket in the corner of the room that was tossed into the river, or a bucket behind the house, or a tree in the forest. No privies for these folks. Unfortunately water for cooking and bathing came from the same river .Chamber pots were used in bedrooms in a castle that didn’t have a garderobe. Some of the larger castles actually had a latrine tower, which was filled with them. Some city walls also had privies so the guards could use them while on duty. Some London homes had toilets, not like the standard toilets that we have today, but they did include piping, however these pipes frequently backed up causing fumes to carry throughout the house. Some people had “earth closets” that would periodically drop dirt into the pipes to flush out the waste. The poor had privies in the backyard that were emptied into a cesspool. “Night soil men” would come by and empty the muck. All the pipes from homes and the wagons full of muck were dumped into the Thames River. This led to plenty of epidemics until emptying waste at certain times and away from the water supply was developed.

Although a flushable toilet was invented in the 1500’s there was no way to use it since they didn’t have running water. However they were able to develop systems of valves to keep the smells from coming up from the toilets, and periodic flushing was done.

Using perfumes was widely popular even in the middle ages. Oils from flowers, mixed with herbs and spices created all sorts of pleasant smells that both males and females loved smelling.

When they did manage to bathe, nobles and royals or even rich merchants bathed with scented soaps, so that their skin would take on the fragrance as it may not be a few days or longer until they could bathe again.
Teeth Brushing In Elizabethan Times
Teeth Brushing
The first toothbrush was not patented until 1857, so how did they get their teeth clean? Obviously from accounts in history of even the wealthiest and most royal of people had brown teeth, that most people didn’t get too clean…

Those that tried used the following methods:

* Rubbing teeth with the ashes of burnt rosemary.
* Powdered sage rub used to whiten teeth.
* Vinegar, wine and alum mouthwash.
* After dinner comfits were eaten to freshen breath.

How The Upper class Would Bath
As in a lot of things medieval bathing was by some seen as letting the devil into you. It was also widely believed that being naked and letting the water touch you would make you severely ill. Medieval kings and lords and their household bathed more than most. Some had special rooms set aside for bathing and others bathed in huge tubs brought into their rooms. The tubs took forever to fill as the water had to be gather, heated and then carried in buckets to their rooms, where it was poured in and mixed sometimes with perfumes, scented oils and flower petals. Their ladies were just as lucky.

Because gathering water was so difficult several people would enjoy the bath before the water was thrown out. Especially within the poor. Peasants submerged themselves in rarely for a bath and were more likely to wash quickly with plain water and a rag and if they were lucky some soap.
Elizabeth I, is said to have had a bath once a month. She also restored the bath houses in Bath, England.

Elizabethan Streets. YUCK!



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