Monday, 23 December 2013

Worcester Cathedral Christmas Services and Concerts in the 1920's and 1930's

At sometime over Christmas many people will visit their local church for a service. But what were the Christmas services of the past like? In the cathedral’s archives are scattered notes of the Christmas services held in the Cathedral in the 1920's and 1930's which offer some interesting reports from a broken musical instrument, the first performance of an Elgar carol, and charitable gifts and concerts.

The cover of the 1920 Carol Service for Worcester Cathedral. Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

What sort of music and carols were sung?

There are two copies of a carol service that was often used between 1920 and at least 1931. Some of the carols sung may be unfamiliar to you.  A processional hymn Christe Redemptor Omnium, the words of which were written in the sixth century and the melody composed in the eleventh were sung first, followed by the bidding prayer and the hymn O Come all ye Faithful. The carol From Jesse’s stock up-springing followed, which is an ancient melody arranged by M. Praetorius (1571-1621), and the carol In Dulci Jubilo arranged by R. L. De Pearsall (1795-1856), followed by A Carol for Christmas Day from William Byrd’s Song of Sundry Natures dating to 1589.

The Cathedral choir then sang In the bleak Mid Winter by Gustav Holst, words by Christina Rossetti, and then everyone sang The First Noel the angel did say, followed by a 15th century carol from the Processional of the Nuns of Chester - Qui creavit coelum, and then three carols: The Babe in Bethlehem’s manger laid, and Three Kings have come from the eastern land, and A babe is born of maiden pure, with the recessional hymn being While shepherds watch’d their flocks by night.

The 1934 Worcester Cathedral programme for its Christmas Nativity play. Image copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

Notable events in the Christmas services

In 1921 the cathedral’s new organ broke down at Evensong on Christmas Eve, whilst the Bishop of Worcester and the Countess of Beauchamp were attending. Thankfully, the services continued smoothly without it.

In 1928, the Cathedral’s Christmas time music was interesting for two reasons. Between 16th and 23rd December the Advent Antiphons, copied down in the Worcester Antiphoner were sung again in the cathedral. The Antiphoner dates to c.1230 but the music is from an earlier time. Boxing Day 1928 also saw the first performance in Worcester of Sir Edward Elgar’s Christmas carol I sing the birth. On Boxing Day 1930 Sir Edward was present in the Cathedral to hear another performance of his carol.

In Christmas 1931 a special music concert organized by Sir Ivor Atkins was held in College Hall to raise money for the building of an extension onto the Worcester Royal Infirmary. At that time, Christmas fundraising concerts were unusual at Worcester Cathedral, and had only happened on two other occasions- once in 1923 to raise funds for the organ and another in 1917 to help the Red Cross Depots in Worcester.

In January 1934, for the first time since the monastic era, a nativity play was performed in the cathedral entitled The Christmas Mystery. This included carols, readings from the Gospels, and tableaux of ‘actors’ in elaborate costumes.

Dean William Moore Ede who urged the congregation to donate to help German refugees. Photograph Copyright the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

Collections for Charity and Good Causes

The collection on Christmas Day in the Cathedral in 1920 was for the Save the Children Fund, and in 1931 it was for the St. Lawrence’s home (Church of England’s Waifs and Strays Society). In December 1933 or 1st January 1934 the Dean William Moore Ede made an urgent appeal to the congregation for a collection to help refugees who had escaped to England from Germany.

Have a very Happy Christmas from everyone at Worcester Cathedral Library and archive.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

A sheepskin manuscript with mysterious, missing artwork

Worcester Cathedral library MS F.9 is a fourteenth century manuscript of Flavius Josephus’ The Jewish War and the Antiquities of the Jews, which is thought to have been professionally made by a team of lay scribes and artists, though the exact location of production is unknown. Unlike many of our manuscripts, the monks of the Cathedral priory had no physical role in the production of F9, and we can provide no evidence for the priory owning the manuscript before the seventeenth century. As to how this MS came to the Cathedral is a mystery. Upon displaying it to visitors this summer we found it was a rather curious manuscript indeed, with a lot of scribal quirks and artistic oddities (such as the one pictured below). This week I explore what makes F9 an unusual item that stands out from the rest of our collection.

F9. A detail from the top line of a page,
the scribe has drawn a small profile head with
a large pointed nose. Photograph
© the Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
The first unusual point about MS F9 is that it is made from 324 leaves of thick sheep skin, rather than vellum (calf skin). This is uncommon for manuscripts of this date. Vellum was the usual choice of skin after the ninth-century, though the Saxons did reserve sheepskin for some special liturgical texts (for example the Echternach Gospels). Sheepskin is greasier than vellum and can often be more translucent, making painting directly onto it more difficult. F9 evidences some of the problems associated with using sheepskin for manuscripts. The hair side of sheepskin parchment yellows overtime and F9 has certain leaves which are severely yellowed.

