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Medieval Banquets

A pigs head with an apple in its mouth at a Medieval style banquet.
Pork, medieval style! ©Shutterstock / David Fowler

The family who owns Brockhampton Estate is getting their Great Hall ready for a Medieval feast. Food has been hunted and gathered, while the kitchen fires and ovens having been roaring since the day before.

The household is bustling with activity, every member knowing exactly what needs to be done to make sure this Medieval banquet is talked about for years to come.

The Great Hall

As royalty will be visiting from nearby Harvington Hall, the rushes on the floor of the Great Hall are being changed. Sweet, fresh straw has replaced the old and malodorous flooring which has been in use for some months. Herbs and flower petals will be scattered atop the straw to add a delightful fragrance.

Pewter candelabra will sport brand new candles, taken from their storage box in My Lady's chamber. A few wall torches will also be used for lighting this Medieval banquet's entertainment.

Setting the table means exactly that; great boards placed over wooden stands at each end will be set up in a square fashion. White linen from the holding cupboard will be spread over each table. The High Table will have pewter platters and goblets. For most of the guests, however, it'll be bread trenchers (large thick slices of bread) which will hold their meal. Later on, these trenchers will either be fed to the animals of the manor house, or distributed to the poor.

For the majority of the Medieval banquet guests, a simple bench will be their seat. However, for His Lordship, My Lady, and the royalty, huge chairs have been brought down from the upstairs bedchamber. A comfortable cushion has been provided for the guest of honor.

Medieval Tables
Medieval Tables ©Shutterstock / upthebanner

The Food

Thankfully, the hunt earlier in the week went very well for His Lordship. A large wild boar is now roasting on the kitchen spit, as well as a number of geese, swan, chickens, and a lambs. A few of the roasting meats will be stuffed With turnips, carrots, and parsnips brought in from the kitchen garden. There will be some vegetables on-hand. Herbs and spices, such as basil, rosemary, cinnamon, and nutmeg will also add additional flavoring.

The miller was able to provide sacks of finely-milled grain, so small rolls will accompany this meal. The manor cows have provided ample butter and cheese so that all the guests can have their fill.

Scattered about the Medieval banquet will be bowls of nuts and dried fruit. A special delicacy for His Royal Highness will be a small plate of dried figs. These were brought back to England from the Middle East by a traveling cousin.

Ale is the drink of choice, while apple cider and wine will also be available. Nobody drinks the water in these days; too often it's polluted.

Man playing medieval lute on the street
The Lute

As it is extremely difficult to preserve food, this gathering will last until all the food is gone. As is the custom, there will be nobody leaving this Medieval banquet hungry.

The Entertainment

Professional musicians have been brought in from Evesham. During the banquet, a lute (like a guitar), a dulcimer (a block and string instrument hit with small hammers), and a gemshorn (a type of flute made from the horn of an ox) will be used to provide soft background music. Once the meal is over, however, the musicians will get into full stride.

A renowned bladder piper will spring forward to the delight of His Royal Highness. This instrument has the top of a reed enclosed by an animal bladder. The player then blows into the bladder through a mouthpiece while his fingers manipulate the holes in the reed stem.

The percussion musicians will get their chance to shine. Small drums and tambourines will place the guests in the mood for the dancing which will soon follow.

Poetry readings and story tellings are all part of a Medieval banquet. Laughter is always a key ingredient in having a good time, so His Lordship's jester will provide the antics and riddles for the company.

Article by "Tudor Rose"

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