What was it REALLY like
back in Jane's world?
(Part One)


Jane's tower window has shutters, not glass. Back then windows let the cold wind in and were called wind eyes. Windeyes. Over hundreds of years the word changed to be easier to say and to spell, until the word became windows.

So why was there no glass in the windows?

Glass was INCREDIBLY expensive back then. It could only be made in tiny pieces that were joined together by lead strips, and so only the very rich could afford them.

A few of the royal rooms in the castle have glass in their windows. But they are too expensive to replace so everyone is very careful not to break them.

Smelly breath!

No-one in Jane's world had a toothbrush or toothpaste so did their breath smell and their teeth rot? Sometimes, but not always. In fact the poorer you were the better your teeth could be. There were two reasons for this.

One was the food they ate. Only the rich folk could afford the sugary foods that would decay the teeth - foods made with honey or sugar beet. Simple foods like bread and vegetables were much kinder on the teeth.

The other reason was the way they cleaned their teeth. Rich and poor both used a kind of toothbrush. They would snap a twig and chew the end till it was soft like a small brush, and then rub their teeth with it. They took great care to only chew the right kind of twigs because the wood of some trees can be very poisonous.

But very rich ladies of the Court sometimes polished their teeth with pumice stone. Ouch! This made their teeth a little whiter, but after a few years it rubbed away the protective cover on the teeth and made them decay even faster.

Toilet Paper.

There was no soft paper back in Jane's time. They had parchment, a very crisp and very expensive type of paper. So what did they use after they had been to the toilet!

How did they clean themselves!

They used leaves. Everyday someone on the castle staff would collect large fresh leaves and hang them on a hook near the seat above the toilet chimney. (Yes, they sat over a long chimney that dropped down to a collecting chamber at the base of the castle walls.)

Depending on the time of year different leaves were used. But the biggest and softest leaves were prized above all, and some plants had leaves that had natural perfumes that would rub off when you - used them.

One plant with large leaves that grew everywhere in England was the stinging nettle.

It caused a very itchy rash on any skin it touched. These were not good for the toilet!