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One of the baths supplied by Thomas Crapper

Ablutionary Mystery

We are running a mini-quiz in The Oldie magazine. What is the etymology of ‘crap’, we wanted to know. Curiously, the answer is to be found in The Victorian House Book.

At the back of The Victorian House Book is a list of recommended suppliers of goods and services. Under Bathrooms comes the firm that gave its name to the ‘crapper’ or water closet, from which we derive an inglorious noun and verb. They are Thomas Crapper & Co. Ltd, founded in 1861. As you would expect, they manufacture lavatories and W. C. seats, but they can also fit you out with baths, basins, taps and bathroom accessories. They claim that all their products are ‘ultra-authentic’ and not the ‘vaguely Victorian’ sanitary ware that is generally available. Lucinda Lambton and Adam Hart-Davis, among others, have written glowing reviews of their period detail and thunderous flush!

On their web-site Thomas Crapper have a little dissertation on the etymology of terms connected with their name, as well as the mixed meanings of lavatory and basin. Find them under Victorian House Decoration on our Links page.

click here. If you would like a copy, order here.

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