Historical rabbit holes, for those who are inclined.
These slender booklets from Historical Management Associates are the work of an organization dedicated to historical re-enactment in the UK. They are written with a stickler’s attention to historical precision and a conviction that nothing is too arcane to investigate. Some of the books are simple transcriptions of period manuscripts; others represent significant original research, as in Cattle Farming and Grazing Management, which is 52 pages long but cites 36 sources, many of them published in the 17th century.
The Food and Cookery in Elizabethan and Early Stuart England series presents a systematic survey of existing records of ingredients and equipment employed in the period. In addition to concise explanations of how such items might have been used and how they might have been significantly different from what is implied by current terminology, they include citations from various period and later records to demonstrate the geographic and class distribution of everything from hops to decorative tankards.
From the text of Dining Room Equipment:
“The term ‘Dining Room’ covers a multitude of sins and where you ate depended on the socio-economic status of the diner. For the poor in a cottage or almshouse which might contain only a bed chamber, a store room and a general living room the dining room is also the kitchen and living room and the furniture will be multipurpose. In a large elite household such as Thomas Smythe’s house at Ashton Court near Bristol there were 37 inhabitants. These appear to dine in 4 different groups…”
Staplebound pamphlet. 52 pages. Sketches and black-and-white photographs.