Eating and Drinking
udor London had many inns, taverns and alehouses where people could buy wine, beer and food. Inns and taverns were more expensive whereas alehouses could be as small as a room in someone's home. Drinks were served using metal, pottery or leather jugs. Many poor Londoners lived in cramped accommodation without any cooking facilities so they relied on cookshops for food. These were the Tudor equivalent of a modern fast food takeaway shop and sold things like roast meats and pies. Cookshops were popular but there were many complaints about poor quality food and bad hygiene.
Find out how rich and poor Tudor Londoners served drinks
Ceramic jug used for serving drinks, 16th century
Find out why leather was used to make jugs
Find out how leather jugs were made
Leather jug for serving drinks, 16th - 17th century
Find out how whistles were used to catch birds for eating
Ceramic whistle in the shape of a bird, used to catch birds for eating, 16th century
ome cooking was generally done over an open fire. Meat could be stewed in a cauldron or cooking pot or roasted in front of the fire on a spit with a dripping dish underneath to catch the fat. Most people did not eat meat every day as it was expensive. Common daily foods were bread and pottage (a porridge-like stew made with vegetables and oats or barley).
If you were invited to another person's home for a meal, you would be expected to bring your own cutlery – a knife and a spoon (forks were not generally used in England until the 17th century). People ate with their fingers a lot – they speared and cut food with their pointed knife but put the food in their mouths with their fingers, unless it was runny and then they used their spoon.
Find out how a Tudor saucepan works
Ceramic pipkin (a type of saucepan), used for cooking food over a fire, early 17th century
Find out how dripping dishes were used to catch the fat from roasting meat
Ceramic dripping dish used for catching the fat from roasting meat, late 16th - 17th century
See a wooden bowl, which was used for eating from
Wooden bowl with painted decoration, 16th century
See a Tudor table knife with gold decoration
Iron table knife with gold decoration, late 16th century
Find out what you can learn about Tudor life from three spoons
Pewter spoon which has been marked by its owner to show who it belongs to, early 16th century
Pewter spoon with decorated handle, late 16th century
Pewter spoon which is worn on one side and has bite marks, showing its owner was right-handed
Eating and drinking at
Hampton Court Palace
he kitchens at Hampton Court Palace were the largest in the country in Tudor times. When the king or queen stayed at the palace the kitchen staff had to provide meals for around 800 people twice a day (at midday and 4pm). This included meals for the 200 kitchen workers. The royal family had their own 'privy' (private) kitchen with separate staff to cook their meals at whatever timetable the monarch wanted.
The kitchens had many rooms where different types of food were stored or made – meat, fish, spices, pies, bread and sweet dishes. The Great Kitchen was at the centre. Here meat was roasted on spits in front of huge fires. The royal court ate a huge quantity of meat. In Queen Elizabeth I's reign 8,200 sheep, 2,330 deer and 1,870 pigs were cooked in the royal kitchens in one year.
Not all who stayed at Hampton Court Palace were provided with food. Those who were given meals were on a special list called the 'bouche of Court' – this said what
and where people could eat. The closer you ate to the monarch's private rooms, the more important you were at court. Palace guards and servants would eat in the Great Hall, away from the royal family. Higher-ranking courtiers would eat in the Great Watching Chamber.