Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tudor Revels

This is a rather belated post about May Day, I was staying with my son and his family in Suffolk and on the Sunday we went to the Tudor Re-enactment at Kentwell Hall. Kentwell is an Elizabethan manor house which was built in the late 16th Century by the Cloptons, a wealthy local gentry family.

Kentwell is a moated manor house. Originally built as a first line of defence the moats gradually became ornamental rather than practical.

In the kitchen servants were busy preparing the midday meal.

I really love all the  baskets and pottery from this period, I have quite a few replica bowls and jugs in my kitchen and would like more of them too:)

The lord of the manor and his guests at their midday meal.I thought this was interesting as it shows details of the clothes and also you can see that only the head of the household sat on a proper chair. The other guests and members of the household are sitting on wooden benches.

People are eating off either pewter plates or wooden trenchers and the utensils consist of only a knife and a spoon.It was perfectly acceptable, even in the most aristocratic circles, to use your fingers to pick up and eat many items of food.They are probably drinking ale as most water was polluted and dangerous to drink. Even children would drink 'small beer' which had a very low alcohol content.

Meanwhile these young girls were making May garlands weaving wildflowers and sprigs of willow or honeysuckle onto a circle made of willow withies. They are so pretty that I'm going to have a go myself next year as it's only the same priciple as I use to make my wreaths at Yule.

The procession of villagers going towards the Hall to begin the day's revelries. The man dressed in the colourful costume made of rags is the Master of Ceremonies who will  be taking part in the Mummer's play.

St George being despatched by Saladin! Of course being a Mummer's play St George is eventually restored to life in a very dramatic fashion by the Quack Doctor and lives to fight the Dragon another day:)

After the excitement of the play the gentry can relax and enjoy a quiet chat....


.....while the villagers look forward to the next part of the May Day celebrations as they return to the Village Green.

The high spot of May Day is the raising of the Maypole, a young tree gaily decorated with coloured ribbons.

The village band strikes up and......

.....the revels begin.

A certain young man has his first archery lesson. Through his grandmother (me!) the blood of Cheshire bowmen runs in his veins - they were reknowned as the finest archers of medieval England.

Earlier we had George and the Dragon, here we have George and the peacock:)

A quiet moment at the end of a wonderful day.


Roy said...

That was very interesting to read about Rowan.
Like the baskets, but I am not sure about Pewter plates though, must be like eating off of lead surface.
I have seen your previous posts in the past where you dress up in period clothes, but I cant quite imagine you in one of those funny white hats.{:)

pattypan.2 said...

What a lovely post - I was wondering how you had got on over the May Day weekend. I definitely like George and the Peacock. Kentwell looks a lovely place. I don't think its that far from us so it may be a place to visit. We are acquiring a car during the next few days so that we can go out and about and also take my mum with us. I am quite interested in the Tudor/Elizabethan period but haven't been to any enactments. I also loved the pottery. Hope you are keeping well and thank you once again for the post I always love reading your descriptions as for one small moment you always take me there.

Take care and keep up the good work



John said...

Could they be the same Clopton family who sold the village of Clopton (Cambs) in 1489 to pay off their debts, thereby forcing the inhabitants of that village from their land? Or am I just being cynical to imagine the gentry coming up smelling of roses after sinking into bankruptcy?
Whatever the truth of the matter is, you have now added Kentwell to the long list of places I must visit.

Piecefulafternoon said...

Absolutely fascinating and wonderful pictures. Thank you for sharing.

Wanda..... said...

The Tudor Re-enactment was an enjoyable post, Rowan. The pottery is similar to what my son-in-law used to make for a reproduction craftman's village here. He now teaches a pottery class at the local WMCA.

Your grandson makes a cute bowman!

Diane said...

Great post! Youve certainly had your share of Tudor moments this May! Did you see the photo that Rosie posted of us at our picnic? Your grandson is growing up - love the photo of him and the Peacock. Thanks for your company last weekend - really enjoyed it - and the Rocky Road went down a treat too! xxx

Rosie said...

What a week you had starting and ending with Tudors. I'd have loved to have seen all these May Day celebrations. I love the pottery, too! You must visit the Pottery Man on Steep Hill in Lincoln - he makes all those sorts of jugs and bowls. You have taken some lovely photos of the tudors and also of George and the peacock. It was lovely to meet you last Saturday, thanks for your company, hope we meet again soon:)

WOL said...

What a fun day you had! I love the manor house. "Living History" is always so much fun. If you are interested in period crockery, you might talk to this lady,
Don't know how "period" it is, but it is pottery.

Bovey Belle said...

That has brought back happy memories of taking the children (grown ups now!) to Kentwell about a dozen years back now. I would love to go there again as it's a period which has always fascinated me. The talking "in the vernacular" was a bit discomposing though!

Anonymous said...

What great pictures. I love re-enactment. It looks like you all had a wonderful time.
Hugs from The Netherlands.

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for visiting the Back Porch, Rowan!

I can't believe how well our irises are doing. I think the secret is, we had good soil brought in for the berms. Our ground is clay. It is always a surprise when anything survives!

I enjoyed your post, as always!

Anonymous said...

That's the kind of day out I would love to have, and it all looks very well done. I'm wondering what sort of food they were enjoying. George and the peacock ~ lovely.

Mac n' Janet said...

Loved the pictures, and of all the aristocratic houses moated manor houses are my favorite. Would love to find a living history day to attend when we go to England in September. Mac has sketched in the painting and is ready to start on it, I can't wait.

Gracie said...

How interesting! We have something similar, an event held every year at the Bardi Castle, in the hills outiside my hometow. I like to partecipate in this kind of events because I'm very interested in medieval history.

Janet said...

It looks as if you had a fun day. I love seeing all your photos of the festivities....I think all the clothing is interesting. I don't think I'd want to wear it but I like seeing it.

Anonymous said...

First off I love your header really pretty, What an amazing way to spend your Sunday, I love the pottery of coarse. ;) The whole feel of the event I would so enjoy a day of yesteryear! Beautiful! How's your garden's coming along?
have a great day,

laoi gaul~williams said...

i just love the costumes!
we are hoping to go to the Tewkesbury Medeaval Festival later this year~i might even dress up!

Alison said...

Hello there
Kentwell is lovely isn't it - I visited a few years ago and would love to go back. The re-enactment looks great, I have friends who do the Tudor period and I love the costumes.