Tag Archives: PKM

A King’s Banquet

Whether it be College catering, or spicy titbits from our rare books and early printed music, there is a feast of food-related material in the King’s College special collections. We table here an exhibition of serious, as well as fun, documents covering five hundred years of food at King’s. From food fights to food scarcity, the salutary effect of warm beer, or the economics of the price of corn, the special collections are sure to have something to satisfy any appetite!

the price of wheat

During the years between 1799 and 1801 widespread rioting broke out throughout England, mostly about the scarcity of food and soaring prices of bread. The cost of a loaf of bread was at an all-time high of 1 shilling and 9 pence. This was caused in part by a series of poor harvests as a result of unseasonally bad weather in England and equally poor harvests in Europe which limited imports. Sir Gilbert Blane (1749–1834) deals with the causes and remedies in his inquiry in 1800. Trained as a physician, we can perhaps be forgiven a wry (or even rye?) smile when we learn that Blane had previously been the personal physician to Admiral Sir George Rodney (1718–1792) on board HMS Sandwich!

Gilbert Blane, Inquiry into the causes and remedies of the late and present scarcity and high price of provisions (London, 1817) (Shelfmark: Keynes.A.10.16.(10.)). Title page

Blane, Inquiry into the causes and remedies of the late and present scarcity and high price of provisions. Summary

That particular volume came to King’s as part of the antiquarian book collection bequeathed by John Maynard Keynes. He was First Bursar (Financial Officer) at King’s from 1924 to 1944, and converted our land-based endowment to a stock portfolio. His predecessor bursars had to maximise the income from our land holdings, and compiled tables of the prices of wheat and malt during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

‘Prices of Malt clear of the Excise Duty with the Mean Prices’, January 1782-October 1806 (Ref: KCE/1060)

‘Prices of Wheat with the Mean Prices’, January 1782-October 1806 (Ref: KCE/1060)

The price of wheat per quarter (1/4 of a ton) ranged from just under 1 pound per quarter in the early eighteenth century, to well over 5 pounds in January 1796, and was in the 7-8 pounds per quarter range in the winter and spring of 1800-1801. The 1799–1801 scarcity came at the end of a decade of bad harvests and hard winters—the problem was not so much that the rioters were fed up, as that they were not fed up!

Charles Simeon. Etching by an unknown artist (undated) (Ref: KCAC/1/4/Simeon/2)

King’s did what it could towards poor relief. During the 1788 famine Charles Simeon (1759–1836, KC 1779) ‘organized a [University] subscription to enable bread to be sold at half-price in Cambridge and twenty-four neighbouring villages and rode round on horseback each Monday to make sure that the bakers were doing this.'[ODNB] In 1795 King’s College fellows were again occupied with poor relief. It was ‘agreed that ten guineas be given between the parishes of Grantchester Coton and Barton to be distributed at the discretion of Mr Simeon.’

Governing Body minutes, 16 January 1795 (Ref: KCGB/4/1/1/2)

We are not exempt from scarcity even in modern times. During World War II the College accommodated some of the Dunkirk evacuees, followed by an RAF transport unit, a quantity of relocated Queen Mary’s College students and faculty, and a miscellany of American and British military men in various stages of training. The acting bursar GHW ‘Dadie’ Rylands had to deal with the problems of rationing: an allowance of only half a sausage per head per week!

Part of a letter from the Acting Bursar to Sainsbury’s, about rationed meat (carbon copy), 14 November 1941 (Ref: KCAR/3/1/1/11)

Luckily for King’s we had enough space for a kitchen garden. Despite reduced staff, in 1941 the head gardener ‘produced large quantities of tomatoes, lettuces, onions, and savoys for use in Hall. ‘ In 1945 he supplied 550 pounds of tomatoes and 57 dozen lettuces.

Entry from George Salt’s college gardens journal, 1941 (Ref: GS/2/5 p 75)

Entry from George Salt’s college gardens journal, 1945 (Ref: GS/2/5 page 92)

what they ate

Go back a couple of centuries before the wheat shortage, however, and according to Robert Speed’s The Counter Scuffle (1621) there was plenty of food to waste! This publication was one of the most influential mock poems of the time and went through 19 editions by the end of the seventeenth century. It tells the story of a food fight which broke out during a Lent dinner in the Wood Street Counter, a debtors’ prison. At the end of the fight, the prison keeper is found hiding under a table with his clothes and codpiece stuffed with food!

Robert Speed, The Counter Scuffle (London, 1648). (Shelfmark: Thackeray.J.65.48). Title page

Speed, The Counter Scuffle. Part of the description of the food

Speed, The Counter Scuffle. Part of the description of the fight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The foodstuffs being thrown around the prison dining hall are the same as King’s fellows and scholars were eating about 40 years earlier. The College’s dining accounts for 16-19 October 1579 list various types of fish (ling, plaice, tench, and pickerel–but no eels or herring), mutton and loin of veal, and the ‘flesh’ included beef, rabbits, pigeons, and chickens. The College also purchased milk, butter, eggs, pepper, sugar, currants, dates, cinnamon, cloves and mace during those days. Other pages in the accounts record the purchase of mustard. (See The Potticaries Bill blog and an article about early dining practices at King’s for more details).

