Pottage, cucumber pickled in verjuice, salted fish and marchpane flowers will all feature on the ‘menu’ for the 2019 season at Little Moreton Hall.
Tudor ‘gentlewomen’ at the stunning timber-framed mansion near Congleton will describe what was on the table when the Moreton family, their friends and servants sat down to eat in the sixteenth century.
At various times during the year, you will be able to sample items such as those Tudor pickles, gingerbread and beerbread; all made according to recipes which have survived. You can have a go at making butter and discover how cheese and other foods were prepared. These products were the staples of a diet which the Tudors believed kept them healthy in body and mind.
Anna Massey, from the Hall, said, ‘Food is fascinating. People are always asking us how different it was in Tudor times.’
You will be able to investigate the basics: Pottage was a cheap stew made with grain and vegetables and eaten by servants and farm workers. Wealthier people added some meat, but that was turning it into a luxury dish.
You can follow the trends: Verjuice, which adds some really sharp acidity to meat and vegetables, is becoming fashionable again today. Now, it is made from pressed grapes, but the Tudors were more likely to use pressed crab apples.
Little Moreton Hall ⓒ Alan Ingram National Trust
Beer was different too,because it was made without hops. Beer was very important. It was the everyday drink for everyone – including the children- because water was not always clean enough to be safe. Again, beer was definitely on the prescription for a healthy life.
Brewing was a job for the women of the house, alongside butter and cheese-making. Anna said, ‘If you have never tried using a wooden or earthenware churn and a wooden plunger to make butter, you will find it a bit of a challenge. Queen Elizabeth was not the only tough lady in Tudor times!’
She added, ‘Discovering about foods appeals to people of all ages. We’re sure our young visitors will have just as much fun as their parents and grandparents investigating it and, because food is closely linked to health, we will also look at other Tudor ideas on healthy living, including the herbs and flowers they used in ‘remedies’ for all types of ailments.
‘You may also like to join one of our very popular free guided tours to learn about the history of this wonderful old house and the family who built it, or just explore this magnificent and extremely wonky building for yourself.’
The 2019 season at Little Moreton Hall begins a few weeks later than in previous years. During the winter the National Trust has completely re-wired the Hall, at a cost of more than £200,000.
The work involved laying 9000 metres of cable and included installation of a state-of-the-art fire alarm and security system. The project will help to secure the future of this very special 500 years old building.
Little Moreton Hall opens for the 2019 season on Saturday 30 March and is then open Wed-Sun, 11am – 5pm.
For more information visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/littlemoretonhallor call 01260 272018.