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Lambley Historical Society
Food and Drink in Tudor and Stuart Nottinghamshire
At our September meeting, Mark Dawson took a look at what food and drink was being consumed by the ordinary folk of Nottinghamshire in the 16th and 17th centuries. His sources of information were diaries, contemporary accounts, recipe books, household accounts, archaeology, court and probate records.
Barley, wheat, rye, oats and pease were grown on farms which were used to make pottage. Bread was made from wheat or rye although most houses would not have an oven so bread would be bought. Beer was brewed from barley – either ale, which was brewed in smaller batches and didn’t last very long or beer, which was ale with hops added as a preservative. This started to be brewed in large quantities which was cheaper to produce so there was less domestic production.
Cows were a common form of livestock. Milk was used to make butter and cheese rather than being drunk. Beef was the most commonly eaten meat and animals were sold to a butcher for slaughter and distribution. Sheep and pigs were also reared, and poultry was kept for eggs. The wealthier families would also consume a variety of wild fowl.
Fast days, when it was illegal to sell or consume meat accounted for 40% of the year. Dairy products and fish, mainly dried and salted cod would be eaten on these days. Fresh sea fish would be expensive but fish from rivers could be obtained.
There was an increased consumption of vegetables in the 16th century. Onions were used for flavourings, but potatoes were not used until the 18th century. Plums cherries, apples and pears were all grown. There was an increase in imported sugar and spices in the 17th century.
Cookware was mainly made in brassware and iron and tableware in pewter, plate, wood and pottery.
So, all very different from our modern methods of cooking and shopping!
All Photos by Jean Powley
Know Your Birds of Prey
There are three resident birds of prey you are most likely to see from your garden here in Woodborough and there is one which may visit your garden.
They are the Common Buzzard, Red Kite, and Sparrowhawk. You are less likely to see a Kestrel in your garden as they tend to be seen hunting for voles in open fields or road verges. The Hobby which is usually found flying around farmland and areas of water is a summer visitor and by now will have left our shores for tropical Africa. The tiny Merlin is a bird of moorland and coast.
The Common Buzzard is often seen soaring in the thermals above our village and sometimes they may fly surprisingly low over our houses. Quite often, there are two or three if not more flying around together and you usually hear them before you see them. They are known to nest in Ploughman Wood and should you walk through the wood, they may be heard calling at times. In flight they have broad rounded wings and a short tail which is slightly fan-shaped. Their main source of food is rabbit but they will also eat small birds, rodents, large insects and earthworms. They are opportunist birds and will take carrion.
The Red Kite is much larger than the Common Buzzard and in our area they are becoming a more familiar sight. In Elizabethan times the Red Kite was very common and was often seen searching for scraps in the litter strewn streets of London and possibly elsewhere. Those seen around our area have probably spread from Rockingham Forest in Northant’s where there is a stronghold of them. Like the Buzzard, this bird eats carrion. I’ve seen them settle on parking areas by the A1 for roadkill and searching for food on landfall tips near Peterborough. If you see a large bird of prey in the sky, check out the tail which is the distinguishing feature of this bird. Unlike the Buzzard the tail of the Red Kite is forked.
The Sparrowhawk is the bird you are most likely to see in your garden. Many of you may have seen one sitting on your garden fence or you may have seen one quickly fly in and grab a bird and fly off with it. Opinion is often divided over this bird and it isn’t always welcome. Its main source of food is small birds, although a female who is larger than the male will take a bird as big as a pigeon. It uses the element of surprise to catch its prey and will often recklessly chase a small bird, sometimes crashing in to a window as a result. The male of the species is a bird and has bluish-grey upperparts and orange barred underparts. Females and juveniles are a mottled brown. It is said that you have a healthy bird population if Sparrowhawks are in your area and there is currently no evidence they have an impact on small bird numbers.
Look out for these three birds as you walk around the village or potter around the garden.
Jean is a voluntary Ambassador for the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden BirdWatch scheme in Nottinghamshire. If you enjoy watching birds and other wildlife which visit your garden, Garden BirdWatch may be perfect for you. If you would like a free information pack about the scheme, contact Jean at email@example.com or visit www.bto.org/gbw