Completing the Tudor picture…

So, what personal accessories might a Tudor lady have? When I was a Living History re-enactor at Kentwell Hall’s Tudor re-creations, I had a basket, a bag and a belt for carrying everything I was likely to need for the day. Modern items were concealed beneath a cloth on my basket. My eating and drinking utensils lived in either my basket or my coarse-weave shoulder bag, and smaller items were suspended from my belt.

You may not approve of everything I carried around with me, but I was really trying to get into the Tudor mind-set and truth was, a lot of people were superstitious, particularly in rural communities. Hence the lucky rabbit’s foot. There is also a mole’s “spade” in the photo, worn for its healing properties. I assure you, both animals had died of natural causes before the items were taken. We didn’t like to waste ANYTHING.

You can see in the photo the Tudor “turnshoes” made for me by my wonderful partner, Tim, who taught himself the art of shoemaking and cobbling. He had to do a lot of that at his very first Kentwell because the weather was so wet, everyone’s homemade shoes kept falling apart!

You will also see my coin purse, known as a hanging pocket. Pockets as we know them today weren’t really “in” until later in the Sixteenth century. I suspended both pocket and lucky animal feet from my belt with leather loops.

Also in the photo is a rosary. This is an exact replica of one found on the Mary Rose, Henry VIII’s favourite battleship, which sank in the Solent in 1545. By that time, such symbols of the Catholic faith were not commonly found amongst Englishmen. Catholicism returned with Queen Mary in 1553 but became increasingly unwelcome under Elizabeth 1st, and you would do well to keep any Catholic sympathies well-hidden, or risk inquisition by Sir Francis Walsingham and his spy network.

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