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Author: Nadia Bajzelj,Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants

In 2019, GML Heritage Pty Ltd (GML) were engaged by ISPT Pty Ltd (ISPT) to undertake an historical archaeological investigation of 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne. This location encompasses two sites listed on the Victorian Heritage Inventory (H7822-1024 and H7822-1025). The sites were used as domestic residences (1864-1918) before the construction of a Women’s VD Clinic (1918) and a Tuberculosis Bureau (1928) (GML 2019). The recovered artefact collection, comprising approximately 40,000 artefact fragments, was catalogued and analysed by Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants.

364-378 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne toilet wares

Photo 1: toilet wares from 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street (photograph by Grace Stephenson-Gordon, Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants)

The items pictured are ceramic artefacts relating to 19th-century hygiene practises. The majority of these items are chamber pots, but a chamber pot lid, wash basin and a brush box and lid were also identified. All are made from earthenware and decorated with transfer printed designs in black, blue, green and purple. These artefacts are from high significance contexts associated with the single-storey cottages of 366, 368 and 370 Little Lonsdale Street.

Concepts of hygiene during the 19th-century were evolving and changing dramatically from those of previous centuries. In earlier eras a link had been made between bathing and the spread of disease, but the people of the 19th-century began to see the relationship between cleanliness and disease prevention, with cleanliness becoming closely tied with a person’s respectability (Davidoff and Hall 2002: 382; Everleigh 2002: 65; Grigg 2008; Halliday 1999: 17). 'Cleanliness, like good manners became an indicator of respectability while dirt and squalor were seen as threats to moral as well as physical health' (Everleigh 2002: 65). Having a full toilet service was therefore highly desirable for 19th-century homes, and would have included items such as the chamber pot (possibly with a cover), large and small wash basins and ewers, a covered soap box with drainer, a covered sponge bowl, a covered toothbrush box or toothbrush vase, a foot bath and many additional extras (Copeland 2000: 24).

The chamber pots excavated from 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street represent the most common hygiene items recovered from 19th-century domestic sites. Chamber pots were stored under the bed or in a nightstand. When looking at the alternative toilet solution of the 19th-century – the water closet – which was located outside the house, the usefulness of the chamber pot is obvious. The chamber pot was a convenient option when needing to use the toilet in the middle of the night as it did not necessitate trudging outside in the cold and dark. In the morning, the pot would be emptied and cleaned and the waste disposed of. But wouldn’t this smell be rather overwhelming when you went back to bed? Yes, strangely enough human waste was no better then, than it is now. In order to minimise odours, chamber pots were usually (but not always) covered with pieces of cloth, newspapers, or a chamber pot lid (as pictured).

364-378 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne toilet wares

Photo 2: chamber pot with lid from 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street (photograph by Grace Stephenson-Gordon, Christine Williamson Heritage Consultants)

REFERENCES
COPELAND, R. 2000: Ceramic Bygones and other unusual domestic pottery. A Shire Book. Great Britain.
DAVIDOFF, L. and C. HALL 2002: "'My own fireside': the creation of the middle-class home." Family Fortunes: Men and Women of the English Middle Class 1780-1850. Revised Edition. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 357-396.
EVELEIGH, D.J. 2002: Bogs, Baths and Basins: The Story of Domestic Sanitation. Stroud, England: Sutton.
GML 2019: 364-378 Little Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, Historical Archaeological Research Design. Report to Case Meallin Pty Ltd & ISPT Pty Ltd.
GRIGG, T. 2008: Health & Hygiene in Nineteenth Century England in Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/articles/1615, accessed 02 May 2019.
HALLIDAY, S. 1999: The Great Stink of London: Sir Joseph Bazalgette and the Cleansing of the Victorian Capital. Sutton Publishing Ltd, England.

Written by Catherine Tucker and Bronwyn Woff

In August and September ASHA hosted two workshops in Melbourne that were a great success!

The workshops were a beginners guide to historic artefact identification, and conservation basics for archaeologists.

Both events were fully booked with 40 attendees, and waiting lists for extra places.

Dr Christine Williamson, Bronwyn Woff and Holly Jones-Amin presented respectively on ceramic artefacts, glass bottle basics and in-field conservation first aid.

