Monday, 24 October 2011

A Draining Matter

Continuing our efforts not to be unwashed barbarians, The Privy Counsel has been studying monastic drains this weekend, as part of our ceaseless efforts to edify and entertain you.
Monasteries tended to be built over a stream, so that the products of the privy could be carried away, and not linger to cause bad smells and disease. The two monasteries we happened to visit this weekend, Byland and Rievaulx, both in Yorkshire, sport magnificent drains. The art of building hygienic privies rather went downhill after the Reformation and, it could be argued, was not taken up again until well into the Victorian era.

Byland Abbey drain

Rievaulx Abbey: an intriguing drainage structure

A sink or tank of some description, with a hole and a drain underneath

More sink-and-hole action

The main monastic drain
If you happen to know what the large tank actually is, we could welcome an e-mail or a comment! Send us an edifying missive to!

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