Chamber Pot, late 17th century
Earthenware with slip decoration
Lent by the Chipstone Foundation 1999.7
Late 17th century
Before the age of modern plumbing, ceramic chamber pots were used as toilets. This example, however, was never usable. While it was being fired in the kiln, tiny pockets of moist air inside the clay expanded too quickly and caused the wall to explode. The hole made the chamber pot useless and the potter discarded it into the pottery’s waster pit.
The waster pit was discovered in the twentieth century in the town of Donyatt in Somerset, England. The chamber pot was excavated and carefully glued back together.
For historians studying the potteries in Donyatt, this chamber pot is a rare intact survival of a kiln “waster.” The pot also documents the use of “feathered” slip decoration, a surprisingly elaborate design for such a utilitarian vessel.