I remember reading that workers pooped in the hallways of Versailles for their own pleasure some years ago, but can't find a confirming source by Googling. Can anyone enlighten me as to the actual history and whether what I heard is correct?

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    From my (admittedly limited) experience of building sites, I'd suggest that if they did not, that would be rather unusual. May 31, 2011 at 15:51
  • Better source for claim... webcache.googleusercontent.com/…
    – picakhu
    Jun 13, 2011 at 12:37
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    In The Clockwork Universe the author cites a reference from a historian from the 17th century who comments that the hallways of Versailles were "filled" with feces. I don't have my copy handy, though, so I can't find the exact reference right now. It seems that residents, guests, and just about everyone used the hallways as a bathroom.
    – Beofett
    Jun 13, 2011 at 12:48
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    I have witnessed flat roofers shitting down soil vent pipes on the tops of buildings. And elsewhere, they'll shit anywhere...
    – Hairy
    Jun 13, 2011 at 16:27
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    A History Channel segment that talks about the invention of the toilet, toilet paper, etc., mentioned that at huge parties at Versailles when hundreds of guests were present, they relieved themselves in the stairwells. They went on to say that they loaded themselves up with perfume to try to mask the stench although that is habit is common knowledge. Apparently this is not a urban legend.
    – user8925
    Oct 17, 2012 at 20:18

1 Answer 1


I found my copy of The Clockwork Universe. On page xvi of the preface, the author writes:

"Well over a century later, hygiene had scarcely improved. At about the time of Louis XIV's death in 1715, a new rule was put in place requiring that the corridors in the palace at Versailles be cleaned of feces once a week."

The cited reference for that information in the book is: Katherine Ashenburg, The Dirt on Clean, pg. 116.

It seems unlikely that the workers building it would be conscientious about not defecating in the hallways when the residents who moved in once it was complete felt that doing so was perfectly acceptable.

  • A popular book called "The Dirt on Clean", by an author who is not a domain expert but writes popular books on all sorts of subjects, doesn't strike me as a reliable source.
    – benrg
    May 21, 2023 at 1:57
  • @benrg the former chief science writer for the Boston Globe apparently disagrees with you, but your concerns are noted.
    – Beofett
    Jun 29, 2023 at 17:18

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