This manuscript of The Jewish War has an unusually large number of (probably contemporary) repairs also; every few folios you will find a hole which has been sewn or repaired by pasting another bit of parchment on top. There are more holes found in F9 than you would normally find with a vellum manuscript, because the layers of sheepskin are fattier, therefore more prone to separating and allowing holes to develop. Even in cases where small holes are stitched up, it is not uncommon that the hole continues to grow and eventually bursts open the repair.

Yet by far the most puzzling thing about F9 is to be found on folio 229 (see pic below), where we can see that the artist has drawn out the border and square of an illuminated letter but left the space blank. A similar blank space for a decorated initial with a border is left on folio 230.  Illumination is generally accepted as the last stage in manuscript production. Only once the scribe or scribes have written the text block will the quires of parchment be passed on to an artist or a team of artists for decorating. Could it be that the artist simply forgot these pages? Did they make a mistake? Was the illuminated letter stolen from the manuscript at a later date?

© the Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
We will never definitively know the answer as to why these two folios remain undecorated. It cannot be because they were considered unimportant, for within the manuscript folio 229 marks the beginning of the prologue by Josephus and folio 230 signals the beginning of the main text of The Jewish War. I also think it’s unlikely that these pages were forgotten, for the artist took the time to draw the title of the section at the top of the page in alternating blue and red. Moreover, the scribes or the artists have continued throughout the book to extend the descenders of letters on the last line of each page and embellish them artistically either with grotesques or frilled designs.
Looking at the manuscript, I’d like to suggest that there is evidence that these two illuminated letters with part borders were done, or at least designed, on a separate piece of parchment which was intended to be pasted onto the main body of the manuscript at the end. This was not an uncommon practice for illustrators working on sheepskin. As early as the ninth-century, according to Bischoff, miniatures were being painted onto separate pieces of calfskin and pasted onto folios of sheepskin, because the rough surface of calfskin proved better suited for coloured painting.[1]

 Looking through F9, you can see instances where the translucency of the sheepskin causes coloured inks to bleed from the verso to the recto, which must surely have been a source of frustration for the artists! Below is a picture of a completed illuminated initial in blue from f. 279. You can see that the sheepskin has been difficult to paint onto, and when the book has been closed, blue ink has bled onto the opposite page as the greasy nature of sheep skin means it struggles to absorb paint. It seems likely that these sizeable spaces have been left, then, with intention of pasting completed artwork onto them so as to avoid the inks running through to the underside of the page or blotting onto the other. If you run your finger over folio 229 (pictured above), the border is definitely raised suggesting that the outline in blue may be pasted down.
F9. an illuminated letter with border, looking to the opposite page there is blue ink which has been transferred. Photograph
© the Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
Perhaps the ultimate question with F9 is not 'why are these two folios missing decoration' but 'why did the stationer or workshop in which the manuscript was made opt for sheep skin in the first place, when it was known to be of lesser quality'? It could be that calf skins were in short supply at that time in the region where the manuscript was made, but we have no way of knowing this because no information or research has been done to shed light on where this manuscript was produced. Though we currently know little about the context of the production of this manuscript, F9 nonetheless provides a useful contrast to the rest of Worcester Cathedral Library's manuscript collection, the majority of which is done on vellum. It also evidences how making manuscripts, even in a professional context, could still have many challenges in the later middle ages and suggests that artists and scribes had to come up with inventive solutions to circumvent the challenges of working on sheepskin.

[1] Bischoff, Latin Palaeography trans. Daibhi O Croinin and David Ganz (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990), p. 10.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Surgery and Medical Treatment by a Royalist Surgeon at the Battle of Worcester 1651

In 1676 Serjeant-Chirurgeon Richard Wiseman published his Severall Chirurgicall Treatises. Richard Wiseman was a surgeon who served in the Royalist army during the English Civil War, then as a Navy surgeon, and after the Restoration, acted as one of Charles II’s surgeons. His book covers such topics as a treatise on tumours, a treatise on ulcers, haemorrhoids, the King’s Evill, a treatise on wounds, gun-shot wounds, fractures, and venereal disease. In this week blog we look at just a few of the cases which he encountered.

