Did Richard II invent the en-suite….?

 

Richard II is (always laughingly) described as having invented the handkerchief. That he was a ridiculous fop is always the implication. Yet we don’t think twice now about using handkerchiefs…the previous disgusting habit of wiping one’s nose on one’s sleeve is long-gone, thank goodness.

Yet I’ve now learned another of Richard’s so-called peculiarities. When he had the palace of Sheen destroyed because his beloved Anne of Bohemia died there, he made changes when it was rebuilt. It’s well-known that he had a bathhouse with large bronze taps for hot and cold water, but is it so well known that he ordered every room to have a fireplace and a personal latrine? Medieval en-suites? Lordy above, how many modern houses boast en-suites for every bedroom? Not many. But we’d sure like them all to be.

So was Richard II a preposterous dilettante? Or a man who instinctively preferred to be clean and pre-empted the modern age accordingly? When it comes to en-suite bedrooms, he was way ahead of us, even now in 2021! Good for him. No wonder he’s one of my favourite monarchs.

I found the above information (and much more) in Richard II and the Invention of the Pocket Handkerchief by George B Stow, which is available at JSTOR.

Advertisement

8 comments

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: