Sawney’s seat
The social imaginary of the London bog-house c.1660–c.1800
in Bellies, bowels and entrails in the eighteenth century
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In eighteenth-century, London excremental horror was overlaid with a more pragmatic sense of why women might dispose of a dead child in a bog-house. As Sawney in the Bog House reveals, the visitor had not grasped the cultural logic of a multi-seater privy. Although the spatial symbolism and social situation of the privy in earlier centuries were very different, its cultural resonance was no less far-reaching. In The Political Bog-House Fox sits uncertainly, clad half in tartan and half in English clothes, half in and half on the double privy. The privy, convenience, necessary-house, bog-house, house of office belonged to the city's 'backstage'; it was a place to which one withdrew; it was emptied by a lowly, often stigmatized group, the nightmen. Modern historiography instinctively sees the privy as liable to mephitic malfunction. But the London privy did more than veil metropolitan arses.

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