College dining accounts for 16–19 October 1579 (Ref: KCAR/4/1/6/19 opening 276)

One would never catch Oxbridge dons engaging in such puerile behaviour as displayed in The Counter Scuffle, however. Why play or fight with your food when you can be academic about it? It is hard to imagine that the humble sausage would inspire a volume of poetry, but that is exactly what happened when Thomas Warton (1728–1790), sometime Poet Laureate and friend of Dr Johnson, put together his volume of poetry The Oxford Sausage in 1764 whilst he was Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford. Here we have his new edition ‘adorned with cuts, engraved in a new taste, and designed by the best masters.’ The volume’s engraved frontispiece depicts Mrs Dorothy Spreadbury, the inventress of the Oxford sausage. There is apparently some doubt about the authenticity of this claim, but who would be so bold as to challenge such a formidable-looking lady!

The Oxford sausage: or, Select poetical pieces, written by the most celebrated wits of the University of Oxford (Oxford, 1777) (Shelfmark: Chawner.A.5.105). Title page.

The Oxford sausage. Frontispiece showing Mrs Dorothy Spreadbury.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Over 50 years later in 1823 Cambridge decided it needed to acknowledge Oxford’s Sausage: ‘Oxford has its sausage, and why not Cambridge its tart?’ reads the preface to The Cambridge Tart, a volume of ‘epigrammatic and satiric-poetical effusions dainty morsels, served up by Cantabs, on various occasions’ put together by Richard Gooch (1791–1849) in 1823 under the pseudonym ‘Socius’. The engraved frontispiece depicts a baked tart, framed by laurel wreaths, a lyre and a mortarboard!

The Cambridge tart: epigrammatic and satiric-poetical effusions; &c. &c. Dainty morsels, served up by Cantabs, on various occasions. Dedicated to the members of the University of Cambridge / By Socius (London, 1823) (Shelfmark: P.25.13). Title page

The Cambridge tart. Opening

The Cambridge tart. Opening

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

what they drank

Of course with your sausage you need something to drink, perhaps a nice chilled beer on a summer’s day? Even better, a nice warm beer, perhaps, as the writer of this little treatise explains to us the ‘many reasons that beere so qualified is farre more wholsome than that which is drunke cold’. It is a most serious subject indeed, with chapters that explain ‘that actuall hot drink doth quench the thirst as well as cold drink, or better’ and ‘the hurt that ariseth from the use of actuall cold drink’ and ‘the benefit that ariseth from the use of actuall hot drink’.

Warme beere, or, A treatise wherein is declared by many reasons that beere so qualified is farre more wholsome then that which is drunke cold (Cambridge, 1641) (Shelfmark: Thackeray.J.66.45). Title page

King’s had its own brewer, and brewery, for several hundred years. They brewed six barrels of ale at a time, and two of small beer.

College brewing numbers (undated) (Ref: KCAR/3/1/3/4 – memo on brewing)

John Pontifex (self-styled Coppersmith, Back-Maker, Brewer’s Millwright and Brewer’s Architect) sold us a six barrel brewer in 1829. It took three pages to describe it completely and it cost a shilling short of 213 pounds.

Part of an invoice for the brewing equipment purchased by King’s College from John Pontifex, 1829 (Ref: KCA/723)

 

Plan of the brewhouse of King’s College, by Richard Woods (undated) (Ref: KCD/365)

There was a fire in the brewhouse in 1871, and in 1881 the College voted to stop brewing its own beer. Two years later the brewhouse was converted to kitchen offices.

On the subject of brewing—hot drinks this time—we turn now to tea, coffee and chocolate. All were relatively new arrivals in Europe in the seventeenth century when Philippe Sylvestre Dufour (1622–1687) published his treatise De l’usage du caphé, du thé, et du chocolat. Here we have the latin translation of that work which appeared in Paris in 1685. It includes a separate treatise on each of the three drinks, under the title Tractatus novi de potu caphé; de Chinesium thé; et de chocolata. Each treatise includes a splendid engraved frontispiece depicting the origins of each drink. It is thought to be the first work in any language to describe all these new beverages in Europe.

Philippe Sylvestre Dufour, Tractatus novi de potu caphé; de Chinesium thé; et de chocolate (Paris, 1685) (Shelfmark: Thackeray.J.47.33). Title page

Dufour, Tractatus novi de potu caphé; de Chinesium thé; et de chocolate. Frontispiece

 

Dufour, Tractatus novi de potu caphé; de Chinesium thé; et de chocolate. Frontispiece to the chocolate treatise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dufour, Tractatus novi de potu caphé; de Chinesium thé; et de chocolate. Frontispiece to the tea treatise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DRINKING SONGS

Would the King’s Dining Hall have ever resounded with drinking songs? Probably not, because the Founder’s statutes dictated that conversation in the Hall be conducted in Latin ‘unless a reasonable cause requires otherwise’, and always in a ‘modest and courtly’ fashion. Theological tracts were to be read at dinner, in good monastic style.

