Saturday, 23 April 2011

Saint George's Day April 23rd

Our Earth Closet - A Little Piece of Old England
Saint George is a very military saint.  In England the earliest dedication to Saint George is a church at Fordington in Dorset.

Henry Moule became vicar at Fordington in 1829 and invented the dry earth closet (a composting toilet) after observing the effects of the cholera epidemics of the late 1840s and 1850s and the generally poor state of sanitation in the slums in his parish.

One of his many works on the subject is entitled :
‘The Impossibility overcome: or the Inoffensive, Safe, and Economical Disposal of the Refuse of Towns and Villages,’ 1870;

The principle is to cover waste with earth rather than to flush it away with water.  The practice is even mentioned in the Bible.  Moule went on to prove that the output could be used as a very effective fertiliser in the garden.

Queen Victoria had one of Moule's earth closets at Windsor Castle.  It would have had a bucket of dry earth installed and a lever to tip the bucket when she had done what she had to do.

We have an old earth closet at the bottom of our garden.  It's not quite as sophisticated as Queen Victoria's.
The cat sleeps on the roof.

Moule's system was widely adopted and was used in military camps.  It must have made life a bit better there.  I like to think that as a military man Saint George would have approved.