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Timeline 1596-1597

*For all to enjoy, and use as conversation starters at Muster:


A flush toilet is illustrated in an English pamphlet, The Metamorphosis of Ajax by John Harrington.

– The Swan Theater opens in Paris Gardens, Bankside.

– 1596 began a three year span of bad harvests that ended in 1598.

– Jan. 27 – Francis Drake dies.

– Feb. 14 – Archbishop  of Canterbury John Whitgift begins building his hospital and school at Croydon (completed in 1599).

– March 23 – Henry Unton, diplomat, dies.

April 9 – Siege of Calais, Spanish troops capture Calais.

– June 30-July 4 – – English troops commanded by Robert Essex sack Cadiz.

– July 23 Lord Hunsdon dies; Lord Cobham appointed Lord Chamberlain.

October 18 – “Second Armada”, a Spanish fleet sent to attack England in revenge to the raid on Cadiz, is wrecked in storms near Cape Finisterre, Spain.

– November – 34 residents of Blackfriars sign a petition asking the Privy Council to stop Burbage’s rebuilt Blackfriar’s theater from opening.

– November 21 – Bartholomew Steer attempts to launch a rebellion on Enslow Hill in Oxfordshire.

 Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge is founded (classes begin in 1598).



– The Vagabonds Act 1597 in Parliament (39 Eliz. c. 4) introduces penal transportation as a punishment for the first time.

– Ben Jonson is arrested for staging The Isle of Dogs at the Swan Theater.

– Feb. 2 – James Burbage dies.

– (early) – First Quarto editions of Richard III, Richard II, and Romeo and Juliet published.

– March – Lord Cobham dies.

– probable first performance of Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.

April 23 – Probable first performance of Shakespeare ‘s The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Conversation subjects for Muster (Humor)

Presenting to you today, selected excerpts from the newest edition of the pre-eminent 16th century bird-watcher’s manual that describes many of the birds to be found in Surrey, home of the Cat’s Perch Inn!  (I am told that all those within the Bandes have a keen eye for the birds.)



Part III – Sparrows

Known to alle, the most common sparrowe, passer domesticus.


Part V – Robins

The common Redbreasted Robin, erithacus rubecula (ordinarily seen in the company of other winged creatures).


Part VII – Owles and divers other raptors


The Breasted Owle, athene boobicans, is observed only at night, due to its solitary and wandering nature.  Usually seen in pairs.


Part IX – Flightless Birds

Rarely seen, and oft misunderstood, England’s only flightless bird, the Prickly Warbler, spinictus philosophicus.


Part XIV – Somewhat Naked Birds

The fortunately elusive Bird-Man of Putney.  Seen late at night, singing off-key. Pictured: We think it might be a mating display, we’re not sure.


Part XXIV – Inordinately Large Birds

The Common Sussex Widgeon, calamitus palumbus. Often seen sitting below trees.  Not flightless, it just needs a boarding pass.


Part CXXXIX – The Popinjay


Seen here without its customary head and neck plumage.


Thank you all, the book is not available for sale at this time.


“Now, in a new tune, new gesture, but old language”

I had occasion to perform in Ben Jonson’s 1610 play The Alchemist at Pennsic this year. In going over the script I found a number of words and phrases that Jonson used that I thought I’d share with the group. You can add these to those you put in your language worksheet in the Impression Workbook. Or just save them up for use whenever.

I’ve divided them up into single words (including insults) and phrases. I’ve also added some commentary.


gallants (rich or well-to-do men)

heart (used like “darling”)

pox (we know this one, but Jonson uses it a lot)

treat (verb, used as “deal” I’ll not treat with you)

gull (verb and noun referring to cheating or the cheat-ee)

spittal (short for “hospital”)

how (multi-purpose word, meaning “What?”, “No!”, “Are you f**king kidding me?”, etc.)


rogue (used a lot)

bawd (sexual insult)



puck-fist (a miser, or one who boasts)

polecat (not the skunk, but a kind of mink)


scurvy (adjective, often used with “yellow”)

One of my favorite lines from the play, “my scurvy, yellow, baboon don”.


hang me, yourself

day owls (I got nothing)

fine, young quodling (probably from “codling”, and likely refers to a young or immature man)

brain of a tailor (my fav, used as “holy shit” or the like)

sooty, smoky-bearded (nice alliteration)

hence, away &

flee, mischief (either one is a rude send off)

I fart at thee (my opening line)


Sweet Bag at the Met

Last month several of us visited the Ratti Textile Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. They were very friendly and accommodating of our visit. Anyone can get an appointment to view textiles, but the items must be in their department – no costumes/clothing unfortunately and the items can not be on view in the Museum. We were allowed to take as many pictures as we wanted as well. Appointments were limited to 2 hours.

