On 3 May, we enjoyed a very humorous talk by Simon Partridge, entitled “At Home with the Tudors”. He pointed out that the Tudor period ran from 1485 to 1603, and in that period most people were either very wealthy or very poor. The very wealthy had large houses but small windows as glass was so expensive and when they decided to move house (which was not often) they would take their windows with them! Poor people would eat mainly vegetables, with perhaps an occasional purloined rabbit, whereas the rich had a very meaty diet, in which vegetables hardly figured. Beer was drunk, not water, and from silver or pewter vessels (for the rich) or vessels made from horn (for the poor).
Simon described to us some of the Tudors’ furniture, including beds. Apparently, the saying “Good night, sleep tight” comes from the stretching of ropes beneath the mattresses, to give them secure support. Four-poster beds were surrounded by drapes, for warmth, and had canopies for protection from bat droppings. Some matters of personal hygiene were humorously described but are perhaps best left out of this account! Simon also described how houses tended to be be built with oak; Norfolk used to be very wooded, far more than nowadays, since oak from south Norfolk and north Suffolk was used for the navy.