Chamber Pots in Post-Medieval Worcester Households

My research for a PhD at the University of Worcester focuses on the place of pottery in seventeenth and eighteenth century Worcester households, using archaeological evidence and information from probate inventories which listed possessions at the time of death.  The collections housed by the City Museum have been crucial in establishing the range of wares and functional forms in use at this fascinating period, leading up to the advent of industrial scale production in the later eighteenth century.  Excavations in Worcester over the years have produced a corpus of post-medieval material which has not been examined in this systematic way up to now.  The boxes in the stores have assemblages from excavations going back to the 1960s and 70s (Broad Street, Whiteladies, New Street), up to Deansway in the late 80s, and more recently City Arcade, Castle Street, Newport Street and the Commandery.   Analysing collections of broken chamber pots may look like a somewhat esoteric activity, but I hope that, taken with the parallel analysis of household contents from probate inventories, it will begin to create a richer and more rounded picture of the material culture of early modern Worcester, and form a model which can be used elsewhere.

Bob Ruffle is a PhD student at the University of Worcester. For more information regarding the City Museum’s archaeology collections please contact Deborah Fox at


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