We were allowed 10 items and viewed both embroidery and lace items from the 16th and early 17th centuries. It was amazing to see these items in person. They were all laid out on a table with bright lights for easy viewing. We are not allowed to touch anything, but Isobel, our docent, was happy to flip the items over so we could see both sides.

I will gradually post about the items we saw and share my observations. I cannot share my images online but am happy to show them to anyone that is interested at a work weekend or event or if you want to come by for a visit. The images I have posted here are from the Met website. Unfortunately for the first item all they have is B&W, one of the reasons I choose this bag to see in person.

Bag, first half 17th century British, Silk and metal thread; L. 4 5/8 x W. 4 5/8 inches (11.7 x 11.7 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, by exchange, 1929 (29.23.21)

Bag, first half 17th century
Silk and metal thread; L. 4 5/8 x W. 4 5/8 inches (11.7 x 11.7 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, by exchange, 1929 (29.23.21)

The first item we saw was 29.23.21 a sweet bag. I was overwhelmed by how exquisitely delicate it is. Embroidered on white silk satin, the threads are incredibly delicate and fine; every stitch detailed.

The main motifs were different on each side of the bag. Something I haven’t seen before. The side not shown has a lovely pink/white tudor rose in middle, a blue borage in the upper right, a yellow and white pansy in the upper left, some blue leaf like thing in the lower left and a honeysuckle flower in the lower right corner.

The silk threads are a variety of soft whites, pinks, yellows, blues and more bold greens and blues used in a satin stitch for the motifs.  I am sure there is some fading with age, but I thought the piece in remarkably good condition. The motif on the lower left shown above has an underlying satin stitch fading from dark blue to light blue to white with gold silk threads couched on top to create a grid pattern. Then inside each grid is a tiny french knot.

The pailletes are incredibly tiny, about 2mm in diameter. Each one is secured with a tiny piece of purl. The coiling stems are pieces of couched purl (looks like rough purl – round gilt as opposed to flattened gilt) out-lined with a 3-ply twisted gold thread that is also couched down with a gold silk. The metal threads are a combination of tarnished silver and gold.

I briefly viewed the interior of the bag. The interior pink silk lining is quite pale and deteriorating. The purse string is the Green Dorge pattern I did for my sweet bag, 4 pink silk threads bordering two gold threads in the middle. Seems to be a popular pattern. It was easy to weave.

There are no tassels anywhere. The bead is woven similar to that described in Jacqui Carey’s book on Sweet Bags and that I used to make mine. There are turks head knots as well. The sides just look like they are sewn together and then lined with the 3 ply twisted gilt thread.

I enjoyed viewing this item in person, it was an incredible experience to see it, experience it and take the time to really look at it. Pictures just don’t do it justice.

Jolly Good Ale and Old

Jolly Good Ale and Old

(A drynkinge song of much repute)


I cannot eat but little meat

My stomach is not good

But sure I think that I can Drink

With him that weareth an Hood.

Though I goe Bare, take you no care

For I am never cold

I stuff my skin so well within

With Jolly good Ale and old.

Back and sides goe bare, goe bare,

          Both hand and foot goe colde,

But belly, God send good Ale enough,

          Be it newe or old.


I love no roast but a nut-brown Toast

And a crab laid in the fyre,

A little bread should do me stead,

Much bread I never desire.

Nor Wind nor Snowe or Frost, I trow,

Can harm me if it would,

I am so wrapped, and thoroughly lappt,

With Jolly good Ale and old.

Back and sides goe bare, goe bare, &c.


I care right nought, I take no thought

For cloathes to keepe me warm,

Have I good Drink, I surely think

That none can do me harm.

For truly then, I feare no Man,

Though he be ne’er so bold,

When I am armed and thoroughly warmed

With Jolly good Ale and old.

Back and sides goe bare, goe bare, &c.


Now let them drink till they nod and wink,

E’en as good Fellowes doe,

They shall not miss to have the bliss

That Good Ale brings them to.

And all poor souls that scour black bowls,

Or have them lustily trolled,

God save the lives of them and their wives

Wether they be younge or old.

Back and sides goe bare, goe bare,

          Both hand and foot goe colde,

But belly, God send good Ale enough,

          Be it newe or old.


Soldiers Three

Soldiers Three

We be soldiers three,

Pardonnay moy je vouz ahn pree,

Lately come forth from the low country,

With never a penny of money.


Here, good fellow, I drink to thee,

Pardonnay moy je vouz ahn pree,

To all the good fellowes wherever they be,

With never a penny of money.


