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Feasts From the Past

The Historic FoodieWith the holidays fast approaching most of us have our minds on the feasts we will share with friends and loved ones so when I saw this account of a Sunday Dinner from the 17th of August 1617, “for the Lords’ Table,” I thought it was well worth sharing. Even holiday cooking will seem simple after thinking how many people it took to make this feast given the cooking techniques of the time.

“First course—Pullets, boiled capon, boiled mutton, boiled chickens, roast shoulder of mutton, boiled ducks, roast loin of veal, pullets, roast haunch of venison, burred capon, hot pasty of venison, roast turkey, burred veal, 1 roast swan and 1 for to-morrow, hot chicken pye, roasted goose, cold rabbits, boiled jiggits of mutton, snipe pye, boiled breast of veal, roast capons, pullets, roast beef, cold tongue pye, boiled sprod, cold roast herons, cold curlew pye, hot mince pye, custards, roast pigs.

Roast goose from our 2013 Christmas dinner 

"Second course—One hot pheasant, and one for the King, six quails for the King, partridge, poults, artichoke pye, chickens, roast curlews, buttered pease, rabbits duck, plovers, red deer pye, burred pig, roast hot herons, roast lamb, gammon of Bacon, roast pigeons, made dish, burred chicken, pear tart, pullets and grease, dryed tongues, turkey pye, pheasant pye, pheasant tart, dryed hogs cheeks, cold turkey chicks.

"Sunday Night’s Supper, the 17th of August, 1617.

"First course—Pullet, boiled capon, cold mutton, roast shoulder of mutton, boiled chicken, cold capon, roast veal, boiled rabbits, pullet, roast turkey, hot pasty of venison, roast shoulder of venison, cold herons, sliced beef, umble pye, boiled ducks, baked chickens, pullet, cold neat’s tongue pye, roast neat’s tongue, boiled sprod, cold baked curlews, cold baked turkeys, neat’s feet, boiled rabbits, fried rabbits.

"Second course—Quails, poults, herons, plovers, chickens, pear tart, rabbits, buttered pease, made dish, ducks, gammon of bacon, red deer pye, pigeons, wild boar pye, curlew, dry neat’s tongue, _____tart, dried hog’s cheek, red deer pye.

"Monday Morning’s Breakfast, the 18th of August, 1617. Pullets, boiled capon, shoulder of mutton, roast veal, boiled chickens, roast rabbits, roast shoulder of mutton, roast chine of beef, pasty of venison, roast turkey, roast pig, roast venison, boiled ducks, pullet, cold red deer pye, four roast capons, roast poults, pheasant, herons, boiled mutton, wild boar pye, boiled jiggits of mutton, burred ditto, gammon of bacon, chicken pye, burred capon, dried hog’s cheek, umble pye, tart, made dish.”

The banquet room of Hoghton-TowerThis tremendous amount of food by today’s standards was literally fit for a king. Sir Richard Hoghton (knighted by Queen Elizabeth and created baronet May 22, 1611) served in several parliaments in capacity of knight of the shire for the county of Lancaster, England, and Hoghton entertained King James the First at his home when the king was traveling to Scotland in 1617. The preceding menus are those from the king’s visit.

Notice the almost complete lack of vegetables on this menu. One would think that they simply weren’t listed were it not for the one mention of "buttered pease" (peas). A “made-dish” refers to anything that is made from a number of ingredients. It is anyone’s guess what went into these particular dishes.

Several labourers (servants) were required to prepare the vast amount of food served and each was probably highly skilled. “For the pastries—John Greene, Richard Blythe, William Aldersey, Alexander Cowper.  For the ranges—John Coleburne, Elias James, John Rairke, Robert Dance.  For boiling—John Murryer, William Parkes.  For pullets—John Clerke, John Bibby.  Chief Cooks—Mr. Morris; Mr. Miller.”

Entertainment was as lavish as the food served during the king’s time at Hoghton-Tower and a long poem read before the king has been faithfully preserved along with the menus in the family archives. Hoghton-Tower is available for weddings and special events.

The banquet room of Hoghton-Tower 


Burred: No definition found that would be pertinent to food preparation, probably cooked over hot coals.

Capon: An emasculated rooster. When performed at a young age the meat is rendered more tender.

Chine: a cut of meat containing the backbone

Curlew: A bird in the snipe family, having long legs and a curved bill.

Gammon: a cured ham, or an end of a side of bacon.

“Jiggit” – a Gigot: a leg and loin

Neat: a cow (or beef), it could refer to a calf

Pasty (Pas’ti): A pie with crust all around it, a meat pie

Poult: Most often refers to a young turkey today, but may also refer to a young chicken, pheasant, or other fowl raised for food. Related to poultry.

Pullet: a young hen

Sprod: a salmon-trout when first returned from the sea. A fish.

Umble: From circa 1400, the edible inner parts of a deer or other animal (liver, heart, etc.)

Blissful Meals, one and all. I hope you enjoy the fellowship of gathering with friends and family for Thanksgiving and Christmas, the meals that will be shared, and the blessings of the coming year. May God bless.

See: Abram, William Alexander. “Parish of Blackburn, County of Lancaster.” 1877. Blackburn.