Spinning Stories


Laundry and washing in Medieval Winchester by cqualmann

There’s a contrast in the attitude in medieval Winchester between laundry and personal hygiene and washing.  We know there is one of the first recorded fines for an environmental offence in Winchester when a washer woman was took to court on very wealth man called John De Tytyng for animal offal and other nasty things in one of the open brooks which endangered her livelihood as a washer woman.  And amazing enough her case was upheld… and John De Tytyng this very, very wealthy man, was fined and told to desist from putting pollutants in the brooks because it was seriously effecting this woman’s livelihood as a washer woman.

Now contrast this with what we know about bath houses in medieval Winchester which were regarded as basically a bathhouse was euphemism for a place of ill repute.  Why else would you go somewhere and take your clothes off.  There were several bathhouses but they had to be, because of their bad reputation, outside the town walls.  They were areas of ill repute so by contrast where the open brooks were kept clean so you could do your laundry or have a washer woman do your laundry, personal bathing was a bid odd, somewhat perverse and had to be kept outside the walled area.

Transcript from an interview with Ken Qualmann at the Boundary Estate Community Launderette, 10th August 2009

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