But such strictures don’t govern the College’s Rowe Music Library which has more than its fair share of music related to food and drink. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, one of the most common forms of popular song was the catch, a type of round. So-called catch and glee clubs sprang up in towns and cities, populated by men who liked to combine singing with feasting. While many catches of this period were bawdy in nature, at least as common was the subject of food and drink, with Henry Purcell, the greatest English composer of his generation, contributing to the repertoire such gems as ‘I gave her cakes and I gave her ale’, ‘He that drinks is immortal’ and ‘Wine in a morning makes us frolic and gay’. This catch in praise of punch is by Thomas Tudway (c. 1650–1726), organist of King’s College from 1670 until his death. The ‘S’ mark on the second stave shows the point at which the second voice should enter.

Thomas Tudway, ‘A Catch upon a Liquor call’d Punch’, in The Second Book of the Catch Club or Merry Companions (London, c. 1731) (Shelfmark: Rw.112.77)

The song sheet was ubiquitous in the early eighteenth century, with prints of love songs and operatic arias both available in abundance. This perhaps understandably anonymous song, ‘The Double Entendre’, appears at first sight to be about a maiden drinking a glass of wine, but each verse leaves open the possibility of a double meaning at the end of its third line, before things are resolved (after a pause and a playful ‘tal-lal-lal-lal’) with propriety. This song contains an optional flute part doubling the melody printed at the bottom, a practice common at the time.

‘The Double Entendre’ (London, c. 1730) (Shelfmark: Rw.110.25/71)

good taste

When it comes to sharing food with others one should properly consider etiquette. John Tresidder Sheppard (1881–1968, KC 1900, Provost 1933–54) was elected to the debating society known as The Cambridge Apostles in 1902. In 1903 he presented a paper styled ‘May we eat cheese with a knife?’ in which he considered, among other things, the question of bad manners. He opined that vulgarity of manners is due to the shock that others experience when witnessing, for example, ‘the knife-tip in the mouth’ rather than that the person committing the offense, or the offense itself, is somehow inherently vulgar.

Paper read by JT Sheppard to the Apostles, 6 June 1903 (Ref: JTS/1/3/2). Page 1

Paper read by JT Sheppard to the Apostles (Ref: JTS/1/3/2). Pages 5-6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Apostles gave their customary impenetrable vote on his question:

Apostles’ vote on Sheppard’s paper, 6 June 1903 (Ref: KCAS/39/1/14)

how they made it

Another Kingsman, Osbert Burdett (1885–1936, KC 1903) also took the subject of cheese rather seriously. He wrote books about Blake and Gladstone (among others) as well as his rather humorous book A Little Book of Cheese which surveys English and foreign cheeses, shares some recipes and also incorporates tantalising titbits about the monstrous nature of smoking whilst enjoying cheese, all the while presenting us with curious facts such as which cheese was Thomas Hardy’s favourite!

Osbert Burdett, A Little Book of Cheese (London: Howe, 1935) (Shelfmark: UXL PSU Bur). Title page

Osbert Burdett, A Little Book of Cheese. Introduction

Osbert Burdett, A Little Book of Cheese. Page 87

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, cheese is all very good, but what if you have a sweet tooth? In this charming little book, the Banbury cake—one of the more erudite cakes that we have—tells its own story! Banbury cakes have been made in Banbury in Oxfordshire since the sixteenth century. During the eighteenth century the recipe had become more similar to Eccles cakes, but had originally enjoyed a filling of currants, mixed peel, brown sugar, rum and nutmeg encased in an oval of pastry. Appropriate for afternoon tea, and often stocked in railway stations as well as being sent as far afield as Australia and America, Banbury cakes were also presented to Queen Victoria on her way to Balmoral each August.

The History of a Banbury Cake: an entertaining book for children (Banbury, 1830s) (Shelfmark: Rylands.C.Banb). Title page

The History of a Banbury Cake. Preface and Opening

Staying with children’s literature, here we have the first edition of Beatrix Potter’s story The Pie and the Patty-Pan, which tells the story of a cat called Ribby who invites a dog named Duchess for afternoon tea, for whom Ribby bakes a mouse pie. The book remained one of Potter’s favourites, and the illustrations are considered to be some of her most beautiful.

Beatrix Potter, The Pie and the Patty-Pan (London, 1905) (Shelfmark: Rylands.C.Pot.Pie.1905.a). Title page

Potter, The Pie and the Patty-Pan. Ribby baking the pie made of mouse.

Potter, The Pie and the Patty-Pan. Description of the pie made of mouse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OK, that’s quite enough frivolity: time to get serious. Only the most ardent researcher of food history would attempt this enormous tome (852 pages) all about the techniques and history of canning food! That being said, it includes fascinating morsels about one of the most important men in the history of preserving food from whose research we have all benefited. Nicolas Appert (1749–1841), known as ‘the father of canning’, devised his new method for conserving foods by experimenting with placing them in air-tight glass jars that were then subject to heat. He published his results in 1810 in Paris as L’Art de conserver, pendant plusieurs années, toutes les substances animales et végétales. We’re sure many a feast has been had throughout the country after the shops have closed by raiding the back of the larder for tins of preserved food!

