Our amazing (rain-free) Holly Nights Spectacular!

We had such a wonderful time with our visitors on Holly Nights this year!!  The rain gave us a 5-hour window to enjoy our Friday night, and we were so excited to see so many visitors come out.  This has been a long-standing tradition at Pennsbury Manor for at least 30 years, and both evenings turned out to be beautiful and full of holiday spirit.

We wanted to share some awesome photos of this year’s event:

 decorations Putting up the decorations!

DSC_0065 Volunteers help offer demonstrations every year, including this fan-favorite – Pomander Balls are made by sticking organges with cloves and rolling them in a mixture of cinnamin, nutmeg, and other spices

cooking over an open hearth

 Cooking over the open-hearth for visitors – looks delicious!

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 Candlelight makes the 17th-century manor house come alive

 william penn

William Penn defeats the notorious pirate Captain Kidd in our classic 17th-century Mummer’s Play!

blacksmith

Our awesome blacksmiths working in the warmest spot on site – lucky guys, but try doing this on a hot august afternoon…

the site with luminaries

Thank you so much to everyone who came out for Holly Nights!  We had between 80 and 120 volunteers participating each night (not including all our amazing performers!), so we owe all our success to their dedication and joyful holiday spirit.

Have a wonderful holiday season and we look forward to blogging with you in the New Year!

 

By Hannah Howard

Photographs courtesy of Tabitha Dardes, PR, and Joseph Long, volunteer

Confessions of a Costumier: Dressing the Community Leaders

Throughout the year we’ve been celebrating the unique clothing of the various peoples living and visiting Pennsbury Manor in the late 17th century.  After featuring the Laborers and the Servants/Tradespeople, we can highlight the Community Leaders! 

This painting by Matthijs Naiveu, “The Cloth Shop,” 1709 depicts two different couples. The couple in the foreground is obviously from a wealthy and aristocratic background. The business owners in the background have a more limited but substantial position in the community. Their clothing modeled the rich textiles they might sell.

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Confessions of a Costumier: Dressing the Tradespeople

Following our 17th-century Fashion Show last spring, I posted an article highlighting the Laborers and their clothing – next up are the Servants & Tradespeople!

These men and women did not have to break their backs in the fields or peddling wares on the streets, but they still lived a humble life.  Perhaps they performed a trade, like turning table legs in a Joyner’s shop, or worked as a housemaid on a large estate like Pennsbury Manor.  Perhaps after saving their wages, they would have enough to purchase a small farm or open their own shop.  They had enough to live on, but their modest clothing reflected their lower station in society. 

Pennsbury volunteers Valerie and Joseph Long are pictured here modeling appropriate ensembles.  Valerie is wearing the latest in 17th-century gowns: the Mantua (featured in a previous post).  Her gown is a modest cut and color, and the fine wool fabric would last a long time.   Her serviceable coif may not have been the latest style in caps, but it kept the hair off her face while she worked. 

Just like his wife, Joe’s simple linen waistcoat and justacorps (also featured previously) was fashionable yet serviceable.  Linen is a hard-wearing fabric that would last, which is important when every piece of clothing you buy is an investment.  Tradesmen like Joe would dress informally when working in their workshops – shops were for manufacturing, not selling; that would happen at a store or at least a separate room at the front of the building.  But when walking through town, he would still want to look like a man of business and stature. 

Notice this housemaid’s appearance – her clothing is made of high-quality fabrics but in a simple style, and she obviously keeps them clean and in good repair. John Roley, “Bridget Holmes, a Nonagenarian Housemaid,” 1686

A person’s outward image was a reflection of their status in society and served as a walking advertisement to others on how to treat you.  Earlier in the 17th century, English law actually restricted what people could wear based on their social class.  But as the gentry class increasingly sold their clothes to secondhand shops in order to fund their new, more fashionable wardrobes, the lower classes began to buy those high-quality garments.  In wearing these gently-used pieces, just a fraction of the price for new clothes, they started looking just as nice as their employers.  The gentry were NOT HAPPY and wrote in their letters and journals how frustrating it was when the maid looked just like the mistress!

Marcellus Laroon, “Old chairs to mend,” published late 17th-century.

 

Written by Hannah Howard, Volunteer Coordinator & Costumier

 

**You might be wondering why our models don’t have any shoes on in these pictures?  That’s because we haven’t been able to afford any.  We are fundraising to purchase reproduction shoes, since a costumed interpreter in sneakers ruins the whole atmosphere…  To help out, you can visit our official website www.pennsburymanor.org and click the “Donate Now” button at the bottom.**

William’s World: We’re So Cheesy

Aelbert Cyup, “The Dairy Maid,” 1650s

We’ve been recently discussing just how important dairying was, first as a career for the idyllic milkmaids and as a country business that was transported into towns (resulting in a more convenient, but poorer quality product).  As those articles said, there were a number of ways to prepare milk to be turned into various food resources. Today, cheese is a highly popular product (and a great way to preserve milk long-term), but it wasn’t always so fashionable!

Volunteer interpreters Susan PLaisted and Joan Healy prepare to drain the whey from cheese curds at Pennsbury Manor.

A large amount of milk went into cheese making. Although dairy did take its role at the table of the 15th and 16th-century elite in a number of forms (of which the five most common were cream, curds, milk, buttermilk, and whey), the one seen at their table least was cheese.   Cheese evolved from being a resource associated with poverty to being a sought-after staple for all social classes.

The main change that occurred in favor of cheese took place in the 1650’s when cheese became the primary reliance of the English army’s soldiers in Ireland.  Also used to feed servants or humbler guests, it was also found on ships because it lasted without deterioration, and thus it was a good option to send with both sailors and troops.

