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The Tudor Society

November 20 – Sir John Harington and his flush toilet

On this day in history, 20th November 1612, in the reign of King James I, Sir John Harington died.

Harington was a courtier and author, and also the late Queen Elizabeth I's godson.

In Elizabeth I's reign, he had invented the Ajax, or “jakes”, England’s first flush toilet.

Find out more about Sir John Harington and his invention...

How much do you know about the inventors and inventions of the Tudor period? Test your knowledge with a quiz - click here.

And you can find out more about 16th century inventions in a talk here.

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    John Harington is one of my favourite Elizabethans. A lively letter writer and a wonderful source of gossip. He went everywhere and knew everyone, and his mother Isabella Markham was a long-serving Lady of the Queen’s Bedchamber. So he had good sources, though he liked to make a tale worth the telling.
    The dinner (at Wardour Castle?) where the development of his jakes was first discussed was, according to John, very lively. I would like to have been there!

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November 20 – Sir John Harington and his flush toilet