Who designed the water closet?
The first WATER CLOSET was designed by the Elizabethan poet Sir John Harington and installed at his country seat, Kelston, near Bath, in 1589, by a local craftsman known to the history of sanitation only by his initials, ‘T.C.’. In 1596 Harington described his invention in a book called The Metamorphosis of Ajax (a pun on `jakes’, the slang word then used for lavatory), which itemized the materials necessary for its construction together with their price-30s 6d for the complete installation—and included diagrams to show how it worked. Water was drawn from a cistern—depicted with fish swimming in it—into the pan of the bowl, and flushed into a cesspool beneath when a handle in the seat was pulled to release a valve. Harington’s water closet resembled a modern flush lavatory in all important respects, having a reservoir of water constantly in the bowl to prevent foul air rising from the pipe, and a discharge that flushed down all the inside walls.
Despite the practical instructions given in his book, only two Harington water closets are known to have been built, the Kelston one for his own use, and another at Richmond Palace, installed at the express command of Queen Elizabeth, who was Harington’s godmother. Both courtier and Queen were noted in their time for a singular attention to hygiene.