The battle of Worcester 1651. Photograph by David Morrison. Reproduced by permission of the Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

Just before the Battle of Worcester, Wiseman was treating soldiers wounded in skirmishes. One man had a musket ball lodged on the right side of his head. Wiseman’s servant assistant William Clarke, whilst dressing the wound, felt the musket ball in the skull. He called over Wiseman who noticed the man could not speak. They made a circular incision, allowing the trapped blood to escape. Having cleaned the wound with a sponge dipped in vinegar they filled the gap with lint. When the bleeding had stopped some time later, they tried unsuccessfully to get the bullet out. Using an instrument called a Trepan; they cut away another hole nearby, which again released more trapped blood. This enabled them to pull out the bullet and the depressed bone fragments. They now saw that there was a large wound in the Dura Mater (one of the outer layers surrounding the brain). Nevertheless they dressed the wounds in the skull and bandaged the head. Whilst they did this, the man suddenly regained consciousness, and asked where he was. He survived the operation, but after the chaos of the ensuing battle Wiseman never saw him again.    

An eighteenth century depiction of the battle of Worcester 1651. Photograph by David Morrison. Reproduced by permission of the Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

During the battle, a royalist garrison held Fort-Royal just outside the city. The next case is of a soldier in the fort, who during the fighting was using his bonnet to carry a fresh supply of gunpowder to his fellows on the ramparts. He was just refilling his bandoliers (ammunition pouches to hold the powder), when a fellow soldier fired his musket too close to him. A spark from the musket ignited the powder and both men were horribly burned. Wiseman and his assistants dressed the wounds as best they could, covering the burns with some sort of oil and egg white mixture. William Clark, managed to cure the first soldier, and the latter was bandaged enough to allow him to escape the city.

In a case of a musket ball entering a soldier through one side of his chest, which passed out between two ribs on the other side of his body, they cleaned the wounds, and kept the hole between the ribs open to allow discharge of any matter. The wound was later cleaned, and the patient attended to after the battle by Wiseman’s assistant William Clarke, who later lived in Bridgenorth. The soldier was concealed in the city until he could make his escape.

Richard Wiseman's book on surgery. Photograph by David Morrison. Reproduced by permission of the Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

During the battle, a soldier came to where Surgeon Wiseman was working. The soldier was still clutching his broken sword and was covered in wounds, particularly around the head. Wiseman saw that the hairy scalp of one side of his head was hanging down his neck, and calling over his colleague William Clarke, they cleaned the wound with a sponge. They noticed many fissures, and some fractures on the head caused by various weapons. They freed the scalp of some bone fragments, and dressed the wound, applying liniment. At this point the Parliamentarians broke into Worcester. Wiseman decided it was time to leave in the middle of treating the soldier. However his young assistant and servant William Clarke remained and carried on treating the wounded even after the fighting was over. He later wrote to Wiseman and told him about the case. Three days after treating him, the soldier seemed in good spirits, but the head wounds were causing discomfort, and Clarke loosened two of the stitches to vent the wounds. He dressed penetrating wounds, and discarded damaged bone fragments. The soldier eventually recovered, traveled to the Indies and then served in the Tower of London.

A 1616 book on anatomy Wiseman might have seen. Photograph by David Morrison. Reproduced by permossion of the Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

Meanwhile, Captain Smith, leading a Company of Dragoons, was pursuing Wiseman and the defeated Royalist soldiers as they fled from the battle.  In the ensuing skirmish Smith was wounded across the right Temporal Muscle (on the side of the head) and was bleeding to death. He was brought to surgeon Wiseman’s quarters. Wiseman stitched his wound and, lacking enough medicines, dressed it with a little wheat-flower and the white of an egg, applying over it a compress which he described as being pressed out of vinegar, and secured with a bandage. Three days later Wiseman took off the bandages and found the wound to be healing. By this time, he had managed to get medical supplies from an Apothecary and sprinkled the lips of the wound with these. Two days afterwards he cut the stitches and applied “epuloticks” and after a couple more sets of fresh dressings the man recovered.

David Morrison

Monday, 18 November 2013

John Calvin's Preface to the Institution of the Christian religion.

How did a book intended for sixteenth century Spanish humanists and Spanish reformers end up in Worcester? Still in its original binding, it is still uncertain who purchased it, or donated it here. 

John Calvin's Insitution of the Christian Religion in Spanish. Photograph by David Morrison by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester (U.K.).

The Cathedral library has a copy of the second edition of John Calvin’s book entitled Institution of the Christian religion, comprising of four parts, each divided into chapters. It was published in 1597 by Ricardo del Campo after being translated into Spanish or the “Castilian tongue” by Cypriano de Valera.

