DiscoverHistory Storytime - For KidsThe History of the Toilet
The History of the Toilet

The History of the Toilet

Update: 2021-04-19


Sophie (age 7) and Ellie (age 5) tell the history of the toilet.----more----

They start with toilets in the stone age including toilets of hunter gatherers and then those of the early settlements like that of Skara Brae. When cities are first built by the Mesopotamians and later the Greeks toilets become more sophisticated. They have pipes and drains.

However, it is the Romans who take toilets to a whole new level. We hear how they built public toilets which were beautiful. Even among all the beauty though, wiping your bum was still a pretty disgusting process. The Romans did not even go to the toilet when they had banquets. Instead slaves would bring them pots to wee in at the table!

The Medieval period saw more privacy with curtains put around toilets. But the poo needed to go somewhere. So builders of castles built toilet shutes down the side of castle walls which helped fill the moat with poo. That did not bother the French though who stormed one castle by climbing soldiers up the toilet shute into the castle and capturing it from the English.

People living in medieval towns also had to get rid of their poo. They just used to through it out of the window onto the street. People would shout in French “guardez l’eau” which meant “watch out for the water”. But English people would pronounce it “Gardy Loo” and eventually just “loo” which is how English people started called toilets “the loo”. Kings eventually banned this because it made the cities smell and built some drains.

Meanwhile in 1596, Sir John Harington invented the first flushing toilet. He even gave one to Queen Elizabeth I as a present. Today when Americans talk about going to the “John” then are remembering Sir John Harington.

The Victorians made more flushing toilets and started to build sewers in London after there was a heatwave which caused a massive stink.

Then a man called Thomas Crapper makes lots of toilets, including for the King. He even puts his name on his toilets.

Eventually in the 20th century toilet paper was invented.

Now we have toilet paper to wipe out bum, flushing toilets to take the poo out of the house, and sewers to take the poo out of the street.


We use the terms “poo” and “wee”. We don’t use any other terminology.


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The History of the Toilet

The History of the Toilet

Sophie (7) & Ellie (4) tell history for kids