The whey is allowed to drain from the cheese curds, then the bundle is poured into a cheesemold and wrapped with a linen cloth. Cheese needs to be rotated and maintained regularly while being cured, or the liquid will settle on one side and will turn bad.

 Further support for the consumption of dairy in the form of cheese came about as Englishmen saw cheese savored at the tables of high-ranking society members abroad. Initially startling the English elite, especially if served toasted and not cold, cheese eventually took hold at their table. This was especially so as the milk industry boomed and the different counties of England began refining the cheese making process to produce various types include what would be most similar to that of a sharp cheddar today. And, although the outcome was surely delicious, the process behind cheese making is less appealing.

Calve’s stomach, which was required every spring for cheese-making.

Firstly, “a suckling calf’s stomach- bag was the usual source of rennet” (rennet-a dried extract made from the stomach lining of a ruminant, used to curdle milk).  As a result cheese was made during the spring when a single calf could be sacrificed for the sake of cheese making and milk would be abundant. In conjunction, the process of cheese making was something simple that could be done at the home if you owned a household cow. Likewise, there was no need for special expensive equipment and the milk could be processed quickly.  The resulting cheese making industry soon grew too and frequented the spring with the annual cheese making processes.

Come see Pennsbury Manor’s upcoming Cooking Demonstration next Sunday, July 15th from 1:00-4:00pm!

Flrois Claesz van Dijck, “Still-Life with Fruit, Nuts, and Cheese,” 1613

By Mary Barbagallo, Intern

Photographs by Hannah Howard, Volunteer Coordinator

 

Sources

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

The American Heritage Dictionary, Second College Edition – Houghton Mifflin, 1985, Boston, MA

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

 

 

Confessions of a Costumier: Dressing the Laborers

About a month has passed since our 17th-Century Fashion Show, and we had such an amazing time!!!  A HUGE thank-you goes out to our lovely volunteer models (L-R) Mike Thomforde, Maggie Brosz, Joe Long, Valerie Long, Steve Ringel, Melissa Dill, Ron Matlack, and Judith Kirby.  Don’t they look great??

I finally have some time to begin sharing what was discussed during the program.  We covered SO MUCH about the evolution of clothes in the 17th century, but what I want to highlight most is the diversity in society.  I previously posted a teaser of these various styles, and it’s an important step in the evolution of our living history programs.  Fashions changed not just for the aristocracy, but all the lower classes as well.  A colorful range of people would have lived and worked in colonial Pennsylvania, and we strongly believe all those people should be represented at Pennsbury Manor.  This includes showing the variations in their wardrobe!

So today we begin with the lower class of residents at Pennsbury: The Laborers.  Whether you were plowing the field, tending the kitchen garden, or churning butter in the dairy, your clothes needed to be practical.  Below you see Mike and Maggie modeling appropriate ensembles.  Compare them with the 17th-century drawings by Marcellus Laroon, which depict the poor street cryers in late 17th-century London:

Outdoor laborers would have needed to dress for the weather and conditions required of their jobs.  While they might have a better set of clothes for Sundays or special occasions, out in the fields their attire had to be sturdy and comfortable.  Mike is modeling a shirt, coat, and breeches which are all linen and obviously too big to be made for him specifically.  He could have received hand-me-downs or bought clothes secondhand from a street cryer or ready-made from a store.  His monmouth cap was a universal style worn by land laborers and sailors alike for centuries.  If performing a dirtier job, he would don an apron like the one seen below on the vinegar-seller. 

 

 

 

Just like Mike, Maggie is dressed to tackle the hard jobs all laboring women would face depending on the season.  She might spend her days washing clothes, tending the Kitchen Garden and animals, brewing beer, or preparing meals at the hearth.  The older style of short gown, rather than the more recent mantua style (seen in a previous post), would have been safer for working around fires and less cumbersome when laboring in the garden or stable.  Her apron is made of a spare piece of rough linen and kerchief tucked into her bodice and out of the way.  The only sign of fashion is the striped linen petticoat. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**You might be wondering why our models don’t have any shoes on in these pictures?  That’s because we haven’t been able to afford any.  We are fundraising to purchase reproduction shoes, because an interpreter in sneakers ruins the whole atmosphere created by historical dress, am I right??  To help out, you can visit our official website www.pennsburymanor.org and click the “Donate Now” button at the bottom.**

 

Written by Hannah Howard, Volunteer Coordinator & Costumier

Living the Life of a 17th-Century Farmer

Last weekend, during our annual Spring Interpreter training, I shared an amazing  BBC mini-series on 17th-century farm life, and I wanted to make sure everyone else got to hear about it too! 

(I’ve actually already shared it a couple of times on this blog, including a recent article about stuffing straw mattresses.  But this is a tv series any history buff should not miss, so I couldn’t resist re-posting a link!!)

The series, called Tales From the Green Valley, follows 5 historians and archaeologists as they live on a real 17th-century Welsh farm and perform the daily activities required to survive.  Unfortunately the series is not available on DVD in US-format, but luckily all 12 episodes are available onDaily Motion:*

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xqprv1_e1-tales-from-the-green-valley_lifestyle 

These 12 episodes, one for every month of the year, offers a marvelous inside look at the daily lives of Stuart-era English farmers.  They follow the agricultural year and show how much life was influenced by the seasons, in ways that modern society hardly notices anymore. 

Throughout the year, we’ll be sharing more posts on seasonal activities, so stay tuned!

Hannah Howard

Volunteer Coordinator

 

*No copyright infringement intended, used for purely educational purposes