Kenilworth Castle in 1575
19. Inside Leicester's Building
The whole of Leicester’s Building was intended for Elizabeth and her retinue. Her private apartments were on the principal floor, while the ground floor chambers were for her ladies. The unheated rooms below were for the storage of her prodigious travelling wardrobe. The doors on the main floors open in a direction to encourage clockwise circulation between the chambers.
The Privy Chamber was probably divided into 2 rooms, and the East Privy Chamber was where Elizabeth typically dined. The storage room below the Privy Chamber has an unexplained opening in the floor, below the windows facing south to Leicester’s Building, which continues out through the external face of the wall.
There is a substantial 48 by 17-inch vertical recess running most of the height in the West facing internal dividing wall, extending down to a pit in the basement, to service the garderobes on each floor. According to local historian Dr. Richard Morris, this chute drains into a culvert beneath the basement floor.
At the same time there were at least 36 ‘close stools’ or commodes at Kenilworth, with padded seats and pewter pots (emptied and cleaned by servants), and covered in black velvet and gold lace. The built-in garderobes became unfashionable in the 17th century, when the wealthy preferred the more exclusive commodes (derived from the French and Latin for convenient) which could even be locked to prevent unauthorised use.