Our ancestors were an often strange bunch, who did some rather bemusing things at times. From women not being allowed to show their ankles in public, to an obsession with post-mortem photography, they were bizarre times in which to exist. But don’t think this unusual behaviour excluded the lavatory either, as there were some very interesting things that happened in the bathrooms of old, as we’re about to tell you….
A novel way to dispose of old razor blades
Believed to have originated in the 1920s, many houses featured medicine cabinets in the bathroom which featured a little slot in them, leading directly into the wall behind. Why, you ask? Well this slot was for the freshly shaven gentlemen to dispose of his used razor blades. Each dull blade was popped into the slot and over time a collection of razors would form within the wall itself.
This may seem gross now, but back then it was probably considered a very safe and hygienic way to dispose of the blades. Walls filled with used razors are still being discovered in older houses to this day! To be honest, we couldn’t think of anything more sinister or unsettling than peeling back an old medicine cabinet to find a hole in the wall crammed with discarded razor blades.
Arsenic Bathroom Wallpaper Anyone?
As hard as it is to believe now, back in Victorian times it was common to find bathroom wallpaper that had arsenic in it. Introduced in 1856, the highly toxic substance was selected due to its affordability and its usefulness in making wallpaper with a green hue. While these patterned designs looked fetching, it was soon discovered that arsenic had rather poisonous properties, and could prove lethal to humans who came into contact with it. In the 1870s, many firms actually had to advertise their wallpaper selection as arsenic-free due to the concern caused. It’s our guess that the walls weren’t the only thing that was green!
Disgusting Victorian Tooth Care Habits
What did people use before toothpaste and toothbrushes as we know them today were widely available? Is the question we can hear you all excitedly asking. Well the answer is quite surprising actually. One of the most common tooth cleaning agents was salt, while brushes themselves were fashioned out of pig or horse hair. This doesn’t sound like a winning combination to us, but this was the method of choice back in Victorian times. Surly it’s no wonder lots of people had terrible teeth back then.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, canopy baths became desirable fixtures in the bathrooms of more wealthy folk. Featuring beautifully crafted styling, these baths comprised of a freestanding tub which was paired with a matching hooded canopy that surrounded the occupier and allowed them to have the option of a shower. Some of these baths even had well-sculpted wooden enclosures to house them in, and accessories such as shampoo spray options integrated into the canopy. Make no mistake; this was the height of luxury. We think these items are charming, and you can still have one today if you’re willing to pay good money for it. Be prepared for some weird glances from your visitors if you install one though!
Rob, Victorian Plumbing