In 1967, Janet and I moved to Doddinghurst in Essex. I got interested in the surroundings and I found a book in the Brentwood Library which was all about Ingatestone Hall. The Hall was only a couple of miles away from our house which made it all the more interesting.
It was built in the early sixteenth century by William Petre. The house remains and the family remains until this day.
The book dealt with, among other things, the kitchen records of the house. This was quite a revelation.
In Tudor times, there was a sizeable family, supported by a large number of servants and an even larger number of farm workers and their families living on the Estate.
They kept cattle, sheep and poultry. Fish was purchased from the area of Barking Creek. Vegetables were grown on the property.
What was interesting to me was the distribution of food.
The family would have had a substantial breakfast, from around 11am, dinner would be served while supper would be provided between 5 and 6 in the afternoon. At all these meals, fresh meat would be available. The Elizabethans were very fond of meat and would have Roast beef, veal and mutton. Venison would be provided on special occasions. Sometimes, there would be several different meats on offer at the same time.
The day after the fresh meat was on the table, the left-overs would be made available to the servants within the house and then to the farming families outside the house. The original meat dishes would have been large pieces of Beef or Mutton so that there would have been plenty to go round. Everyone was well fed at Ingatestone Hall.
In addition, William Petre, later Sir William, provided the staff with summer and winter clothing as well as shoes. Sir William’s son John was created 1st Baron Petre of Writtle in 1603.
Next chapter: Chapter 51: Raie au Beurre Noir and Sancerre