AN ANCIENT lavatory at St John the Baptist Hospital, an 11th century almshouse in Canterbury, has been “twinned” with a block of latrines in a school in Pakistan.
St John’s was founded by a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lanfranc, in 1084, and the building dates from this time, although it is no longer in use as a lavatory. The buiding is now linked with a primary school in Badin district, in Sindh province, after St John’s signed up to Toilet Twinning, an initiative from the Christian development agency Tearfund.
Toilet Twinning raises funds to provide clean water, sanitation, and hygiene education in some of the poorest communities in the world. In return for a donation, St John’s received a certificate of its twinning, photographs of the school, and its GPS co-ordinates.
“We are delighted to support such a worthwhile cause while raising awareness of our own historic building,” the Bursar of St John’s, Sharon Keenor, said. “There were originally two [lavatory] blocks, male and female, and it is the male block that remains standing. We do not use the toilet as it is particularly drafty, but it is classified as an ancient building.”
The chief executive of Toilet Twinning, Lorraine Kingsley, said: “Toilets are so basic that we tend to take them for granted. But in the countries where we work, children die for lack of proper sanitation — a basic pit latrine is, literally, a life-saver. We are thrilled that such a historic and interesting toilet as that within the St John has been twinned.”