State apartments are all very well, and I can be easily awestruck by, say, a magnificent painted ceiling, or candle stands that tower over my head.
But the most fun for me in touring a historic site is looking into the less public spaces: kitchens, for instance. Wine cellars. Bathrooms.
Not too long ago we looked into Queen Caroline’s (Caroline of Ansbach 1683-1737) bathroom at Hampton Court Palace.
Nowhere in my perambulations, however, did I come upon the King’s bathroom. I did find his lavatory, though.
King William III (1650–1702) was not an extrovert. He liked to be alone or with small groups of friends. One of the places where he could have some privacy was what’s called the King’s Closet. Here he’d meet with the privileged few and work at his modest-looking walnut desk. His long-case clock nearby needs to be wound only once a year—highly advanced technology for the time.
And in this private area, not far away, and in plain sight between the jib doors* is King William's own actual close stool. According to the brochure, “the Groom of the Stool was a senior courtier who not only ran the Bedchamber department but also had to personally attend the king on his ‘stool.’”
I leave you to surmise what attendance entailed.
*In architecture a jib door is a door made flush with the wall, without dressings or mouldings, often as a disguised or concealed door.—Probert Encyclopaedia of Architecture.