Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The Long Drop Netty (NY800769)

© Copyright Mike Quinn and licensed for reuse 

If you’ve ever seen one of those old castle toilets known as garderobes on a visit to one of our National Trust properties, you will know exactly what is going on at the Long Drop Netty near Stonehaugh on the edge of Wark Forest. Garderobes, you see, were castle privies which incorporated an external ‘drop’ of some several metres which deposited human waste into the castle moat. And at old Low Roses Bower a little to the east of Stonehaugh can be found just such a contraption – minus the castle, of course.

The Long Drop Netty was essentially the outdoor loo of Low Roses Bower (a bower being a sort of secluded country cottage) – which, I think, also serviced the nearby and more modern Roses Bower farmstead. Its operational details barely need describing – the little room sitting on an overhang above the Warks Burn. All very hygienic, I suppose, if a little draughty. It is believed to be the longest drop of its kind in England and dates back to the 18th century. Low Roses Bower itself may originally have been a 15th/16th century bastle, but it came to be associated with one Rosamund Dodd, who is supposed to have used the spot as a romantic hideaway for her and her lover. Amazingly, the netty itself was in use into the 1950s.

Curiously, though Low Roses Bower is no longer in use and in ruins, the Long Drop Netty itself has recently been lovingly restored.  Additionally, and fittingly, the toiletry outpourings stand opposite a geological feature shown on OS maps as ‘Windy Edge’. Brilliant.

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