AskDefine | Define garderobe

User Contributed Dictionary

see Garderobe



garder keep.


  1. Historical: A store room or wardrobe.
  2. Historical: A lavatory. Usually in a castle built into the outer wall, with vent directly over the moat or midden.

Extensive Definition

According to Frank Bottomley (renowned Medieval Architecture scholar and author of numerous books), Garderobes were "Properly, not a latrine or privy but a small room or large cupboard, usually adjoining the chamber or solar and providing safe-keeping for valuable clothes and other possessions of price: cloth, jewels, spices, plate and money." This definition is upheld by the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary which states that the etymology of the word garderobe comes to us through Middle English originating from the Old French words garder (to watch, to guard) and robe (clothing). The entry provides three definitions for garderobe with the first being, "a wardrobe or its contents." The second definition names a garderobe as "a private room" or "bedroom", while the final definition in the entry for garderobe is "privy."
There were often holes in the outer walls of large structures and castles which led to cess pits or moats (depending on the structure of the building involved.) These holes were most often placed inside a small, private chamber which led to the use of the term garderobe to describe them, when in fact privy is more appropriate. Many of these privy holes can still be seen (from the inside and out) in Norman and Tudor castles. They became obsolete with the (re)introduction of indoor plumbing.
Bürresheim Castle in the Rhineland-Pfaltz state of Germany has 3 garderobes. "...the rectangular castle keep dating from the 12th. century, and raised in height to five storeys in the 15th century....Only the fifth floor added in the late gothic period has rectangular windows and can be recognized as the dwelling for the tower watchman through its chimney and garderobe."


garderobe in German: Aborterker
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