William’s World: Men of Metal and Mettle

Interested in the blacksmithing and other trades?  Looking for a way to celebrate our colonial roots for Independence Day?  Come by Pennsbury Manor this Sunday, July 1st from 1:00-4:00pm to talk with our demonstrators and see them in action!   

 

Back in May, we posted an article on the Joyner’s Trade.  Now our intern Ray is exploring the blacksmithing tradition at Pennsbury and wants to share what he’s found!

“Blacksmith at His Forge,” Le Nain Brothers,1640

A blacksmith in the time of William Penn was considered a highly skilled craftsman, someone who could provide a town or estate community with valuable tools and metal accoutrements. We know of a “smith” on the estate of Pennsbury Manor from a 1687 inventory and various letters that have survived. One list called for blacksmithing tools to be brought over by ship from England. Along with these tools, the shop was stocked with a bed, blankets, rugs, and two chests. This indicates that not only did a blacksmith work at Pennsbury, but also most likely lived above his shop. A worker with such skills would be essential on a working estate like Pennsbury, for he would be required to create, maintain or repair any object made of metal on the property. Along with his normal duties, we have reason to believe Penn’s “smith” also helped deliver mail. In a letter from local Quaker resident Phineas Pemberton to his wife Alice, he wrote that “this comes by the Gvenor’s smith.”

During the excavation of the site in the 1930’s, many artifacts such as nails, latches, and hinges were found (on view in our exhibit!). Items such as these would have been manufactured by Penn’s “smith,” along with various tools and even shoes for horses. Today at Pennsbury, we have a reconstructed blacksmith shop with tools that would have been used in this pre-industrial setting. Every first Sunday from April-October, volunteer interpreters recreate the atmosphere of fire  and clanging metal in their blacksmithing demonstrations for visitors. 

 

~ Written by Ray Tarasiewicz, Intern

Edited by Hannah Howard

 

 

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William’s World: Hi-Ho the Dairy-O!

Interested in the dairying process and the production of cheese? Need a special outing for Father’s Day? Come enjoy our cheese-making demonstration being held this Sunday, June 17th from 1 to 4 pm!

My cow is a commonwealth to me… for she allows myself, my wife and son for to banquet ourselves withal.

Food in Early Modern England

A while back, we posted a Springtime Ode to the Milkmaid.  Well it’s time to recognize the popularity of the product she was selling! 

In early 17th century England, well into the mid 18th century, the uses for milk can best be described as abundant!   However, in the early 1600’s it may have been hard to foresee the leaps in popularity this common resource would make. Although it was consumed, in one form or another, by all classes, it was most common among the poor until the mid 17th century, especially in the form of cheese and butter.  It was only used amongst the upper classes for the occasional eccentricity, such as the Earl of Rutland in 1602 who was rumored as preferring to bathe in milk! 

Medieval Depiction of Dairying; Joan Thisk’s Food in Early Modern England

 

Nevertheless, the notion of the beneficial properties of milk consumption came about when it was noted of “the fair complexions and good health of those who drank milk…”  In addition, it was thought to be the source of farmers’ and servants’ ability to complete hard labor day in and day out. Often consuming the leftovers such as whey (leftover liquid from cheese-making) or buttermilk (the byproduct of butter-making), the poor found ways of making even the lowest products of the dairying process ready for consumption with a few additions such as breadcrumbs, sugar, or spices. The availability of dairying changed, however; as milk climbed in popularity amongst the elite and dairy farmers took up commercial pig-keeping, the leftover dairy that once was disappeared.  Another reason for the diminishing availability of milk was due to the enclosure of what was public grazing area during the late Tudor period (late 1500’s, early 1600’s).

Marcellus Laroon’s “Merry Milk Maid” – late 17th century

Furthermore, as the city populations began to grow (specifically in England) and keeping a cow became more inconvenient, as previously described, dairy shops took the place of local farms and milkmaids hawking their product in the streets took the place of individual household cows (Clarification: Just so nobody asks the question… no, I am NOT referring to milkmaids as cows!).  These maids would spend the day carrying pails of milk on yolks, and sometimes driving the cows themselves through the streets to be milked at your door.  This option was to bring the milk in from the surrounding countryside, although the milk lost its warmth on the way into town, whereas on-the-spot milking ensured its warmth and freshness.  

As a result of these “new” practices, cows became town animals kept in town dairies. Oftentimes the result equaled poor-tasting and poor-quality milk.  This was the result of an improper diet; the feed given to town cows often consisted of bean shells, cabbage leaves and brewers’ grain, as opposed to the preferred natural pasture grass of the countryside. Moreover, the “town milk” was of poor quality due to the processing before it was sold. Usually diluted with water, it was skimmed of all cream before it made its way into any market. It was also guaranteed to be contaminated with whatever found its way into the pails as it was carried through the busy English streets. Thus, the safest, best quality milk came straight from the country-bred cow, and this was what was desired, not only to be enjoyed as a glass of milk, but also for the dairying processes to turn the drink into proper fare.

 

~ Written by Mary Barbagallo, Intern

Edited by Hannah Howard

Further Reading:

Food and Drink in Britain – C. Anne Wilson, the Anchor Press Ltd., 1973, Great Britain

 Food in Early Modern England – Phases, Fads, Fashions 1500-1760 – Joan Thirsk, Continuum Books, 2007, New York, NY

 

 

Exploring the Artifacts: Just a Matter of Time

 

Popular from 1600 to 1650, the Lantern Clock that is located in the Governor’s Parlor of the Manor House is just one example of many that were produced during that period of time. The design, English in origin, is characteristically known for its square, lantern shape, single hand face and ornate engravings. Lantern clocks were hung on the wall and were broader than the Gothic wall clocks that were previously popular.

 

Almost entirely constructed from brass and driven by weights, Lantern clocks were modern for their time and fulfilled all the important requirements of a clock, such as keeping a time standard, having a driving force, and having a counting and indicating system.

The lantern clocks would later be replaced by the Longcase Clock (seen right and below), which became popular in the 18th century.  This later design would show off a woodworker’s skills by encasing the mechanical functions with intricately-designed panels.   

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