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Chamber pot, Europe, 1801-1900

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If British houses in the 1800s had toilets they were usually outside in the backyard or at the end of the garden. Chamber pots, which were usually kept under people’s beds, were often more convenient, especially on cold nights. This earthenware pot is inscribed with a poem called ‘Marriage’: This Pot is A Present Sent Some mirth to make is only meant We hope the same you’ll not refuse, But keep it safe and of it Use When you want to Piss Remember them who sent you this present and the additional lines What do I see, Keep me clean and use me well and what I see I shall not tell.

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Glossary: hygiene

The science of health and how to maintain it. A condition or practice which promotes good health. The definition varies widely and differs across cultures.

Glossary: chamber pot

Bowl-shaped container with a handle, used as a urinal at night. Chamber pots remained in common use until the 1900s when inside water closets replaced them. They are still used in countries where indoor plumbing is rare.

Glossary: earthenware

Pottery made of clay which is fired at a relatively low temperature. Earthenware is often semi-porous, meaning some liquid or air can pass through it. This can be altered by treating the pottery with a glaze.