Chamber Pots and Slop Buckets

Christeah Dupont, Point Ellice House Museum & Gardens

In the earliest days at Point Ellice House there were no flushing toilets or showers. Before the 1880s, a set of jugs, basins, bowls, and pots were an essential part of personal hygiene. These toilet sets, of which there are several at Point Ellice House, included a chamber pot, a washbasin, a water jug, a slop bucket, as well as a soap dish, sponge bowl and a toothbrush holder. Each piece had its own role to play in the daily routine; people did not often fully submerge themselves in water when they bathed, so a cloth or a sponge rinsed in a washbasin served as a shower. Slop buckets acted as bathroom sinks; this is where water was spat and washbasins emptied. This ‘grey’ water was then taken outside and disposed of – sometimes in a soak pit (ask to see the pit on your next visit). Chamber pots were used as toilets and emptied in cesspools or outhouses. The toilet set in Kathleen’s room at Point Ellice House features a decorative and colourful ribbon motif (PEH 975.1.197a-l).

You can see many chamber pots, slop buckets, and other toilet items from the collection in our upcoming exhibit – Springs and Scavengers: Waste and Water in Victoria – where we explore a number of stories about water access and waste removal in early Victoria.

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