Woodcut of John Calvin, from . Reproduced by the permission of the Dean and Chapter
of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
Calvin prefaced his book with two introductions addressed to “All the faithful of the Spanish nation” who desire the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom”. He was in a buoyant mood because his first book had been warmly received in other European countries and he was very optimistic of its success in Spain also. In the second, shorter introduction he is full of thanks to Almighty God for looking favourably on his first book and he believes that he is duly bound to serve Him and all converts to his new doctrine to bring more and more people to Christ with his new improved volume into which he has poured his “meagre god given talents”. He stresses how hard he has worked in God’s service, to the extent that he became seriously ill and almost died from quartan fever one winter, but did not rest until he had got his book into its desired shape. Now, whatever happens to its author, it will stand as testament to the power of God and the rightness of the teaching based on the close study of the text of the Bible and the strict observance in everyday life of its laws. 

He sets out his work as a lawyer might, illustrating his arguments with detailed references from the Old Testaments and the gospels, writing with fervour and convinced that his Protestant ideas on the Reform of the Christian church are the only valid ones; that he is a warrior of Christ combatting the corrupt practices of the Catholic Church with his teaching and preaching.

Calvin saw the Roman Catholic Church as in the power of Satan, and took every opportunity to condemn its way of worshipping Christ. In his Preface he mentioned the Diet of Augsburg, one of the conferences organized by the Catholic Church to promote the Counter Reformation and heaped scorn on the “lies” they published about him. His duty was, with God’s grace, “to so prepare and instruct those who wish to study theology that they might easily learn Holy Scripture, have a clear understanding of what they might read and walk a straight path from which they never depart.” The end of the shorter preface stresses that the book deals so fully and clearly with all matters of religion that every reader who perseveres will be given a very useful tool with which to live a godly life and refute the statements of “the Enemny”. Calvin wanted no praise for his achievement but to be remembered before God by those who found spiritual benefit in the pages of the book.
Like other reformers, Calvin was a product of ideas stemming from the Renaissance. Scholars prized the Greek and Roman civilizations and in their intensive study of Green and Latin discovered new ways of looking at the language and meaning of the Bible in its original tongues, and the enigma of human existence. Such men were called “humanists”. Unfortunately the different ways they interpreted what they found set in motion religious divisions which remain to this day.

Erasmus from a Worcester Cathedral Library book. Photograph by David Morrison, by permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

In Spain humanism began to take root in the very early sixteenth century, when Erasmus’ writings began to be read in Spain. Spanish universities began to study and discuss the new religious ideas. The Catholic Church, however, was quick to imprison even moderate thinkers like Luis de León whose statue stands facing the old university building of Salamanca today. By the time Erasmus died in 1536, the Inquisition had pounced upon any attempt at reform and religious humanism was sent underground, though in the plastic arts and in literature the study of Renaissance ideas brought about what is called in Spain “El Siglo de oro” (“The Golden Age”), which spanned two centuries and produced world class artists and authors, reflecting the influence and splendour of the Catholic Church.

Betty Eggby

Friday, 1 November 2013

A Medieval and an Elizabethan Maths Book

Love it or loathe it maths is a useful skill. This week I thought I’d seek out what the Cathedral library has in terms of historic maths books and found two gems. The first treasure is Anianus’ Computus cum commento (Computus with commentary), a late fifteenth-century arithmetic manual with instructions and demonstrative woodcuts. This short guide was printed in Paris by Guy Marchant in 1497, and the Worcester Cathedral library copy is the only one surviving in the UK.

Anianus, the author of the commentary, is a figure whom we know little about, but some believe he was a French Benedictine monk. He wrote his computus guide at the end of the fourteenth-century and numerous manuscript copies survive. It was so popular in the century that followed that the commentary was printed in Paris, Rouen, Lyon and Basel. The title page of Marchant’s 1497 edition opens with this splendid woodcut:
Photograph, Compotus cum commento. Reproduced by the permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

This is just one of six woodcuts which link books to Marchant’s workshop. It depicts two shoe makers working and includes a central shield containing two hands holding open a book. At the top you can see an abbreviated form of his motto “Sola fides suficit” ,“faith alone suffices”.

Computus, for those wondering, was the major form of mathematical learning in the middle Ages. Put simply, it is the mathematical working out of the dates of Lent and Easter for any given year. In Western Christianity, Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. Once this date has been calculated, the rest of the church’s moveable festivals and celebrations can be worked out in relation to this date. Historians of mathematics have stressed the overwhelming complexity of early computus manuals. Anianus’ compoutus manual was likely popular because it followed a much simpler format than others on the subject, such as those written by Bede and Arnold of Villanova. The commentary is written in prose, and explains how to use the hand as a mnemonic device on which to calculate. Here are some of the woodcuts from Marchant’s edition showing how to use the left hand:

Photograph, Compotus cum commento. Reproduced by the permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

