Notes from A Day At Home in Early Modern England: Material Culture and Domestic Life 1500-1700

p 76 “The house in Stratford-upon-Avon where Tomas Hicox lived with his wife, Elizabeth, in 1611 epitomises the most striking trend in town … Here, cooking took place in the hall, and the buttery was for messier domestic tasks requiring more space. Elizabeth’s working morning might have begun at the ‘newe building’ at the back of their reasonably well-appointed house in Henley Street.. where firewood was stored for the kiln (for malt-making) and there was an ‘utinge vate’ for soaking barley for malt. From here she might have gone to the buttery, but rather than finding pewter or other items for serving food there she would have found the large open vessels for washing and brewing and some spinning-wheels in addition to her frying pan. She would have to take the pan into the hall, where her other pots and posnets (small metal cooking pots), kettles and dabnets (cooking utensils) were kept, around the only source of heat in the house. Here she could prepare a meal, using perhaps the Martinmas beed and the six flitches (sides) of bacon, smoking above the fire in preparation for winter.”

p. 78-9 “From the second half of the 18th century and through the 17th century, the variety of cooking and dining vessels increased as ranges of high-quality vehicles intended for cooking, serving and storage were produced by English potteries … types of object that had always been available to the elite in metal, and were now manufacturer in pottery for the first time, such as posset pots and large flanged dishes. The main innovations were in decorative wares, and the most rapid specialisation was in smaller cooking vessels, such as pipkins and skillets, or chafing dishes, which gave a gentle heat suitable for delicate dishes, and permitted cooking without lighting a main fire. All show a rapid process of specialisation that marks this period out as unique… distinctions of social practice could be made with new goods.

p.84 “Harvest failures were a feature of the 1590s and the first half of the 17th century was characterised by ‘sharp shocks of cereal shortages’ ‘that came cyclically, every seven years or so … had two other important knock-on effects on the production of meals: the consumption of many more vegetables, and the preservation of foodstuffs for much longer periods of time… Richard Gardiner, a burgess and dryer of Shrewsbury, who wrote Profitable instructions for the manuring, sowing, and planting of kitchin gardens. Very profitable for the commonwealth and grealy for the helpe and comfort of poore people, published in London in 1599. Addressing his fellow townspeople, Gardiner expresses his hope that the ‘vaine, fruitless and superfluous things may be taken out of good Gardens and sundry good commodities, to pleasure the poor planted therein’ – the commendatory poem lists these as carrots, cabbages, parnsips, turnips, lettuce, beans, onions, cucumbers, artichokes and radish, along with herbs…. This kind of extra growing space was crucial to provide food security and to develop the palate for savoury items that was emerging across the period. … meat and fish had always been preserved, new and improved techniques were being extended to fruit and vegetables.”

p 143 “Any early modern account book reveals a complementary pragmatic attention paid to locks and keys .. John Hayne, who kept a book detailing his household expenses and some elements of his business as an Exeter cloth merchant … when he began to make improvements to his new accommodation … an immediate priority was to regulate the movement between spaces … for the outside, he paid for two iron bays and stays to the courtilage (or courtyard) door and the ‘pack door’ (perhaps the door through which packs entered and left the premises) and a spring catch to the latch on the fore door (the door to the street). Inside, he paid for a new lock and key to the chamber door and for mending its patch, for a lock and key to the parlour chamber, and for a Dutch lock and key and two hasps for the great press there, presumably with his valuables in it. Finally, he paid to mend the lock of the closet… His servants were apparently able to move freely between commercial and shared domestic spaces.”

p. 154 “From the 1580s onwards, nests or frames of boxes began to appear in inventories… highly literate men had a professional need for such items of furniture, but the inventories such the developing textual elements of business transactions obliged some merchants and traders to think in the same terms … also apparently retained, in smaller numbers, admittedly, by wives carring on their husband’s business in some form or another… Joan Crisp of Sandwich, landlady to the various occupants of the house next door to the Three Kings, for instance, kept a nest of boxes in the chamber over her parlour.”

p. 159 “In Warwick in 1604, for example, around 20 different trades were being pursued in the town, but a petition of 1694, following a significant fire, listed nearly 50 different occupations, and they are ones that show the influence of the gentry tastes that sustained them: watchmaker, stationer, bookseller, confectioner, smiths, a clockmaker and a mimner”

p’ 159 “Joan Thirsk, in her pioneering book on import substitutes, has shown how locally manufacturer objects before Elizabeth’s reign were of a quality suitable only to serve local needs, so that more discerning customers looked abroad for domestic goods. By the end of the 17th century … the projects that had become established local industries included many key domestic manufeatures such as cooking pots, frying pans, knives, nails, pins, glass bottles, earthern pots and copperwares. Studying the imports of drinking-glasses into London, Godfrey argues that, after 1630 – the moment at which he says drinking-glasses became common in middling-status inventories – ‘English-made glass supplied the market entirely.’”

p. 173-4 “Boarding out was often part of the lifecycle of the middling identity, in which, first as an apprentice or a schoolboy, later in retirement or semi-retirement, a man might live in the houses of others. Giles Pooley, a London wholesaler, for example, ‘ broke up howse keeping’ in April 1653 and went to live with a business associate, Robert Carter, paying £20 a year for food and lodging and £8 for clothes. His daughter, his apprentice and his horses were also boarded out in different places across the city. John Gerrard of the parish of St Helen in Worcester, gentleman, 58 years old, states in his deposition about a will-making that at his wife’s decease he gave all his goods to his daughter so that he now lives only by his pen. Living in part of a house was also common for female relatives after the death of the head of the household.”

p. 175 “The silence and darkness of a space recently deserted [the shop] as activity moves towards the kitchen and parlour gives opportunity for those wishinhg to be alone.. [Burlingham, Worcestershire] “a smith’s shop hear the churchyard. Hulett, “drawing neare unto the sayd shop heard a great bustlinge and puffing and bloweinge” of a couple .. one of whom was Treble’s servant. John junior suggests the permeability of the space to sound by adding what Hulett heard next: ‘when the plaintiff had done what he could he asked her how shee liked it and [she] answeared ‘well yenoughe’.” [[Hardly a ringing endorsement!]]

p. 193 “small purchases of good form a kind of recreation – a series of what we would see as ‘snacks’ bought and consumed with friends… the majority of these purchases are of preserved fruit and confectionary: the most significant categories are figs and raisins, followed by comfits, cakes and marchpane… Cocks may well have bought these foods from street vendors, and the dried fruit from local grocers, whom we know he patronised for other goods, or purchased them from the inns whence the wine came. Their high sugar content suggests an expansion into leisure activities of the sweetness of middling meals.”

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