Cisterns, Troughs

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Limestone Cistern

Limestone Cistern


While a limestone cistern may look simple to the uneducated eye, this antique is actually a living piece of history. Back 200+ years, the laundry was washed using these “ponnes”, or cisterns; noted for their curved bowl-like sides. Earlier in history, you would collect the linens all throughout the year for its annual or bi-annual cleaning; this was called “The Grand Wash”. Usually a group/neighborly project, all the linens would be thoroughly rinsed with cold water and then spread out and then sprinkled with wood ash – mixed with water into a laundering product called “lye”. They would layer the linen and a layer of lye over and over in the cistern until it was filled. Then it would sit for 24 hours and then they would pour in boiling hot water to run the ashes through the linens, effectively disinfecting them. Once the hot water was run through the lye-filled cisterns, they were drained through the hole at the bottom of the ponne and wrung out. Then the people would place the linens in a, usually designated, place in town called “the bleaching ground”. During the day, the sunshine helped bleach off-white cloth while drying it; but there is a special region of Northern Bordeaux had a process involving moonlight and grass that made their “whites” more white than the regular drying process. This whole process was about 2 days to complete. This would be perfect for a garden feature, foliage feature, or even a water feature. Beautiful pale limestone makes this cistern the perfect addition to any secret garden.








Early 19th Century

Overall Dimensions

Width: 35 " / 89 cm
Height: 36 " / 91 cm
Depth: 36 " / 91 cm

Inside Dimensions

Width: 27,5 " / 70 cm
Height: 33 " / 84 cm
Depth: 27,5 " / 70 cm