Fast forward around a hundred and fifty years and we find the second of the Cathedral library’s interesting maths books: A geometrical treatise named pantometria. This Elizabethan geometry book, written by Thomas Digges c. 1570 presents an array of technologies and tools developed in the Elizabethan era for the study of mathematics and topographical work. Pictured below is one such tool, called a Theodelitus, which is described as a “circle divided into 360 grades”, the diameter of which was 2 feet, meaning that the sizeable instrument had to be held down by some type of clamp.
                               Reproduced by the permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

The tool is thought to have been invented by Digges’ father, Leonard. Leonard Digges’ died when his son was aged thirteen and left a partially completed manuscript copy of Pantometria to his son. Thomas Digges completed his father's work. As a child Thomas Digges became a ward of the renowned Elizabethan astronomer and mathematician, John Dee, who you can find out about by clicking here.
What’s most interesting about Pantometria is the consistent application of geometry to solving military problems and war-related scenarios. Though composed centuries apart, Pantometria is reminiscent of the military-style textbooks produced for young school children in Nazi Germany, which superimpose basic maths problems with militaristic images. If you look at the woodcut below you can see how one problem is put in the context of an observer trying to estimate how far two rather threatening looking, incoming ships are away.
Reproduced by the permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

The woodcuts on folio 30 and 32 take on an even more militaristic framework, as you can see two warring parties firing canons at one another.

Photograph reproduced by the permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
We might read this textbook, therefore, as more than simply an instructive manual, it’s constant references to spying, even in the more innocent peeping Tom scenario, conjures to mind the network of spies at home and abroad employed by Queen Elizabeth I during her reign. Many of the geometry problems, particularly in the first part of the book, are aimed at either seeing things you are usually unable to see, or visually penetrating fortified areas. There is even this excellent woodcut of a man using the reflection of a pond to spy on  his wife situated several stories above.

Photograph reproduced by the permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

More broadly, the consistent references to sea faring and sea voyages mean the book is clearly a product of the age of exploration. This maths book then, might also be a useful source for military historians or Elizabethan enthusiasts as it clearly reflects national concerns in this period.

Monday, 14 October 2013

The coronation feast of James II and Queen Mary

One of the many printed books contained in the Cathedral library is a lavishly illustrated account of the coronation of James II and Queen Mary, which took place on Tuesday 23rd April, 1685.

This book was commissioned to commemorate James II's coronation and was given to his Majesty as a gift upon his visit to Worcester in 1687. It is a very detailed account of the preparations for the occasion; a description of the clothing, robes, crowns and sceptres, personnel, seating arrangements and menus for the day. As this is a very precise (and lengthy) account of the ceremony, I have chosen to discuss the coronation feast and menu, which visitors to the library often express interest in.

Below is an exquisite engraving depicting the feast in Westminster Hall, in which you can see the Lords and Ladies tucking into an array of foods, as well as the servers located at the sides of the halls.
James II's coronation feast (1685). Photograph reproduced by the permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.).
Their Majesties table alone is described as containing "99 dishes of the most excellent and choicest of all sorts of cold meats, both flesh and fish, excellently well dressed and ordered all manner of ways, [...] brought up by the gentlemen who served at their majesties cupboards." The engraving certainly conveys the author's point that there was "little vacancy between the dishes, which were set upon stands of several heights, and all so equally mixed, that it made an extraordinary good appearance”. At feasts or banquets today, a table is rarely as fully laden with dishes as we see here. This coronation feast makes Christmas dinner look like a light snack!
Another engraving, pictured below, depicts the table layout of the 145 dishes served at the table of King James and Queen Mary. The King's table was located at the upper end of Westminster Hall.You can see that each dish has a small number on it. Below is a list of the dishes to which each number corresponds. Besides these 145 dishes, there were 30 more served up to their Majesties table at the second course, making 175 dishes in all…!!! 

We'd love it if you could pick your favourite item and tell us which dish, if you could, you would order as part of your coronation dinner.

Table of dishes corresponding with numbers below. Photograph reproduced by the permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

