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Displaying items by tag: Life in the 1500s
Monday, 19 September 2011 12:06

Life in the 1500s

We are all being affected by the current global financial crisis. However, life is still much easier now than in the 1500s. Domestic life then was a lot more challenging and demanding. Before we yearn for times past, it may be prudent to read about life in the 1500s.

• Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to reduce body odour that had started to set in, hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

• Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. From this comes the saying, don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

• Houses had thatched roofs, thick straw piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof, resulting in the saying - It's raining cats and dogs.

• There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up clean beds. A bed with large posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

• The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance way. Hence the name 'a thresh hold'.

• In the 1500s, families cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and little meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been in there for some time. This was the origin of the rhyme, 'peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old....'

• Occasionally a family might obtain some pork. This was such a rare treat that when visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show it off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could bring home the bacon. They would cut off a little to share with guests and sit around and 'chew the fat.'

• Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach into the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

• Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the upper crust.

• Lead cups were used to drink ale of whisky . The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of holding a wake.

Steeped in History

In 1810, the Peugeot brothers converted a mill inherited from their miller ancestors into a steel mill. Since then, rolled steel has been at the heart of Peugeot's activities. Saw blades and tools led to a wide and various range of manufactured products - from crinolines, to sewing machines, sheep-shears to penny-farthing bicycles and finally, to cars. In 1840, the Peugeot coffee mill entered the kitchen and opened the way for the pepper mill in 1874. Since then, many spices have felt the Peugeot lion's claws.


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