How old is the toilet seat?

Despite the flushing toilet being a Tudor invention, pioneered by Sir John Harington (godson of Queen Elizabeth I), the history of toilet seats goes back a long way.

How old is the toilet seat? © Getty Images

Communal latrines were a regular feature in Roman towns, with the bottom holes cut into the benches.

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These forica toilets are perhaps 2,000 years old, but they’re positively modern compared to the limestone seats carved for posh Egyptians and Harappans (from modern Pakistan), who lived around 4,500 years ago.

These seats were placed over simple drainage gullies, which could be manually flushed with water, though poorer people instead used wicker stools with a hole cut in the centre, or squatted over a ceramic pot.

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As for our hinged toilet seat, that was a Victorian invention more closely associated with Thomas Crapper’s company. You’ll perhaps be unsurprised to learn Victorian women also complained their husbands piddled all over the seat!

This article was first published in the September 2015 issue of History Revealed and answered by one of our Q&A experts, Greg Jenner.