Manners at Table – The Etiquette of Eating in the Seventeenth Century
An account of hospitality in 1620 gives a good idea of the manner in which a country gentleman of the period lived. Dinner and supper were brought in by the servants with their hats on, a custom which is corroborated by Fynes Moryson, who says that, being at a knight’s house, who had many servants to attend him, they brought in the meats with their heads covered with blue caps. After washing their hands in a basin they sat down to dinner, and Sir James Pringle said grace. The viands seemed to have been plentiful and excellent— “big pottage, long kale, bowe of white kale,” which is cabbage; “brach soppe,” powdered beef, roast and boiled mutton, a venison pie in form of an egg, goose.
Then they had cheese, cut and uncut, and apples. But the close of the feast was the most curious thing about it. The tablecloth was removed, and on the table were put a “towel the whole breadth of the table and half the length of it, a basin and ewer to wash, then a green carpet laid on, then one cup of beer set on the carpet, then a little long lawn serviter plaited over the corner of the table and a glass of hot water set down also on the table; then be there three boys to say grace—the first, the thanksgiving; the second, the Pater Noster; the third, prayer for a blessing of God’s church. The good man of the house, his parents, kinfolk and the whole company then do drink hot waters, so at supper, then to bed, the collation which (is) a stoupe of all.”— Scottish Review, 1907
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