Sanitation in Urban Britain, 1560-1700: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Sanitation in Urban Britain, 1560-1700

1st Edition

By Leona J. Skelton


200 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781848935921
pub: 2015-12-08
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Popular belief holds that throwing the contents of a chamber pot into the street was a common occurrence during the early modern period. This book challenges this deeply entrenched stereotypical image as the majority of urban inhabitants and their local governors alike valued clean outdoor public spaces, vesting interest in keeping the areas in which they lived and worked clean.

Taking an extensive tour of over thirty towns and cities across early modern Britain, focusing on Edinburgh and York as in-depth case studies, this book sheds light on the complex relationship between how governors organised street cleaning, managed waste disposal and regulated the cleanliness of the outdoor environment, top-down, and how typical urban inhabitants self-regulated their neighbourhoods, bottom-up. The urban-rural manure trade, sanitation infrastructure, waste-disposal technology, plague epidemics, contemporary understandings of malodours and miasmatic disease transmission and urban agriculture are also analysed.

This book will enable undergraduates, postgraduates and established academics to deepen their understanding of daily life and sensory experiences in the early modern British town. This innovative work will appeal to social, cultural and legal historians as well as researchers of history of medicine and public health.

Table of Contents

Introduction Chapter 1: The Character of the Environmental Challenge Chapter 2: York’s and Edinburgh’s Sanitation in National, Demographic, Legal and Governmental Context Chapter 3: Civic-Funded Sanitation Services: Street Cleaning, Waste Disposal and Drainage Chapter 4: Regulating Insanitary Nuisances Conclusion

About the Author

Leona J. Skelton is Post-Doctoral Research Assistant in the History Department at University of Bristol, UK.

About the Series

Perspectives in Economic and Social History

We welcome new submissions for Perspectives in Economic and Social History. Please contact the series editors, Jari Eloranta (Economic History) and Andrew August (Social History), or Natalie Tomlinson, Editor for Economics at Routledge (

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Modern / 17th Century