The History of the Shower

Today we can design and decorate our showers with ease. But have you ever stopped to wonder how the shower we take for granted came to be? What exactly is the history of the shower you use every day?

Today we can design and decorate our showers with ease. But have you ever stopped to wonder how the shower we take for granted came to be? What exactly is the history of the shower you use every day?

Early History of The Shower


In ancient times, people first used the waterfall as a method of showering, realizing that the cascading water provided a more effective method of cleaning that merely swimming in ponds or lakes.

However, waterfalls weren’t always easy to come by, so people developed additional shower methods. In Egypt, showers were taken by having servants dump pitchers of water overhead.

The Advent of Plumbing

It was the ancient Greeks who first began channeling water via aqueducts made from lead pipes to make communal shower rooms and bath houses (as well as providing drains to take the used water away). Spouting fountains were also used for showers.

No Showers!

After the fall of Rome, hygiene was associated with vanity, and many people avoided bathing altogether. It wasn’t until after the Black Plague that bathing was more widely associated with health benefits. Even so, in the beginning, it was common to wash only visible parts of the body, such as the hands and face. This practice occurred up until the 18th century.

Those who did bathe fully would do so in lakes and ponds or, if brought into the home, the entire family would reuse the same water before throwing it out since water could be difficult to obtain. It was only the lords and ladies who could afford their own baths, heated by servants, and scented with oils, perfumes, and flower petals.

Modern Showers

William Feetham, a stove maker from London, was granted the first patent for a shower in 1767, starting the modern history of the shower. His design used a pump to force water into an upper basin located above the bather’s head. Then, a chain would be pulled to release the water in a gushing stream. This became a popular alternative to bathing in a tub since it used less water than a bath, meaning there was less work to be done after bath time ended.

Designer Showers

The first designer shower appeared in the 1800’s by an anonymous inventor. Dubbed The English Regency, this special shower had a metal frame painted to resemble bamboo. Like Feetham’s shower, a hand pump was used to force the water through pipes, to a basin overhead that would release the flow in a spray.

Indoor Plumbing

After the invention of indoor plumbing around 1850, showers could be connected to a free flowing water source, making bathing easier and more sanitary than ever! However, showers as we know them today didn’t appear in earnest until after the 1960’s. As designs became more standard and streamlined, the shower also expanded into creative design, such as colored lights and body jets, which first appeared in the 1980’s.

Need a Shower Remodel?

Now that you know the history of the shower, ask yourself:  Is your shower older than the Roman Empire? Contact us, and we’ll provide you with a free, on site consultation.