And he that will not pledge me this,

Pardonnay moy je vouz ahn pree,

Pays for the shot, whatever it is,

With never a penny of money.


Charge it again, boys, charge it again,

Pardonnay moy je vouz ahn pree,

As long as there is any ink in thy pen,

With never a penny of money.


We be soldiers three,

Pardonnay moy je vouz ahn pree,

Lately come forth from the low country,

With never a penny of money.


The Jovial Broome-Man

The Jovial Broome-Man

(The tale of a much-travelled man, and how he came to be laid low)

Room for a Lad that’s come from seas,

Hey, Jolly Broom-Man

That gladly now would take his ease,

And therefore make me room, man.

France, the Netherlands, and Spain,

Hey, Jolly Broom-Man,

I’ve crossed the seas and back again,

And therefore make me room, man.


Yet in these countries there liv’d I,

Hey, Jolly Broom-Man

And valiant soldiers I’ve seen die,

          And therefore make me room, man.

A hundred gallants there I kill’d,

          Hey, Jolly Broom-Man,

And besides, a world of blood I spill’d

And therefore make me room, man.


In Germanie I took a Towne,

          Hey, Jolly Broom-Man

And threw the walls there upside-down,

          And therefore make me room, man.

At Tilbury Camp with Captain Drake,

          Hey, Jolly Broom-Man,

I made the Spanish Fleet to quake

And therefore make me room, man.


At Holland’s Leaguer there I fought,

          Hey, Jolly Broom-Man

But there the service prov’d too hot,

          And therefore make me room, man.

Then from the League returned I,

          Hey, Jolly Broom-Man,

Naked, hungry, cold and dry,

And therefore make me room, man.


When I was drinking at the Cat’s Perch Inn,

          Hey, Jolly Broom-Man

I was set upon by Gardiner’s Men,

          And therefore make me room, man.

Then to make the matter worse,

          Hey, Jolly Broom-Man,

They threw me down and stole my purse

And therefore make me room, man.


Now have I compass’d the Globe,

          Hey, Jolly Broom-Man

And I’m return’d as poor as Job,

          And therefore make me room, man.

And now I’m safe returned here,

          Hey, Jolly Broom-Man,

Here’s to you with a cup of English beer,

And therefore make me room, man.



Of All the Birds That Ever I See

Of All the Birds That Ever I See

(Wherein the men do speak their mind, and the women, theirs.)

Of all the birds

That ever I see,

The owl is the fairest

In her degree.

For all the day long

She sits in a tree,

And when the night comes,

Away flies she.

          To whit, to woo,

          To whom drinks thou,

          Sir Knave, to thee.

          This song is well sung,

          And I make you a vow,

          That he is a knave

          That drinketh now.

          This song is well sung,

          And I make you a vow,

          That he is a knave

          That drinketh now.

          Nose, nose, nose, nose,

          And who gave thee

          That jolly red nose?

          Cinnamint and Ginger,

          Nutmeg and Cloves,

          And that gave thee

          Thy jolly red nose.

          Nose, nose, nose, nose,

          And who gave thee

          That jolly red nose?

         Cinnamint and Ginger,

          Nutmeg and Cloves,

          And that gave thee

          Thy jolly red nose.

(Verse the second, wherein the men do sing:)

I’ll not have a woman

Who’s never been tried,

But give me a wanton

To lie by my side.

And this I do use

As the rule of my life,

That wanton is best

Who’s another man’s wife.

          Nose, nose, &c.

(Verse the third, where the women do answer:)

You’ll not have us, sirs,

Although you may try,

But we do not deign

With drunkards to lie.

For Ale-Knights do claim

Our fields they will plow,

But they always deliver

Much less than they vow.

          Nose, nose, &c.

Foods and Feasts 2015 Governor’s Table: Gingerbread

Modern gingerbread in the US is mostly done in cookie form, using flour to make a dense cookie dough. Our readers in the UK will be more familiar with gingerbread in a dense moist loaf form, like banana bread.

gingerbread 2015

(The little rounds are slices of crystallized ginger.)

Gervase Markham in The English Housewife has a recipe for gingerbread as follows:

To make coarse gingerbread, take a quart of honey and set it on the coals and refine it: then take a pennyworth of ginger, as much pepper, as much liquorice; and a quarter pound of aniseeds, and a pennyworth of sanders [sandalwood]: all these must be beaten and searced [sifted], and so put into the honey: then put in a quarter of a pint of claret wine or old ale: then take three penny manchets finely grated and strew it amongst the rest, and stir it till it come to a stiff paste, and then make it into cakes and dry them gently.

