Tag Archives: toilet history

History of the Modern Toilet


Did you know that toilet seats were created thousands of years after the first toilets? There is still some debate on exactly how old the first toilet is, but researchers date the appearance of toilets back to either Scotland in 300 BC or to the Greek Island of Crete at the Palace of Knossos in 1700 BC. These inventions were simply clay pans connected to a running water supply. The original toilets had no seats.

About 4,500 years ago, toilets went through a bit of an evolution. Ancient, wealthy Egyptians’ commissioned carved limestone seats that were then situated over drainage gullets. Although these had to be flushed out with water manually, these devices were considered a luxury. Those who couldn’t afford them relied on ceramic pots or wicker seats with holes in their centers. Certainly, no toilet seat there either.

The Romans were the first civilization to provide hundreds of communal latrines, which were benches with holes, draining similarly to their Egyptian predecessors but still, no toilet seat.

In 1592, Sir John Harington, godson of Queen Elizabeth I invented the first flush toilet. It was a water closet that had a raised cistern and a small downpipe through which water ran to flush the waste. Sir John Harington’s chosen profession was a poet, but after he built himself a house and created the first ever flushing toilet, he was regarded as an inventor. Queen Elizabeth herself even tested and approved of his design. The idea of a flushing lavatory was eventually improved upon in 1775 when Alexander Cummings created a pipe underneath the toilet’s basin to minimize odors. Once again, no toilet seat; however, the use of the toilet became more widespread in the 1800s.

In the late 1880’s, master plumber and sanitary equipment company owner, Thomas Crapper, was commissioned by Prince Edward to design and install the plumbing in his new home. The design included 30 custom made porcelain toilets. After this first royal job, Thomas Crapper would go on to receive another commission from Edward while he was king and from King George V.

Finally, in 1927, Tom Bradney created the toilet seat as we know it. When he did this, he unwittingly polarized a population. Many people are still arguing to this whether the toilet seat should be left up or put down after use. What do YOU think is proper etiquette?

Need help with your toilet? FloHawks Plumbing Service knows toilets.

FloHawks has trusted and certified plumbing professionals who know the right way to fix your toilet quickly and professionally. To have your toilet serviced or a new toilet installed, give us a call anytime at (800) 356-4295 or use our convenient Schedule Your Service tool, which allows you to set an appointment that fits your schedule.