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Top Ten Collections – Chamber Pot…

07 September 2019

Chamber Pot

A cream and blue ceramic/porcelain chamber pot, with a blue pattern design floral and lions pattern both rampart and passant.

INV354: This is one of our large collection of the Invincible artefacts

and can be viewed at our Command of the Oceans galleries.

Sanitary arrangements of 18th Century warship appear revolting to the modern mind.  Even though disposal of waste was quite easy at sea for it could simply be discharged over the side, the hygienic aspect contributed much to the high rate of deaths from disease.

Social standing had a lot to do with the often delicate division between commissioned officers both within the wardrooms and gun-rooms, and an even sharper social distinction marked those who used the heads offering some privacy from those with access to the wardroom quarter gallery.  Toilet accommodation for the commissioned officer was in the quarter galleries adjoining the cabins in the stern. Presumably, they used chambers pots which were later emptied over the side of the ship.

Like all ships of the line, for the crew the main toilet accommodation was provided in two semi-circular ‘roundhouses’ on the foremost bulkhead of the upper deck was in the heads of the ship behind the figurehead. “Seats of easement” overhung the water so that human waste could fall straight down. However they never seem to be enough of these for a crew of 700 men.  Seamen could urinate into “piss dales”, small receptacles like basins on the side of the ship, with a pipe leading out through the side.  Possibly buckets were provided above the decks for immediate use.  Evidently, this was not sufficient for many seamen, and Admiralty Regulations of 1747 demanded that sentries be placed by the gratings to prevent men from ‘easing themselves’ into the hold.

A similar chamber pot was found in an excavation of an officer’s quarter in Southsea. It was made in Germany near Cologne.

There was no true porcelain being made in the UK until the 1750’s despite desperate attempts to make the white gold.  Worcester were the pioneers of porcelain production, following on from the lead of German Company Meissen.  It took 40 years for the English to catch up with the Germans.

Thanks to Ann Howe for this blog!
Volunteer in the CHDT Researchers Group providing in-depth knowledge of the Dockyard, Medway area, local and social history general, and more importantly preserving our heritage for the benefit of future generation.

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