Tuesday, 24 May 2005

Tudor Table Manners

If you sat at a dinner or banquet in Tudor times you would not find a familiar setting. For one thing, you had to bring your own cutlery as this was never provided, even in the richest of households or at Court. Spoons in particular were highly prized items, often silver or gold and considered essential. They were a popular christening gifts, thus we now have the expression "born with a silver spooon in his mouth". The more expensive the spoon the higher up in society you were, therefore it became a status symbol as well.

At the dinner table you would not have had a plate for youself but you would be sharing with up to 4 people from a large dinner plate. The head of the table of course, would only share with one other as he or she (in the case of Queen Elizabeth) were the privilidged ones.
As you were sharing with others you were expected to maintain a certain standard of behaviour. For example, you were not allowed to put your bones or discarded food back in the dinner plate (which makes a lot of sense, considering that you were sharing) but were given a separate dish called a "voider" in which you would place such items. You were also given a linen napkin on which to wipe your hands and mouth, because guess what, your cup was shared with the person seated next to you, so the last thing you would want was to grab hold of a greasy cup or drink out of it while traces of food were on the rim of the cup. (Personally I find this whole sharing of business disgusting...).

2 comments:

John Doom said...

Bring your own flatware AND share foodstuffs with people around you, even your drink?
I can only imagine, "I'll have a shot of bourbon... make it big, I've got to share it."

I don't think I would have been one to party so often.

Alterior said...

Heh heh, wait til you find out that the cup wasn't always on the table and when you felt like a drink from it you had to ask one of teh servants to bring it to you. The servant waited next to you while you drank from it and as soon as you finished drinking they ould take it away again until you asked for it again...
They supposedly did that to discourage drinking...