Henry VIII’s enemas

A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of crushing a pig with a quarter-ton weight to demonstrate the possible injuries caused in Henry VIII’s jousting accident of 1536.

I must reassure you that THE PIG WAS ALREADY DEAD, as was the animal used in this week’s piggy fun. I had the chance to play with a pig’s bladder to find out how Henry VIII’s enemas were administered: the liquid was squeezed out of the bladder along a short tube into the royal backside.  It was for the new series National Treasures Live which begins next week on BBC1, and we were making a short film about the Groom of the Stool.  We return time and time again to this job at the Tudor Court, partly because of its political importance, partly because people today are so shocked and amused that the well-born jostled for the position of helping the king go to the toilet.

We filmed in the archaeological store at Hampton Court, examining various Tudor lavatorial items (you’ll have to wait until next week to see which of them make it into the final cut).  For now, here’s (top) a frightening picture of our replica rectal syringe.  Yep, this was the hardcore alternative to the bladder and pipe.  No wonder this lady, waiting in bed for her enema, looks terrified.

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