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BBC Documentaries: Season 2007

2007x39 A Tudor Feast at Christmas

  • 2007-12-23T21:00:00Z on BBC
  • 60 mins
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • Documentary, Special Interest

This special hosted by the BBC is an hour-long documentary set in Haddon Hall, in Derbyshire. Haddon Hall, started in 1195, is one of the most spectacularly preserved manors in England. Although the castle/manor has been used in literature, TV shows and movies and is currently open to visitors during part of the year, the Tudor kitchen hadn’t been used in 300 years. The team of historians and archaeologists in this fascinating documentary recreate a Tudor feast using period ingredients, recipes, kitchenware, and methods. They have three days to prepare and cook the [feast] and they use every minute.

The first thing the recreationists do is light the big ovens using flint and steel with a bit of linen to catch the flame. They gather water in wooden buckets from the stream for water. They grind up sugar blocks, spices, and knead dough for all the dishes, explaining the importance of each to the Tudor feast. We learn from the experts how a boar would have been hunted, how fish in the river would have been caught, how confections were made, and food was prepared.

They explain most of the dishes, including the boar, the peacock that has been skinned and stuffed with meat delicacies, and the desert subtlety which was gilded with gold leaf applied with a feather. They even set the feast hall and the tables as they would have in the Tudor period, and explain some table manners. Finally, the feast is enjoyed by several guests in period garb, a nice conclusion to an interesting and informative journey into the culinary past.