King John’s Court, 15th and 16th centuries
Rubbish and other objects excavated from the moat can tell us about the people who lived in the manor house. Fragments of expensive Venetian glass were found. A dress pin and a decoratively slashed shoe hint at what the inhabitants wore. The moat also produced evidence of what they ate, including charred grain and pulses, such as peas.
Worcester Place, 17th and 18th centuries
A brick cesspit produced pottery dating to c 1570-1610, as well as fragments of English glass vessels. Most of the pottery was for the storage, preparation or serving of food. It was largely made around London, or in Surrey and Hampshire, but some was also imported from the Netherlands and Spain.
This small ceramic vessel was probably made in Spain after about 1500. It has thick walls and may have been used to hold mercury, which was used in medicine at this time. It may have belonged to the physician Richard Mead, who lived here from 1696 to 1719.
19th-century terraced housing
In the early 19th century part of Worcester House was demolished and a road, Garden Street, and houses were built. Some of the houses had wells and these produced pottery and other items, including a nutcracker and brooch. They also produced seeds from blackcurrant, redcurrant or white currant and exotic spices such as black pepper and allspice.
In the 1860s cholera killed more residents in Stepney than any other London borough. This led to the extension of mains sewers to the East End. The cesspits in the backyards of the houses on Garden Street were abandoned. They were filled in with rubbish, including these pots and other items.
In Victorian times most houses did not have indoor toilets. So people kept a chamber pot in their bedroom to go to the toilet in at night. In the morning they would throw the contents into a hole in their back yard called a cesspit. Sometimes chamber pots had funny pictures and rhymes on them. Look at the shocked man on the inside of this chamber pot.