The dishes served at the table of King James and Queen Mary:
1.Pistacio cream in glasses.                            
2.Anchoviz (anchovies)                                          
3.Custards        )                                                         
4.Collar Veal    )  Cold
5.Lamb – stones
6.Cocks-combs  )
7.Marrow patie  )  Hot
8.Jelly   )
9.Sallet )   Cold
10.Stags tongues.
12.Patty pidgeon.
14.Cray Fish.
15.Blumange              )      
16.Bolonia Sausages  )  Cold
17.Collops and Eggs.
18.Frigase Chick   )
19.Rabbets Ragou )  Hot
20.Oysters pickled  )
21.Portugal Eggs    )  Cold
22Dutch Beef         )
24.Mushrooms  )
25.Veal              )  Hot
26.Hogs tongues  )
27.Cheese cakes  )  Cold
28.Ciprus Birds.
30.Asparagus  )
31.A Pudding  )  Hot
32.Ragou of Oysters  )
33.Scallops                )  Cold
35.Three dozen glasses of lemon Jelly.
36.Five Neats Tongues  (Cold).
37.Four dozen wild Pidgeons,12 larded, (Hot).
38.A whole Salmon  (Cold).
39.Eight Pheasants,3 larded  (Cold).
40.Nine small Pidgeon Pies  (Cold).
41.Twenty Four fat Chickens,6 larded  (Hot).
42.Twelve Crabs  (Cold).
43.Twenty Four Partridges,6 larded, (Hot).
44.A dish of tarts.
45.Soles marinetted, (Cold).
46.Twenty Four Tame Pidgeons,6 larded, (Hot)
47.Four Fawns,2 larded, (Hot).
48.Four Pullets La Dobe.           )  
49.Twelve Quails                       )  (Hot)           
50.Four Partridges – Halved      )
51.Ten Oyster Pies, (Hot)                                                 
54.Four Dozen of Puddings,(Hot)
56.Beef a La Royal, (Hot).
57.An Oglio, (Hot).
59.A Batalia Pie
62.Three Turkeys a La Royal, (Hot).
63.Four Chicks        )     
64.Bacon Gammon  ) (Hot).
65.Spinage               )
66.Three Piggs (Hot)
67.Almond Puff.
68.Twelve Stump Pies, (Cold).
69.A square pyramide, rising from four large dishes on the angles, and four  lesser dishes on the sides, containing the several fruits in season, and all manner of sweet-meats.
70.A whole Lamb, larded, (Hot).
71.Twelve Ruffs.
72.Four dozen Egg –Pies, (Cold).
73.A very large circular pyramide in the middle of the table, rising from twelve dishes in the circumference, six of which were large, and the others six less, containing the several fruits in season, and all manner of sweet-meats.
74.Six Mullets, large souc’d.
75.Eight Godwits.
76.Eight Neats Tongues and Udders roasted, (Hot).
77.A square pyramide, rising from four large dishes on the angles, and four lesser on the sides, containing the several fruits in season, and all manner of sweet-meats.
78.Eighteen Minc’d Pies, (Cold).
79.Marrow Tofts.
80.Eight wild Ducks, marinated, (Hot).
81.Gooseberry Tarts   )
82.Lampreys               ) (Cold).
83.Shrimps                  )
84.Twenty Four Puffins, (Cold).
87Four Dozen of Petit-Paties, (Hot).
89.Five Carps, (Cold).
90.Blewmange in shells, (Cold)
92.Four Dozen of Almond Puddings, (Hot).
94.Eight Ortelans.
95.Lamb Sallet, (Cold).

96.Five Partridge Pies    )
97.Smelts marinated       )  (Cold) Moil              )
99.Eighteen Turkey Chicks, six larded, (Hot).
100.Twelve Lobsters, (Cold).
101.Nine Pullets, for larded, (Hot).
102.Bacon,two Gammons, (Cold).
103.Twelve Leverets, four larded, (Hot).
104,Sturgeon, (Cold).
105.Twenty Four Ducklings, six larded, (Hot).
106.Collar’d Beef, (Cold).
107.Eight Capons, three larded, (Hot).
108.Five Pullet Pies, (Cold).
109.Eight Geese, three larded, (Hot).
110.Three souc’d Pigs, (Cold).
111.Three Dozen glasses of Jelly.
112.Botargo            )
113.Gerkins            ) (Cold)     
114.Souc’d Trout   )
115.Sheeps Tongues.      )
116.Skirrets                     )  (Hot)
117.Cabbadge Pudding   )
118.Eight Teals Marin    )
119.French Beans           )  (Cold).
120.Leveret Pie               )
121.Lemon Sallet          )
122.Smelts Pickled        )  (Cold).
123.Periwinkles             )
124.Chicks marl’d     )
125.Cavear                 ) (Cold)
126.Olives                  )
127.Prawns            )
128.Samphire         )  (Cold)
129.Trotter Pie       )
130.Taffata Tarts     )
131.Razor Fish        )  (Cold)
132.Broom Buds     )
133.Collar’d Pigs.
134.Parmazan   )
135.Capers       )  (Cold).
136.Spinage Tart.
137.Whitings marinated   )
138.Cockles                      )  (Cold).
139.Pickled Mushrooms  )
140.Prawns                      )  (Cold).
141.Mangoes                   )
142.Bacon Pie           )
143.Cardoons            )  (Cold)
144.Souc’d Tench     )
145.Three Dozen Glasses of Blumange, (Cold).