AW Bitting, Appertizing; or, The art of Canning; Its History and Development by A.W. Bitting (San Fransisco, 1937) (Shelfmark: CXM T Bit). Title page

Nicolas Appert (1749–1841)

Facsimile title page of Nicolas Appert’s treatise L’Art de Conserver (Paris, 1810)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One cannot have a discussion about food without mentioning Apicius. Also known as De re culinaria or De re coquinaria (On the Subject of Cooking), Apicius is a collection of Roman recipes, thought to have been compiled in the first century AD. It has been attributed to various historical figures named Apicius, including the gourmet Marcus Gavius Apicius, although the connection is impossible to prove. The first printed edition appeared in Milan in 1498. Our edition, of which only 100 copies were printed, dates from 1709 and includes a commentary by Martin Lister (1639–1712), the English physician and naturalist, who related the material in the original work to medicine and healing.

Apicii Coelii De opsoniis et condimentis: sive arte coquinaria, libri decem. cum annotationibus Martini Lister (Amsterdam, 1709) (Shelfmark: M.37.52). Title page

Apicii Coelii De opsoniis et condimentis. Engraved frontispiece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting down to the nitty gritty of making food at King’s, bear in mind that the cooks were preparing food for around 100 fellows, scholars, choristers, lay clerks, chaplains and servants. Judging by the inventories, they seem to have had to do so in a kitchen less well-equipped than most modern British households. The kitchen inventory for 1598 (updated in 1605) notes 8 pots and pans with only 2 lids (for oven cooking), with the various necessary ironwork and tripods for suspending them over the fire (admittedly not part of most modern kitchens), a single set of bellows and tongs (the coal rake went missing sometime between 1598 and 1605), 4 skillets, 2 grills and an iron peele (for putting things into the oven and retrieving them again). There were only 2 ladles and 2 cooking spoons listed, 2 knives and a cleaver, a single colander and a grater. There was a mortar and pestle and also a querne for grinding the mustard. The food had to fit on 3 meat serving plates and 14 pie plates but there were dozens of other dishes and platters. Storage consisted of two large lead cisterns (presumably for water), a box (presumably wooden) for oatmeal and various probably wooden pails and tubs. What did they want with a wheelbarrow?

The King’s College kitchen inventory for 1598 and 1605 (Ref: KCAR/4/1/5/5, opening 19)

The brewhouse inventory in that same volume lists mash vats, wort vats, coolers, tuns, a fire fork and coal rake, pails, copper kettles and funnels, a pair of scales, 2 bushel baskets and a French fan, a hops basket and a horsemill. The bakery was equipped with, among other things, 2 stonking lead weights of 100 pounds each, and 2 smaller weights of 24 pounds each. 

Where they got it

Who supplied our brewer and baker? An early College experiment with self-sufficiency in the form of a home farm in Grantchester had proven non-viable and certainly by 1570 the College got much of its wheat and malt as rent from our properties (endowed at the College’s foundation or acquired later), or bought it in the Cambridge markets and fairs. The cost depended upon whether it was delivered to College or not, and whether the barley was malted or not (we had a malt house) but it was definitely ground in the College’s mill house by the College’s mill horse. For example, one Grantchester tenant had to provide from his holding an annual rent of 40 shillings in addition to ‘halfe a quarter of good and marchandizable wheate sweete cleane and well dressed and three quarters & a halfe of good & marchandizable malt of Barley well dried and cleene, eight to be allowed by the [College] bruer to be delivered yearley’ to the College during Michaelmas term.

Part of a lease between King’s College and Otewell Hill for land in Grantchester, 2 October 1585 (Ref: KCAR/3/3/1/1/2, page 373)

For meat and fruit, by the late sixteenth century the College had an orchard, a swan house and a pigeon house. Beef, like malt and wheat, was sometimes part of the rent due to us. For example the tenant at Prescot in Lancashire had to deliver ’12 fatt oxen, of a lardge bone, soe that the Bulke or Fower quarters of every of the said Twelve Oxen, killed [and with the organs removed], shall weigh ffortie Stone at the least … or else … Twentie pounds of good & Lawfull money of England, in lieu & full recompense’.

Part of a lease between King’s College and Charles Lord Strang (son and heir apparent to the Earl of Derby), 15 May 1649. (Ref: KCAR/3/3/1/1/5 fo 76v)

Large quantities of mutton and beef were also purchased: in the 1579–80 financial year for example, 1,757 stone of beef was bought (equivalent to over 10,000 kg) as well as about 750 sheep. 800 cod, 15 lings and two barrels of preserved herring were bought, and expenses for veal, milk, rabbits, pork, chickens and eggs all appear at feast times in the dining accounts, so apparently the College had no fish ponds, dairy herds, coney warrens, pigsties and/or hen houses. At least in 1533 we had bees, because we repaid the Vice-Provost 2 shillings 8 pence for bee skeps (skepes pro apibus) and clay vessels (vasilibus luteis).

Beekeeping expenses in the annual accounts for late summer 1533 (Ref: KCAR/4/1/1/10, exp. nec.)

Vegetables possibly came from a kitchen garden. Certainly there was a kitchen garden by 1899, and at some point pigs had been introduced: ‘The produce of our 2 kitchen gardens (about 7 acres) and orchard (about 1 acre – very poor) … includes early + late vinery, tomato + cucumber houses, greenhouses + forcing pits … all the plant houses have been rebuilt one by one since I took then over in 1893 and the orchard has been largely replanted. Pigs were formerly a great feature but I have abolished them … I recommend tomatos strongly – not cucumbers … Grape growing cannot be done cheaply on a small scale … The great use of the garden is to supply vegetables quite fresh and in variety. For instance except in full summer quite fresh salads are scarcely to be bought, and even then there is little but cos lettuce.’

