Fig. 380. Latrines in the Chateau de Marcoussis, France.* the part of the builders. They were vaults in stone and well ventilated, with doors for cleaning out. In castles
From Viollet le Due's Dictionary of Architecture
Fig. 381. Latrines in the Castle of Pierrefonds, France.* designed to shelter large garrisons, there was always a separate tower or structure reserved for the latrines. Fig. 380 shows the latrines of the chateau de Marcoussis in France, built in the 13th century, built in a narrow structure opening upon a small court. Several closets (four in this case) were placed side by side on each story and were connected by long chutes with the cesspool shown at the bottom. The building was open freely to the air on one side from top to bottom, and on the opposite side was provided with a large window as shown.
The next, Fig. 381, shows the latrines in the castle of Pierrefonds, built in the 15th century, to which a tower adjoining the rooms of the garrison was entirely devoted. A is a plan at the level of the ground and of the cesspool. C is the clean-out door. D a ventilator. E is a stone platform in the centre of the cesspool to facilitate emptying. B is a plan of the first floor. F is a passageway leading from the chamber G to the closet room H, which has a suite of four latrines at I, and the chute L, which serves the latrines in the stories above. The passageways F, connecting the various rooms with the latrines were provided with doors at both ends and were well ventilated, as were also the latrines themselves, which, moreover, were easily emptied from time to time; and thus these mediaeval arrangements were really very much better than the miserable structures with their abominable cesspools which serve us in the average country towns of the present day.
Violet le Due, in giving us these descriptions of the latrines of mediaeval castles, warns his readers against the stories about "oubliettes," with which the modern guide beguiles amateurs in their visits to these feudal ruins, describing how the cruel lords designed them as places from which they hustled their unsuspecting enemies into the abyss below. Nineteen times out of twenty, he says, these "oubliettes," the descriptions of whose horrors so strongly move the visitor, are nothing more than very common place latrines, just as many of the chambers of torture pointed out by the guides are nothing but ordinary kitchens.
Classification of Requirements.
The ideal water-closet should possess the following characteristics relating to: (1) the method of flushing; (2) the form; (3) the material; (4) the construction, including methods of connecting with soil and supply pipes, and provisions for ventilation; (5) the cost; and (6) the appearance.
(1.) The Flushing.
(a) Should be so contrived as to thoroughly remove all waste matter immediately and carry it completely into the waste-pipe.
(b) Should pass through the closet rapidly and concentrated in a mass or large volume so as to act powerfully in flushing the closet and drains.
(c) Should thoroughly scour all parts of the closet and trap.
(d) Should act noiselessly.
(e) Should be effected by a single simple movement, and require the minimum of strength or effort.
(f) Should be effected without spattering.
(g) Should do the work with the minimum of water.
(2.) The Form.
(a) Should be as simple as possible, and the extent of surface to be flushed as small as possible to facilitate the scouring, and there should be no surface, angle, or corner which does not receive the scouring.
(b) Should be compact, allowing the closet to be put in the smallest possible space.
(c) The level of the standing water in the bowl should not be over six inches below the top of the closet bowl.
(d) The sides of the bowl above the water level should be substantially perpendicular.
(e) The form of the bowl and trap should be such that the whole interior of the former and the deepest part of the latter may be visible and accessible from the outside.
(f) The form of the closet should be such as to allow of its convenient use as a slop-hopper or urinal as well as a water closet.
(g) The bowl should have in it a body of standing water of sufficient area and depth to receive and deodorize immediately all the waste matter it receives.
(3.) The Material should be tough and durable, with a perfectly smooth surface, which cannot be injuriously affected by the waste matters, changes of temperature, or any of the influences which are brought to bear upon it.
(4.) The Construction.
(a) Should be as simple as possible and have no pan, valve, gate, plunger or other obstructions to the water way.
(c) The closet should be constructed strong enough to hold the seat without the aid of any external support.
(d) It should require the minimum of labor in setting and permit of disconnecting with the minimum of effort.
(e) It should provide for thorough local ventilation.
(5.) The Cost of material, manufacture and setting should be at a minimum.
(6.) The Appearance. should be neat and ornamental, so as to require no casing or woodwork to conceal it.
Water closets may be divided into four classes or types.
I. Pan closets, II. Valve closets, III. Plunger closets, and IV. Hopper closets.
The first three are mechanical seal closets and the last simple water seal closets. Nevertheless the first really depend solely on a water seal as well as the last, because their overflows are usually provided with a water trap in any case. The real use of the mechanical seals is not to form an extra security against the entrance of sewer-air, as is commonly supposed, but to hold a certain amount of water in the bowl, so long as they can be kept water tight.