As you can see, many of the items are familiar to us to-day, although some, if not many, have gone out of fashion. Others are not so recognizable. All in all this was not a table for the faint hearted….!!!

Clarification of a number of the menu items may well be required. I hope that the following will help with this; if some are wrong then please feel free to advise the correct explanation.

There is also a record, of the dishes served at the other  tables. They do differ in some cases to that of their Majesties, but in general they are a large number of common dishes.
Some spellings are different to what we are familiar with now, and these I have left in their traditional form.
The more, possibly obscure items, I have attempted to translate;

Item 4: Collar Veal – Meat that is rolled up and tied with string, also to cut up and press into a roll.
Item 5: Lambs-stones  (Testicles)
Item 6: Cocks-combs  - the red fleshy crest on the head of the domestic fowl.
Item 7: Marrow Patie – (Bone Marrow pate.)                                   
Item 9: Sallet – (Salad.)
Item 11: Sweet-breads – (the pancreas or thymus gland of an animal – heart, stomach, belly, throat, gullet or neck, - looked upon as a delicacy.)
Item 13: Petty –toes  (pigs feet).
Item 17: Collops and Eggs  (an egg fried on bacon).
Item 21: Portugal Eggs  (egg tart pastry, similar to custard tart).
Item 23: Andolioes  (ANDOLIANS – the guts of a hog, cooked with salt, pepper, cloves, mace and coriander).
Item 28: Ciprus Birds  (Preserved Fig Peckers-Beccafico – considered a dainty when it was fattened on figs and grapes)
Item 29: Tansy  (a pudding, omelette, or the like, flavoured with juice of tansy (an Herbaceous plant).
Item 34: Salamagundy (a type of salad, made with lettuce, finely chopped chicken and anchovies, garnished with small poached onions and scalded grapes.)
Item 36: Neats Tongues  (an Ox or Bullock,a Cow or Heifer).
Item 37,39,41,43,46,47,70,99,101,103,105,107 & 109  (Larded – to insert small strips of bacon into, before cooking.)
Item 48: Pullets la Dobe  (Chicken Stew)
Item 57:Oglio  (a very large stew with extensive ingredients)
Item 59:Batalia Pie  (a Fish pie)
Item 68: Stump Pies  (Mutton/Lamb Pie)  [ ]
Item 71: Ruffs  (either a small freshwater fish or a male bird of the sandpiper family)
Item 74,110,114 & 144: Souc’d  (Meat, Fish – prepared or preserved in vinegar/pickle.
Item 75: Godwits  (A type of marshland bird)
Item 79: Marrow Tofts  (Toasts)
Item 82: Lampreys (An eel like sucker fish)
Item 85:Smelts  (small fish)
Item 88: Morels  (type of mushroom)
Item 90: Blewmange: (probably a chicken meat dish served in pastry shells)
Item 94: Ortelans:  (a small bird of the bunting family: they were captured alive, force fed, then drowned in armagnac, roasted, then eaten whole, bones and all..!!).
Item 98: Turt de Moil: (a puff pastry dish containing bone marrow, butter, sweet-meats, cream, eggs, orange-flower-water and sweetened with sugar.)
Item 103: Leverets (young Hares)
Item 107: Capon  (castrated domestic cock).
Item 112: Botargo (a relish made of Mullet roe or Tunny).
Item 116: Skirrets: (a species of water parsnip).
Item 118: Teals:  (species of wild duck).
Item 128: Samphire:  (sea shore plant, growing on rocks, who’s aromatic, saline, fleshy leaves were used in pickles).
Item 130: Taffata Tart: ( was a word  applied for a cream dish i.e. a cream tart/pie).
Item 131: Razor Fish: (a mollusc having a long narrow shell like the handle of a razor).
Item 143: Cardoons:  (edible part of the artichoke).
Item 15 & 145: Blumange:  (a meat concoction)  [  ].

Item 8,35 & 111: Jelly:  (dishes of Jelly – probably refer to gelatine, flavoured with either Lemon or Orange).

by Adrian Skipp.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Monastic maladies and cures for the plague

Magazine and newspaper articles are forever telling us to stop smoking, start exercising, eat “superfoods”, cut out bread, drink less coffee and so on. This week I take a look at some late medieval dietary advice and cures for diseases scribbled by the monks of Worcester Cathedral priory in a sixteenth-century register.  These snippets on  monastic diet and medicine feature as part of the library’s current exhibition, ‘Life in a Benedictine monastery’, so be sure to call to the North and West cloisters of Worcester Cathedral to see photographs and full transcriptions.