That is a lot of spices, and in amounts that are almost impossible to gauge, because of the changing worth of the ingredients. Working with the recipe was necessary to make sure that the gingerbread was not overwhelmed by the liquorice flavour. Modern honey allows us to skip the step of refining the honey.

Gingerbread (The English Housewife, 1615)
1 cup honey
1 Tbsp ginger
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp liquorice/aniseed extract
1/2 tsp whole aniseed, ground in a mortar and sifted
1/4 cup ale
5 cups finely grated fresh white breadcrumbs, firmly packed
cooking spray

Tools needed: 1 medium saucepan, heavy bottomed, small jello molds or candy molds, parchment paper, cookie sheet.

Warm the honey in a medium-size saucepan over low heat. Add the ginger, pepper, extract, and ground aniseed. Stir until well mixed. Add the ale, and stir until well blended. Add the breadcrumbs 1/2 cup at a time, stirring until blended each time. Once all the bread is added, cook the mixture over low heat, stirring frequently, until the mix is a stiff paste, like firm mashed potatoes. Turn off the heat, and allow to stand until cool enough to handle.

Preheat oven to 225F. Grease jello/candy molds generously with cooking spray; pack gingerbread mixture firmly into molds, so no air pockets remain, and so the bases are flat. Put filled molds into the fridge for 10 minutes. Un-mold gingerbread onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Bake @ 225F for 30-40 minutes, or until the surface of the gingerbread is dry to the touch.

I’ve seen other people try to make gingerbread using this recipe, and I think the last step of drying the gingerbread in the oven is crucial to the success of the recipe. If the gingerbread is not baked, it remains unmanageably sticky. The flavour is spicier and has more bite than modern gingerbread; if you like anise and ginger, though, this recipe is delicious. Make sure to use small molds; a little of this gingerbread goes a long way!

Jamestown Food and Feasts 2015 – Recipe for Sugar Cakes

Gardiner’s Company had a great time at Foods and Feasts this year! Thank you to all our great volunteers, it was fabulous.

Bob and I worked the Great Hall in the Governor’s House, as usual:

FF 2015 table 1

I’ll be posting all the recipes for this year’s Governor’s Table over the course of the next week or so, but let’s start with links to the recipes I posted last year:

Sugar Cakes:

sugar cakes with marzipan 2015

This year, I augmented the recipe with a topping for wafers (another kind of thin cookie, very popular with the rich) from The English Housewife by Gervase Markham:

To make the best marchpane [marzipan], take the best Jordan almonds and blanch them in warm water, then put them into a stone mortar, and with a wooden pestle beat them to pap, then take of the finest refined sugar well searced [powdered], and with it, and damask rose-water, beat it to a good stiff paste, allowing to almost every Jordan almond three spoonful of sugar; then when it is brought thus to a paste, lay it on a fair [flat] table, and strewing searced sugar under it, mould it like leaven [i.e., into a flattish ball, like a round loaf of bread]; then with a rolling pin roll it forth, and lay it upon wafers washed with rose-water; then pinch it about the sides, and put it into what form you please; then strew searced sugar all over it; which done, wash it over with rose-water and sugar mixed together, for that will make the ice; then adorn it with comfits, gilding, or whatsoever devices you please, and so set it into a hot stove, and there bake it crispy, and so serve it forth.

I substituted the sugar cakes for the wafers in the recipe, baking them and allowing them to cool before applying the marzipan. I rolled out the marzipan to a 1/4″ thick, and cut out the rolled marzipan with the same size cutter I used for the sugar cake dough (about 2″).

You will need:
Baked and cooled sugar cakes
16oz almond paste (in cans in the baking aisle; any marzipan dough will do)
2 cups powdered (confectioner’s) sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup rosewater, plus two Tablespoons rosewater

Dust your rolling surface and rolling pin with powdered sugar. Open the marzipan, and rolling it in your hands, form it into a ball. Roll the ball out until roughly 1/4″ thick (if it gets sticky, add more powdered sugar). Using the same size cutter as your sugar cakes, cut out as many rounds of marzipan as you have sugar cakes (the linked recipe makes about 52).

Working a few at a time so they don’t dry out, brush the tops of the sugar cakes with rosewater and then apply the marzipan rounds, pressing down lightly. Allow to dry.

Mix the 1/4 cup rosewater and the 2 cups powdered sugar together (you can add some meringue powder here for stability if you wish, but it’s not mandatory) into icing. Using a pastry brush, brush a thick layer of the icing onto each sugar cake. Allow to dry completely before putting them into a cookie tin or box. Put parchment paper between the layers of cookies, as the marzipan will get oily if it gets warm.

You can also change the flavour of the recipe by substituting lemon juice or plain water for the rosewater. Not everyone likes rosewater, but I think these are delicious.