© 2015 techyta

Historic Holdenby House

Holdenby House is a historic country house in Northamptonshire and as part our school term project around the Tudor period we spent the day experiencing what it would have been like to have lived their back in the mid to late 1500s. The house was owned by Sir Christopher Hatton who was an English politician, Lord Chancellor of England and a favourite of Elizabeth I of England.

Once the keepers of the house had addressed us, and berated some of us, for ‘having no hands’ we split up in to four groups and went our separate ways. Those lucky enough to be with Mr Oakley (!) went straight to Archery practice where the order of the day was to try and take down a boar which used to be a native to the area 500 years ago. Fortunately, for the wild pig, being nailed to a large piece of wood (it was just a picture by the way) it was initially in little danger of being on a plate at the end of the day. However, practice being what it is, after a while a few arrows began to find their way home and we may have been lucky enough to eat that night. Had it been 1556 and not just a picture.

Onwards across the courtyard and into the main house where we were met by our dance instructor! There was to be no <insert current popular dance craze> to be had here. Instead the art of ‘promenading’ was bestowed upon us and after some expert tuition we sailed elegantly backwards and forwards across the hall with our partner’s hands held high.

After hunting and dancing it was time for cooking and we headed further into the great house to be met by Sir Christopher’s cook. First order of the day was to make the flour for the bread using a process called ‘bolting’ which involved shaking a cloth containing ground grain over a bowl allowing the flour to fall through the fine weave of the cloth. Apparently, someone would have had to do this for hours at a time, just to make enough flour needed (or is that kneaded..!!) for the day.

We started to make a pottage which is a type of stew made from vegetables and grain. And, if they were lucky, meat or fish but this was not always the case. With all the ovens going at the same time it must have been very hot in the kitchen all day as they never turned them off. Probably the best place to be in winter though.

Luckily for us, we had brought our own lunch and moved to another part of the house where we sat down to eat it.

After lunch we had go at writing our own official letters which we secured with a seal to make sure they where not tampered with. Melting wax from a candle over the edges of a rolled up letter and imprinting it with a unique mark means that nobody else could change or read what we had written without breaking the seal.

We had an exciting day at Holdenby House and it gave us a great insight into how it must have been to live in the house over 500 years ago.