Poster for the library's exhibition, 'Life in a Benedictine monastery', located in the north and West cloisters until October 16th 2013. Copyright © Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
The collection of cures and dietary advice in a sixteenth-century monastic register is a mere four folios in length, written by one scribe in middle English, dating to around 1540. At the bottom of the first of the four folios  (pictured below) is a rather amusing list of foods “which dothe hurte the eyes”. The list of foods that hurt the eyes include some obvious candidates, such as onions (a nemesis of your blogger), and garlic. The list also warns that reading immediately after supper is bad for the eyes, as is “drunkenness, lechery […] sweet wynes and thycke wynes”.

Recipes: "meates whiche hurteth the tethe", "meates ingendryng flewme", and "meates whiche dothe hurte the eyes". Photograph of AXII, fol. 166 v. Reproduced by the permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)

The thickness of wine, how watered down it should be, and the implications that this would have on health was a matter of debate in the middle ages. The Dominican General Chapter regulations from Narbonne (1243), for example, stated that the infirm and young members of the Order should only drink watered down wine. The Fransiscan Minister-Gerald of Odone was perhaps too well acquainted with the problems of consuming thick wines; he wrote in 1331 of the headaches, digestive problems, and corruption to the four humours that could be caused by drinking wine. Written in a fifteenth-century hand in the margin of a manuscript held in the Cathedral Library is the below recipe for a hangover cure, suggesting that the monks at Worcester similarly had experience of the damage potent wines could do. Titled “A medicine for drunken men”, the author advises:

“Give to him that is prone to drunkenness the lung of a sheep or a ram for meat.  Afterwards, however much he drinks, he shall feel no drunkenness.  Similarly give to him that is drunk the burnt ashes of a swallow and he shall never be drunk.  Experience says that it is certain.”

 Whilst the author claims “experience says that it is certain” that upon consuming the above a person will be cured of drunkenness, I wouldn’t recommend trying this one at home. I would recommend pizza as my preferred cure for drunkenness.
In addition to foods that damage the eyes, the sixteenth-century monastic register also contains lists of foods that hurt the teeth and engender phlegm (see above), and you can see transcriptions of these too in the current exhibition in the Cathedral’s north and west cloister.

Of particular interest to your blogger, who curated the exhibition, were the recipes on the last two of the four folios, aimed at curing specific diseases. One recipe is described as “a medcyne for the gowt”.
Gout or podagra was a common medieval ailment, linked to the overconsumption of luxury foods, sugars and beers. Given the variety of spices, meats, fish and so forth that  made up the Benedictine diet over the course of a year, it is unsurprising that the monks would have sought out a cure for gout. Here is a modernized transcription of the remedy (cat owners- BE WARNED)  

“Take good grains and sit in them up to the knees for the space of an hour and a half and then after […] dry your legs clean and for one day and knight sit your legs before the fire and after that take a wild cat’s skin and lay the flesh-side to the sore”.

Gout was similar to rheumatism in terms of pain and so sitting by a fire, warming the inflamed skin and soothing it with a soft material like cat’s skin, was probably fairly comforting to the sufferer. If anyone has knowledge of the use of catskin or other skins in medieval medicine, I’d be interested to know what the healing properties of these skins were thought to be, and to how widely they were used.  

"Yf a man be stryken w[t] the plage". Photograph of AXII, fol. 170 r. Reproduced by the permission of the Dean and Chapter of Worcester Cathedral (U.K.)
Finally, the register also includes two “cures” for the plague, pictured above. Neither of the two plague cures refer to sores on the skin, nor to swellings, making it likely that they were intended to treat pneumonic plague rather than the bubonic strand of the disease. The author of the first of the plague cures is Dr. Bentley, who was the physician to King Henry VIII. The language of the instructions is typical of medieval cures, in so far as they provide rather vague measurements of quantity and time: “take a handful of sage and a handful of rue and a handful of elder leaves and a handful of red brier leaves and stamp them all together in a mortar and strain them through a linen cloth” etc. 
This first plague cure tells us that over the course of a fortnight you should drink one spoonful of the cure daily after a period of fasting. Yet somewhat worryingly, as soon as you take the first spoonful, the author kindly informs us that you will come down with a fever for the next 33 days! Apparently, things don’t get any better with this “cure” as, after you’ve taken the fifteenth and presumably final spoonful, you come down with a fever for the rest of the year.
Phew, these recipes make me rather appreciative of lemsip. If you want to find out more about these medieval recipes or read them up-close, pop into the cloisters of Worcester Cathedral where you will see them on the exhibition board entitled, “Caring for the sick”. Please leave your comments in the visitor comments book. ‘Life in a Benedictine monastery’ is free to view until the 16th of October, 09:00-17:00.