Pages from a letter to the Bursar from the Head Gardener (25 May 1899) (Ref: KCD/26 pages 1, 4, 5, 6)

That’s the final course of our offerings at this sitting.

Bon appétit!

an invitation

The special collections are open to visitors by appointment. For further information email library@kings.cam.ac.uk or archivist@kings.cam.ac.uk.

Further Reading

Purchases of food are listed in the Commons Books (described here) and the Mundum Books (described here).

Copies of leases are found in the Ledger Books (described here).

For a discussion of the price of wheat around 1900, see Minchinton, W. E. “Agricultural Returns and the Government during the Napoleonic Wars.” The Agricultural History Review, vol. 1, no. 1, 1953, pp. 29–43.

This exhibition is part of the 2021 Open Cambridge Festival on the 2021 Heritage Open Day theme of ‘Edible England’. Details of all the other events can be found at https://www.opencambridge.cam.ac.uk/events

 

GB/JC/PKM

In tempore pestis

Plague in 1532-3

Charles Creighton’s A History of Epidemics in England has a chapter on plague in the Tudor period. There was scarcely a year without an outbreak between 1511 and 1538. King Henry VIII’s restless travelling between royal houses was driven by his fear of plague and the English Sweat. The universities went in fear too. Local outbreaks in Cambridge in 1532 and Oxford in 1533 hit the universities hard.

According to the Annals of Cambridge, in 1532 the Fellows, Scholars, and Bachelors of St John’s College were absent ‘in Easter term, during which, for fear of the plague, they had dwelt in the country’. And some time during the 1532-3 financial year (financial years began, as did academic years, at Michaelmas on September 29), the town of Cambridge paid 5 shillings to ‘John Blonnfeld yoman of the Kyngs garde cummyng in massage to enquir whether that the plage reynyid in Cambrigge or no’. The answer was not recorded, but the King’s College accounts suggest that it did.

Two entries in the accounts record payments for people to go out and retrieve choristers, or at least young boys. Bowers (p 266) says in 1542 another boy similarly had to be retrieved, so this was not unheard of, nor necessarily entirely attributable to the plague. The first payment was ‘extra duty’ pay to a Chapel clerk called Malard:

Extract from ‘Feoda et Regarda’ for 1532-3 [KCAR/4/1/1/10]

Item solutum vjo die novembris malard clerico exeuns pro choristis  ij s

Also, paid on 6 November to Malard, clerk, going out for choristers   2 s

Whether Malard was recovering boys trying to escape home away from the plague, or having to recruit new choristers, is not clear.

It is interesting to speculate about the relationship of this Malard to a Mallard, not a member of the College, who was one of three supplementary payees for the 22 March exequies (for more on the exequies, see below).

Payments for exequies, for 22 March 1532-3 [KCAR/4/1/1/10]

This is the other occasion where a young boy had to be retrieved:

Extract from ‘Custus Equitantum’ for 1532-3 [KCAR/4/1/1/10]

Item solutum pro expencis hanckocson equitandi ad ware ultimo die Augusti pro puero faciente fugam        xx d

Also, paid for expenses for Hanckocson riding to Ware on the last day of August for the boy who fled          20 d

A news story published by Gonville and Caius College this past April notes that they locked their College gates in times of plague. We may  not have been quite so rigid in 1532, as the accounts note a payment to someone who brought the money from one of our Lincolnshire estates but – rather than being prohibited from entering, he chose not to enter College ‘for fear of the plague’.

Extract from ‘Expense Necessarie’ for 1532-3 [KCAR/4/1/1/10]

Item solutum xxvio die octobris pro expensis factis super R Robardes adducentem pecunias a Wylloughtun ad collegium & non audentem intrare ob metum pestis.  vj d

Also, paid on 26 October for expenses for R Robardes bringing money from Willoughton to college and not daring to come in for fear of the plague.  6 d

Another curious thing is that two horses were brought back from Norfolk, during the plague. There are plenty of entries for College horses being treated in this year – one, ‘vocati hyrishoby’ (‘called the Irish Hobby’ – the breed is now extinct), stayed at Babraham to recover for 3 days around 15 October – but there is no reason given for horses being at Norfolk, or whose need it was to bring them back during the plague, as noted in the extract below.

Extract from ‘Custus Stabuli’ for 1532-3 [KCAR/4/1/1/10]

Item solutum xxijo die octobris W. Rawlyns pro pabulo equino ij equorum redeuntis a norfolcia in tempore pestis per ij noctes                          xx d

Also, paid on 20 October to W. Rawlins for horse fodder for bringing back 2 horses from Norfolk during the plague, for 2 nights          20 d

Commons reimbursements

The news story cited above notes that in times of plague the members of Gonville and Caius took to the country, ‘without loss of stipend of other privileges’. This seems also to have been the case at King’s in 1532-3. The commons expenses record these reimbursements, and they are only recorded from September to December 1532 and April to June 1533, suggesting that the plague raged in Cambridge during Michaelmas term, improved with the dispersal of people from the urban area, and then got worse again when they returned, a situation with which we today are all too familiar.

