logo - Join me in the 1900s early C20th
Florence Cole as a child

Commodes: as used in old houses
with no indoor lavatory

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Commodes were (and still are) essentially chamber pots built into chairs.

Commode open, showing its chamber pot

Closed commode looking like an ordinary chair

Commode. Left closed and right open.

In Victorian and Edwardian households commodes must have been necessary for the older members of the family. My mother's grandmother, who ended up living with the family on their Victorian terraced estate was 92 when she died, and at that age would doubtless have wanted a 'lavatory' in the night. She could hardly have been expected to handle a chamber pot or go outside to a lavatory.

In those times 'family' commodes could be very attractive pieces of furniture, and it would have been quite difficult to tell that they were not ordinary chairs. They had removable padded cushion-style lids which not only improved appearances but must also have kept down the smell.

It is surprising that my mother never mentioned commodes in her recollections, as they must have been a feature of all households with no indoor lavatory.

Nowadays commodes are mainly found in old people's homes.

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