I have a strange feeling that I could have done with one of these in the middle of last night! ~ as I 'think' they hold 'chamber pots' ~ for the rich and privileged gentry in Victorian times, with some poor sod of a servant having to empty them in the morning.
people used outhouses before indoor plumbing was invented
but you didn't want an outhouse in the house (smell), and you didn't want to have to go to the outhouse in the middle of the night
so you used a chamber pot
Many thanks guys ~ just goes to prove that all the money my parents spent on my education came good at long last....LOL
Mind you all the answers before I posted helped a lot, as I would have initially said bedside cabinet, but when I read Bamber's note about 'what they hold' then it was a guess as they looked Victorian.