Groom of the Stole

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Groom of the Stole was the title of a close personal attendant on important people - in England, notably the king. The first duty was to accompany the king, or other employer, to the stole room, where the close-stole was housed. This was the king's personal lavatory (housed in a box which accompanied him on his travels) for the usual frunctions of excretion. The Groom of the Stool (as we now would spell it) accompanied His Majesty on these occasions; a more mealy-mouthed age preferred the euphemism the Groom of the Stole, claiming that the function was to assist His Majesty in dressing.

The necessary occasion given for intimate conversations rendered the Groom of the Stool a courtier of great importance. He was known in the seventeenth century as the first gentleman of the bed-chamber, and was, from Stuart times, almost invariably a nobleman of higher degree. Under female monarchs, there was a parallel office of First Lady of the Bedchamber or chief gentlewoman of the privy chamber, which overlapped with the Mistress of the Robes, still an office in the court of Elizabeth II.