Extract from commons expenses for Michaelmas 1532 [KCAR/4/1/1/10]

The above is from the commons expenses for Michaelmas 1532. It says:

In primis solui pro communis xxiijor sociorum & scholarium absentium ob metum pestis a vigilia Michaelis usque in 3m diem decembris videlicet per ix septimanas & dimidium ut patet per billam M Turges xj li viij s & pro communis ix sociorum absentium eodem tempore per viij septimanas [& dimidium] cuilibet xij d per septimanam iij li xvj s vj d Item pro communis iiijor sociorum absentium consimiliter per vij septimanas & dimidium 30 s Item pro communis ij sociorum et unius scholarium absentium eodem tempore per iiijor septimanas & dimidium xiij s vi d Et pro communis quinque sociorum absentium eodem tempore per quinque septimanas et dimidium xxvij s vj d Item pro communis iij sociorum et unius scholarium absentium eodem tempore per vj septimanas et dimidium xxvj s Et pro communis unius socii absentis consimiliter per iij septimanas et dimidium iij s vj d Et pro communis vij sociorum et iiijor scholarium absentium eodem tempore per unam septimanam et dimidium xvj s vj d  [Total:] xxj li ij s vj d

Which, translated, begins

First I paid out for commons for 24 Fellows and Scholars absent for fear of plague from the vigil of Michaelmas to 3 December, that is for 9 ½ weeks, as appears in the bill of M Turges [a bursar] £11 8s, and for commons for 9 Fellows absent at the time for 8 [½] weeks at 12d per week £3 16s 6d…

A similar list of reimbursements is recorded for 19 April to 18 June.

If we presume nobody is counted twice in any one term, that’s a total of 61 Fellows and Scholars who eventually evacuated for all or part of the 9 ½ weeks from 28 September to 3 December 1532, and 51 who evacuated from 19 April to 18 June, out of a possible maximum of 70. Most, if not all, were back in time to say the December exequies, or specified prayers (see below).

The chaplains, clerks and choristers were entitled to commons allowance under the statutes, but the accounts record no payments to these members, so either they did not evacuate or they were not reimbursed for it.

The saddest thing about the 1532-3 plague is that 3 choristers died. Roger Bowers lucidly explored the plague’s effects on the choir in his chapter in the Chapel 500th anniversary book, so we need only reproduce here the entries showing that two women were hired to bleach and oversee the choristers’ bedding during the plague, and then we paid for shrouds to bury 3 choristers:

Item solutum ijbus mulierculis per manus W. Byrlyngam pro lotione et supervisione supellectilium chorustarum in tempore pestis    iiij s j d

Item solutum pro iijbus lintheaminibus ad sepiliendum iij chorustas    iij s

Also, paid 2 women by the hand of W. Burlingham, for bleaching and overseeing the choristers’ bedding in the time of plague 4 s 1 d

Also, paid for 3 shrouds for burying 3 choristers 3 s

Extract from ‘Exhibitio Chorustarum’ for 1532-3 [KCAR/4/1/1/10]

The College at that time consisted of up to 70 Fellows and Scholars plus the Provost, 10 chaplains, 6 clerks (men in holy orders), 16 choristers and 16 servants. It’s not clear just how many of the adults in College died; perhaps their families took them home to bury. What is likely, from the head counts compiled c. 1900 (cat. no. KCHR/3/1/13/2), is that in 1532-3 there was about 30% turnover amongst the Fellows and Scholars, 40% among the chaplains and clerks (who seem to have been readily replaced), and possibly 100% amongst the choristers.

Exequies

The accounts record payments to members for saying exequies, or prayers (it is probably more accurate to think of them as memorial services, possibly including music) for Henry VI and his parents as required by statute on nine specified dates. It appears that, during the plague, all of the required exequies were in fact observed. Low numbers at this time might reflect deaths, but might also reflect people who chose to stay away, shirk their duties and forgo their payments and commons reimbursement.

Exequy dates # Fellows & Scholars participating
(full complement: 70)
# Chaplains & Clerks participating
(full complement: 16)
# Choristers participating
(full complement: 16)
17 and 19 December, 3 January 57-61 14-15 10-12
22 March 59 13 2
21 May 31 14 0
20 June 47 14 5
15 and 31 August, 23 September 50-61 13-14 13-15
Table: Numbers of participants celebrating exequies during 1532-3

More questions than answers

The 1532-3 accounts raise various tantalising questions. For example, is it remarkable that so many workmen came from as far away as Royston, Bassingbourn and Luton to work on the new Choristers’ room and other repairs? Is it remarkable that the audit was held at Grantchester instead of in the College in 1532-3? Were there more widows being paid that year for wheat and horse food, than usual? Was it remarkable that we were buying wheat – weren’t our tenants supposed to supply it? Was it a hard winter – did we pay more for fuel, or buy more than usual (pro-rataed considering the evacuation)? Some of these might be answered with research in the existing accounts documents. Unfortunately, if not surprisingly, there is a gap of nearly 10 years in the accounts books around 1532 which complicates any such research.

Acknowledgements

Many thanks are extended to Michael Good for suggesting the blog, and for solving the ‘hyrishoby’ puzzle.

Bibliography

Bowers, Roger. ‘Chapel and Choir, Liturgy and Music, 1444-1644’ in King’s College Chapel 1515-2015: Art, Music and Religion in Cambridge; JM Massing and N Zeeman, eds (London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 2014) pp 258-283.

