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January 2014 meeting

The Tudor Maydes: The Whys and Wherefores of Everyday Tudor Life!

Gilly and Hope, “The Tudor Maydes,” arrived at our January meeting in Tudor costume and proceeded to enchant and amuse us for the rest of the evening. They spoke and sang in the way they would have spoken in Tudor times and encouraged us to do the same, including getting us all to sing a simple round.

They talked about their day to day life and the things they used. They discussed and showed us how their houses were heated and lit and the advantages of having a hearth with a chimney on the wall instead of a central hearth, which made the dwelling very dirty, smelly and smoky. They talked about and showed us the different grades and smells of candles and lanterns that were used and how to use a tinder box.

Herbs and spices were used widely to alleviate “foul stinks,” from the simple Tussy Mussy ( a bunch of seasonal herbs tied together) to the very expensive portingale (orange and cloves from the Far East). Foul smells were thought to be the cause of sickness, so it was important to protect oneself from ill health by keeping these herbs and spices close to their noses. This is well demonstrated by the “plague doctor’s” headgear with the massive beak, which was filled with herbs.

They went on to talk about some of their herbal remedies and these are just a few of the more peculiar ones:

  • It was thought that toothache was caused by the tooth worm and that it could be cured by chewing a clove. The toothworm would wind itself around the stem of the clove and be eliminated when the clove was spat out.

  • Garlic was used to remove the bad humours from cuts and snail slime was used for burns.

  • To restore hair growth, ashes of southernwood were used or warm cowpats were allowed to dry on the head! Mandrake root, which apparently does not scream when pulled, was used to improve virility.



Programme 2013 -14
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