We would like to thank Heritage Victoria and their staff for the use of the Artefact Centre and the archaeological collections as well as their assistance in helping with the events.

If you would like to suggest or help organise ASHA events in your region, contact events@asha.org.au




Compiled by Blog Editor

Recent excavations of the cellar of a Georgian coffeehouse in Cambridge, UK have uncovered many hundreds of artefacts related to the business and it's customers. The works took place ahead of building works by St John’s College, Cambridge. Archaeologist Craig Cessford, from Cambridge University’s archaeology unit stated that “coffeehouses were important social centres during the 18th century, but relatively few assemblages of archaeological evidence have been recovered and this is the first time that we have been able to study one in such depth" through the artefacts recovered, which ranged from tea and servingware to remnants of calves feet used to make jelly for patrons.

For more information, see: www.theguardian.com/science/



Bronwyn Woff

This month’s Artefact of the Month an interesting looking bulk ink bottle with multiple impressed marks found on its body and base. This bottle was found on a historic excavation in the north of Melbourne’s CBD. It was excavated during works for a multi-story apartment building, from a c1850s+ light industrial site.


The ink bottle is made from stoneware, with a light brown salt glaze, and has an unusual square-shaped finish and spout. It stands 205mm tall, and has a diameter of 90mm. The bottle is well marked, with two makers marks (17 / DOULTON / LAMBETH and 3 / DOULTON / LAMBETH) on the base and on the body near the base respectively, as well as a registration diamond (IV / 28 / 9 Rd V / W) representing 28 March 1876 on the body near the base.

The two Doulton / Lambeth marks on the base and body of the bottle indicate that it was made by Doulton & Co. The company began as a partnership in the early 1800s, and worked from a pottery in Lambeth. From 1854 the company became Doulton and Co, and began using marks similar to those seen on this artefact. The company was granted a Royal Warrant in 1901, and from 1902 began adding ‘Royal’ to their mark, as well as a crown and lion (http://thepotteries.org/allpotters/356.htm).


Registration diamond marks such as these were used to denote that the design of an object, or the design of the decoration (for example, ceramic or textile patterns) were copyrighted to the designer. The diamond itself notes the date that the registration occurred, and therefore marks only a start date for that object. For more information on registration diamonds on ceramics, see A. Brooks An Archaeological Guide to British Ceramics in Australia 1788-1901 2005:74 which was published by The Australasian Society for Historical Archaeology and The La Trobe University Archaeology Program (although out-of-print, the complete book is available as a download for all current ASHA members through the members portal HERE).



Jessie Garland and Angel Trendafilov, Underground Overground Archaeology

Angel Trendafilov, of Underground Overground Archaeology, has been monitoring the bulk out of the new Convention Centre in Christchurch with the assistance of Kirsa Webb, Tristan Wadsworth, Teri Anderson, Hamish Williams and Peter Mitchell. The site, which was home to a variety of commercial, professional and residential activities in the 19th century, has yielded a large (and still growing) artefact assemblage, several brick lined and artesian wells (see below image), a large number of rubbish pits, and structural features.


Many of the artefacts date to the 1840s-1860s period, suggesting that at least some of the material found may be associated with the early decades of European settlement in Christchurch. The assemblage contains a wide range of artefact types, including several unusual clay smoking pipes, elaborately decorated glass vessels and uncommon ceramics.


Notable artefacts so far include: an early 19th century imitation Mason's jug; a Price and Co. Bear's Grease pot lid; and an imitation engraved Batavian ware dish (see above image).

     

We have also uncovered a French clay pipe with a moulded Native American figure on the bowl (see above image) and a floor tile made by Jackson and Bishop, one of the earliest large scale brick making companies in Christchurch (see below image).


We don't yet know whether the artefact assemblages relate to the residential, commercial or professional uses of the site, but it is worth mentioning that there was a fancy goods store and an auctioneers among the many occupants crammed on to these sections in the 1860s and 1870s.


 

For more information about the archaeology of Christchurch, check out the Underground Overground Archaeology blog "Christchurch Uncovered" at:  http://blog.underoverarch.co.nz/

Artefact images: Jessie Garland
Excavation images: Hamish Williams