Cooper, Charles Henry. Annals of Cambridge, Vol. 1 (Cambridge: Warwick & Co, 1842) pp 346, 353-4.

Creighton, Charles. A History of Epidemics in Britain, Vol. 1 (Cambridge: CUP, 1891; https://www.gutenberg.org/files/42686/42686-h/42686-h.htm  accessed 19 October 2020) pp 293-7 and index for ‘London, plagues in’.

PKM

PMJ

 

What Everyone Had Been Up To

To lighten your working-from-home need for a bit of local gossip, we present The Brochure (a student publication) from about 1905, with reports on what everyone had been up to.

EMW-2-1-1 Brochure title page

A Brochure

EMW-2-1-1 Brochure p 5

Catullus was said to threaten his detractors with including them in his verse: ‘At non effugies meos non iambos (But you shall not escape my iambics)’.

This very blog puts paid to Mr Nixon’s piteous cries – the history of the College has been kept, it’s all in the archives.

 

Pigou (half-way down page 7) read History and Moral Sciences (now Philosophy). He started lecturing in Economics only in 1901, the Economics Faculty being established in 1903. Apparently Pigou’s mentor Marshall asked another King’s fellow to ‘speak to Pigou on a personal matter – a rather delicate matter. I saw him coming out of Bowes’ shop in a Norfolk jacket with holes in both the elbows. So bad for the Economics Tripos!’

If you’re worried about your diet for the foreseeable future (i.e. what’s available), you might look up the advice of Eustace Miles (KC 1887) mentioned near the bottom of page 7. A champion at real tennis and an Olympic medalist, Miles published several books on diet for boys and sportsmen in the first few years of the 20th century. He married in 1906 and opened a vegetarian restaurant with his wife in London, to which Margaret Schlegel threatened to take Mr Wilcox in EM Forster’s Howard’s End.  (Forster came up to King’s ten years after Miles.)

The production of The Wasps mentioned in the middle of page 8 is probably the 1897 Greek play, rather than the better-known 1909 one.

Evangelism at south coast resorts (bottom of page 9) took place through Beach Missions, 150 years old and still lively today. (Under current restrictions we can’t even get into a church on Sunday.) Another such effort at ‘good works’, the King’s Social Work Committee (middle of page 9), was established in 1904. Students subscribed and the funds were provided to College estates for lectures, books and other social activities. It appears also to have been involved with a Mission, later Boys Club, at Barnwell, now the Buddhist Centre.

The Trappists (middle of page 10) were a tongue-in-cheek undergraduate secret society, even now somewhat obscure, that included Eric Milner-White who returned after the war and instituted the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols here.

The Second Bursar (bottom of page 10) at the time was William Corbett. The post is now called Domus Bursar but don’t go getting any ideas.

The Victoria County History says that in the City of Cambridge ‘Every Pound of this Butter is roll’d, and drawn out to a Yard in Length, about the Bigness of a Walking-cane; which is mentioned as peculiar to this Place’ (see near the top of page 11). Walter Durnford, later Provost, was indeed Mayor of Cambridge 1905-6.

EMW-2-1-1 Brochure p 12

Though undated, the internal evidence suggests The Brochure was published around 1905.

Whether the abandoned streets and workplaces make you feel like you’re in one of MR James’ Ghost Stories of an Antiquary (page 7), or you’re developing your deipnosophistry (skill at dining – page 10) in the face of erratic food availability, or wishing you could get butter by the inch never mind the yard (page 11), or waiting for travel restrictions to lift so that you can travel with Kipling ‘on the road to Mandalay where the flying fishes play’ (page 11), we wish you well and hope that you and yours stay healthy as long as possible.

PKM

 

LGBT LIT: An Exhibition for LGBT+ History Month

The special collections at King’s include rare editions of literary output of some noteworthy LGBT 20th-century writers—Kingsman E.M. Forster and war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen—and one surprise, Alan Turing. King’s Archives and Library were pleased to mark LGBT+ History Month by showcasing this material, along with a display of borrowable LGBT-themed books, in an exhibition in King’s Library. We are delighted to be able to share the exhibition here.

AMT-k7.4 (2)

Alan Turing (1912–54) came up to King’s in 1931. (Reference: AMT/K/7/4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Probably while undergoing therapy in the 1950s, Turing began a near-autobiographical short story called ‘Pryce’s Buoy’. The story is about an interplanetary travel scientist, Alec Pryce, who resembles Alan in several ways. Just as Alan devised the idea that came to be known as the Turing machine, Alec, at the same age, comes up with ‘the idea which is now commonly known as ‘Pryce’s buoy’. ‘Alec always felt a glow of pride when this phrase was used. The rather obvious double-entendre rather pleased him too. He always liked to parade his homosexuality…’

The love interest in ‘Pryce’s Buoy’ is called Ron[ald] Miller, not a million miles from Arnold Murray, the other party involved when Alan was prosecuted for homosexuality.

