What is the Groom of the Stool?

It may sound repulsive but English kings those days had male servants to attend to their toileting needs. It was King Henry VII who created the position in the early 16th Century. These servants were called “Grooms of the Stool”, who helped the king undress, provided the needed items for his toilet visits and also monitored the king’s diet and meal times to ensure he had no difficulty with regard to his bowel movements. Here the term “stool” refers to the portable commode that would have been carried around at all times for the king’s use. However, there are no records to suggest that the servants cleaned the king’s bottom after he used the toilet. Wondering how anybody would have opted for the job? Apparently, it was a coveted position in the king’s privy chamber!

Surely it is one of the most repulsive jobs in history. Perhaps surprisingly, it was the sons of noblemen or members of the gentry that were usually awarded the job. Over time, they came to act more as personal secretaries to the king and were rewarded with high pay and some great benefits such as the right to lodgings in every palace, the Sovereign’s old clothes, and the option to have any used bedchamber furnishings. Of course, one might hope to be reimbursed handsomely for such a role, especially if the Groom actually cleansed the royal posterior himself. In all fairness though, there are no historical records to suggest that the Groom went to these extremes, although he would have almost certainly helped the monarch undress for each occasion.

Quite amazingly, the role of Groom of the Stool carried on all the way until 1901 when King Edward VII decided to abolish it.

Picture Credit : Google

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