Tudor Food and Drink: Facts and Information

Here are some facts relating to Tudor foods, drinks, meals and feasts.

  • Vegetables were considered to be the food of the poor and were not often eaten my rich Tudors. Poor people in the Tudor period would eat vegetables, bread and whatever meat they could find, such as: rabbits, blackbirds, pheasants, partridges, hens, duck and pigeon. They also used to eat fish caught from rivers and lakes.

  • The diet of rich Tudors was based around eating meat. They would have eaten the same types of meat as listed above, but they also would have eaten more expensive meats, such as: swan, peacock, geese, boar and deer (venison).
  • Herbs were often used to flavour Tudor meals. Rich people would have had a separate herb garden to grow all of the mint, rosemary, thyme, sage and parsley they needed.
  • The Tudors ate with spoons and knives. The rich would have used spoons made of silver or pewter, and the poor would have used wooden spoons. Knives were used to cut the meat and then the pieces were eaten with fingers. Forks started to be used right at the very end of the 1500s.
  • Due to successful voyages of exploration during the Tudor period, more trade routes were established and rich Tudors were able to get their hands on more exotic foods. Foods and spices new to the Tudors, such as sugar and nutmeg were incredibly expensive and offered the rich a chance to demonstrate their wealth by using these ingredients in their meals.
  • Desserts and puddings decorated with marzipan became very fashionable during Tudor times. These were made to look like vast castles or fierce animals and made a striking focal point at Tudor feasts.
  • Tudor feasts were very lavish events. King Henry VIII often held long banquets to impress foreign visitors. These would have had many different courses and would have lasted many hours.
  • Honey was used to sweeten food and drinks. It was much cheaper than sugar and it was also used to preserve fruit for up to a year.
  • Everyone in Tudor times drank ale – even children. The rich also drank wine. Some of the wine was produced in the vineyards of south-England, but most was brought in from Europe.
  • The rich people of Tudor England would have used wine glasses. These were imported from Italy and were incredibly expensive. The poorer people would have drunk from wooden goblets.

Find out more about the Tudors.

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