It’s Casual Friday again (okay, it’s Saturday morning…just blame my ISP), and this week we’re going to take a look back in history at a Cool Job that no longer exists. I first read about this job in a wonderful book by Allison Weir called Henry VIII: The King and His Court, and it has intrigued me ever since.
The Groom of the Stool was a position in the court of Henry VIII bestowed upon a favored confidante and close friend of the King: it came with a title, a tidy sum of yearly compensation, and an “all access VIP pass” to the King’s Privy Chamber where decisions affecting the future of England were made. Due to his proximity to the King’s person (more about that in a moment), the mere word of a Groom of the Stool “was evidence of the King’s will”, according to British historian David Starkey.
Why does this cool job no longer exist, you ask? Well, basically because the job title described exactly what the Groom of the Stool’s main job function was: being responsible for the King’s Royal Potty Chair, and making sure the Royal Buttocks were clean and dry when the King had finished doing his Royal Duty (or should that read ‘Royal Doody’?)
The most famous Groom of the Stool was Sir Henry Norris, who was not only intimate with King Henry’s ‘private areas’ but also allegedly those of the King’s second wife — he was beheaded for adultery with Anne Boelyn in 1536. The title was changed some years later to the merely honorary and much less scatalogical ‘Groom of the Stole’, but was discontinued by 1901 because no one could think of any good jokes.
See? History CAN be fun!
And yes, I am expecting a lot of potty humor in the comments in this one.