From a human Toilet to a Mousetrap hair style! Only in Historical London!
Similar to a Human Toilet Costume.
The Human Lavatory
London has always been famous for its historic Victorian public toilets, or loos as they are called in England. Recently a lot of them have been closed down and many, although bizarre, have been converted into flats or even restaurants. But back in 1190 AD there were no such thing as toilets or bathrooms.
Many people would just 'go' where they stood! In fact most people would simply relieve themselves in the corner of their living rooms or bedrooms.
Even out in the streets many people would just drop down to the floor and do their business in front of other family members or even strangers.
But there were a few ladies who tried to keep their modesty intact. And for that reason their came a strange character called the Human Toilet.
These men and women wore voluminous capes, usually black, and they carried a bucket. When you needed the loo, or john, you would go in search of these rather strange people!
The charge was one farthing. You then sat on the bucket while the the human loo would stand above you holding the cape around you! There is hardly any record or names of these rather strange toilet people, but one does still exist.
His name was Thomas Butcher of Cheapside. The reason why he is still documented? Can you guess? Yes he overcharged the poor recipients and received a fine.
Nobody knows whether he carried on his rather doubtful job, but I am sure there were many more to take his place. Lets just say that he knew his business!
Toilet Humor! Funny stuff.
The Bicycle Throughout History.
The Nodding Bicycle. The Velocipede.
These days inventions seem to come out all ready for the market. But back in history there was a lot of scratching heads, tooing and frowing, and of course the silliest inventions that made headlines but soon disappeared as quickly as they had appeared.
One of these was the nodding bicycle. Well actually it was the rider who did the nodding.
this was one of the most absurd inventions by a man named Anton Oleszkiewicz. He was said to be more English than the, well, English! Even though is name was of Russian heritage.
His invention was a new take on the velocipede, the old name for a bicycle. He believed that he could improve it by rather strange means.
He noticed that the bicycles didn't work very well, so decided that by using the whole human body, it would make the bike work better.
In 1889, he announced that his new invention the Winged Messenger would change cycling for ever.
He added levers and springs, working their way from the back wheel through the saddle and attached to a harness that went around the cyclists body.
On paper it looked rather good. Until it was first tried by the unsuspecting traveler. It took him over half an hour to strap himself in.
But that wasn't all. He then had to attach himself to the levers. Then came the bizarre but hilariously funny part.
The rider had to get up to the normal speed then start throwing himself backwards and forwards to make the bike go faster through the use of the pulleys and levers. In theory the action would make the wheels go faster.
Oleszkiewicz set up a trial day in London's Hyde Park. But it didn't go to plan. Onlookers were horrified to see these stately Gentlemen riding past with what looked like apparent epileptic fits affecting the riders!
Amongst the astonishment from the crowd, two cyclists fell of the back of their machines because they suffered severe motion sickness!
And to add insult to injury, there was no sign of extra speed!
Oleszkiewicz however, did not give up. He went onto trying his luck with a flying machine!
History of the Bike.
17th Century Hair With Ornaments.
17th Century Hair With Flowers.
A Mousetrap On The Head!
Back in 1690 AD a new fashion began to take place. Women who had spent many centuries covering their heads suddenly found a new way to show off their hair. Not for them the simple style of the peasants. The fashionable aristocracy decided that they wanted large hairstyles and large they were given. But that was not good enough. Oh no.
So hair sculpture was born. And bizarre it was! First the hair would be piled up as high as it could possibly be. If it wasn't good enough then false hair was added. Then came the strange added contraptions such as plaster birds, ships made from wood, flowers or anything that the client would like.
To keep it all together, they would stiffen the hair with flour, chalk, and the most dangerous of all, arsenic powder.
They took hours to perfect, but were expected to stay in for weeks or months at a time.
So of course hair washing was out of the question, apart from not getting much sleep!
Of course amidst the filth of the day, mice and insects were a problem. Well, especially mice.
People could get used to fleas and ticks, bedbugs and rats. But the ladies bouffant magnifique' hairstyles were most important.
So, they came up with a solution. To save women from total humiliation while sitting in Church, or entertaining at home, they introduced the hair mousetrap!
Can you imagine the look on peoples faces if they saw a nest of mice emerge from the sweet smelling lady of the days hair piece? It was not the done thing.
The hair mousetraps, usually made of silver, were placed in the hair and around the woman's head while she slept. By the time morning came it was hoped that all the mice had been caught.
Of course there was a catch. What ever you do, don't move around in the bed at night. You may just catch your nose or other bodily parts in the traps!
Historical Hair Tutorial.
17th Century Wigs And Hairpieces
Historic, bizarre but genius too!
We may laugh at the inventions, fads and downright funny ideas that span throughout our history, but if it wasn't for these forward thinking people of the time we wouldn't have the magnificent inventions that we take for granted today.
All I can say is that thank goodness we now live in the age of enlightenment. But I still love watching the men and women who even today try to make the weird and wonderful come to life.
(c) copyright nell rose
Research London's Strangest Tales by Tom Quinn and other sources.
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