Tag Archives: Tudors
Apart from eating and drinking (and smoking), the Tudors were enthusiastic merrymakers: they liked to entertain and to be entertained. Henry VIII loved not only sport and food, but also music. He played several instruments, including bagpipes, recorders and flutes, and the virginals. His Chapel Royal included dozens of musicians, many of whom used to accompany him wherever he went. Church music was generally written to be sung unaccompanied, but Henry liked to have trombones to accompany the plainsong of the choir.
Thanks to decades of peace, English houses are no longer made for defence but for comfort. The newly rich may still build turrets, battlements and gatehouses but these are only for show or to make a new place look venerable, implying an ancient lineage for themselves. Many a country house still has a moat, though the fact that it seldom runs right around it should tell you that it is not to keep attackers at bay – or for you to water your horse in – but to keep fish for the kitchen.
Elizabethans witnessed many improvements in daily life. One of those is the stockings knitting machine invented in 1589 by William Lee, vicar of Calverton. The Victorian legend says he was madly in love with a young woman, but she was continually put him off because she was always knitting; so he designed and built a machine to do the knitting so that he could have her to himself. Another story is that he loved his wife dearly, and wanted to release her from the drudgery of knitting his socks.
Tudor England worked hard and played hard: “Sometimes their necks are broken, sometimes their backs, sometimes their legs, sometimes their arms” – not a description of some brutal medieval torture, but 16th century football. This sport was hugely popular, especially on occasions such as Shrove Tuesday and Ascension Day when entire villages played each other in ferocious all day encounters, the object being to capture a ball and bring it back to their own village.
A Tudor marriage was usually a carefully orchestrated affair, be it for monarch or commoner – a business arrangement to safeguard family fortunes, enhance wealth and property and advance social status. The bride was expected to provide an appropriately large dowry. Love matches and Romeo and Juliet scenarios were strictly for the stage.