It’s Tudor Week on the Great British Bake Off tonight! Who will lose their head, and who will rise to the occasion?
To mark the event, I wanted to celebrate some of the varied and more unusual delicacies which would have been eaten and enjoyed in the 16th century by Henry VIII, Elizabeth I and the rest of the royal court. In order to do this, I have delved into our vast collection of administrative and royal documents, to find examples of Tudor food and feasting which might inspire tonight’s bakers.
For their signature bake, the contestants will present Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood with their own take on a Tudor pie. Pies and pasties were a popular food product in medieval and Tudor times, and they feature frequently in some of the private correspondence held in our collection. Pies provided a convenient way to preserve meat for a short period of time, and were relatively durable, with a thick crust. They were also handy as a type of self-contained fast food (not requiring the use of a plate) and were filled with a wide variety of fillings including partridge, venison, cod, carp and lampreys (as seen in the entry below).
Pies, pasties and other rich foods were often given as gifts amongst the Tudor elite. The Lisle Papers are a rich source of information about Tudor Life. 1 They are stuffed full of references to pies and other gifts of food. Continue reading »
- 1. These papers contain the correspondence of Arthur Plantagenet, 1st Viscount Lisle (c.1480-1532), an illegitimate son of Edward IV (and thus Henry VIII’s uncle), and of his wife, Honor Plantagenet. ^