A page from Alan Turing’s autograph manuscript of ‘Pryce’s Buoy’. (Reference: AMT/A/13)

A Trinity physicist named Maurice Pryce (1913–2003) was a Cambridge colleague of Turing. Maurice Pryce and Turing seem to have met at Cambridge but would no doubt quickly have discovered they shared a history in Guildford. Turing visited his parents there during school holidays from 1927, even into his College days, and in Guildford he indulged his interest in astronomy. Maurice Pryce attended the Royal Grammar School in Guildford from 1923 to 1929. The fictional Alec Pryce was an astronomical scientist.

E.M. Forster (1879–1970) came up to King’s in 1897. (Reference: EMF/27/319)

‘Pryce’s Buoy’ describes Alec picking up Ron, a small-time criminal (including male prostitution), while Christmas shopping. The notion of the bourgeois professional picking up a working-class man was common in the years before homosexuality was partially legalised in Britain in 1967. It is one of the similarities between ‘Pryce’s Buoy’ and E.M. Forster’s posthumously published novel of homosexual love Maurice, first drafted in 1913.

P.N. Furbank (1920–2014). (Reference: KCPH/3/5)

It is possible that Turing learned of the Maurice manuscript from P.N. Furbank, a good friend of both Forster and Turing. He was Forster’s authorised biographer and one of Turing’s executors. Furbank came up to Emmanuel College in 1939.

If Turing had seen or heard of the Maurice manuscript, that might subconsciously have informed the choice of his hero’s name: Pryce for the real-life Maurice Pryce and Alec because in Forster’s novel the second of Maurice’s lovers is a working-class gamekeeper called Alec.

 

Another parallel between the fictional stories and real life was the threat of blackmail faced by gay men. Turing met Murray outside a cinema in 1952, took him to lunch (just as Alec took Ron to lunch in Turing’s story), eventually entertained him at home and loaned him money. They wrangled over the money with Murray threatening to ‘do his worst’. In Maurice, Alec tells Maurice ‘you reckernize it wouldn’t very well suit you if certain things came out’.

A page from Forster’s typescript of his novel Maurice. (Reference: EMF/1/5/9C)

Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967) in 1928 at Versailles (Reference: RNL/2/533)

Siegfried Sassoon came up to Clare College in 1905, a few years after Forster had left King’s. They knew of each other, had several aborted attempts at meeting and finally did so in 1919, soon after which Sassoon declared his homosexuality to Forster. Sassoon was one of the first people with whom Forster shared his short story ‘The Life to Come’, also published posthumously.

The story begins with Paul Pinmay, a missionary, going to bed with a great South Seas prince, Vithobai. For this he carries a great deal of guilt. Vithobai becomes Christian, taking the name Barnabas, and on the eve of both their weddings comes to Paul with a gift and confession of love.

A page from Forster’s typescript of ‘The Life to Come’. (Reference: EMF/3/13/2 vol 4/3)

Sassoon gave Forster several inscribed copies of his books of poetry and prose which are now in the Forster collection at King’s. The most affectionate inscription is on his 1950 book of poems, Common Chords, one of 107 copies printed on hand-made paper.

Sassoon’s inscription to Forster on his copy of Common Chords (Stanford Dingley: The Mill House Press, 1950). (Shelfmark: Forster.SAS.Com.1950)

Title page of Common Chords (Stanford Dingley: The Mill House Press, 1950).

One cannot skip past Sassoon without mentioning his protégé Wilfred Owen (1893–1918) who died in World War I.

Photograph of Wilfred Owen printed in Wilfred Owen, Poems (London: Chatto & Windus, 1920). (Shelfmark: N.32.16)

Owen and Sassoon met at Craiglockhart, a military psychiatric hospital in Edinburgh for the treatment of shell-shocked officers. It is believed that Owen, like Sassoon and other literary friends such as Robert Ross (Oscar Wilde’s literary executor, who was briefly a student at King’s), was also homosexual. As the Dictionary of National Biography says: ‘What is certain, however, is that Owen and Sassoon wrote more eloquently than other poets of the tragedy of boys killed in battle because they felt that tragedy more acutely, more personally.’ This year is the hundredth anniversary of the publication of this early edition of Owen’s poems, which includes an introduction by Sassoon.

Dustjacket from Owen’s Poems (London: Chatto & Windus, 1920). (Shelfmark: N.32.16)

Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Greater Love’, in Poems (London: Chatto & Windus, 1920). (Shelfmark: N.32.16)

PKM

 

An Astonishing Transformation

THE OBJECT

In the archives we have this somewhat intimidating collection of College records:

KCA/684: Before

Intimidating because it’s mostly 15th-century Latin, and it’s in this temporary-looking heavy straw-board folder

The old packaging

from the early 20th century which is itself falling apart, and you worry the pages will get out of place. Yet everything says it’s important: the vellum is so fine and soft that it drapes like fabric (nice to handle but it means you have to pay careful attention when turning pages), the wide margins bespeak a luxurious undertaking, and it’s one of the College’s oldest of its own documents. The first thing recorded in this volume is a detailed inventory of the College’s valuables in 1453-7.

THE TRANSFORMATION

Or at least we did have this intimidating object, until it was conserved over the winter by the Conservation Consortium and restored to what must be a very close approximation of its former glory.

During this process the Consortium carefully diagrammed all the quires, showing where blank pages had been cut out for use elsewhere:

Quire diagram

Then they flattened, under controlled humidification, and cleaned the pages,

Flattening the pages under weights

stabilising those that had the worst historic damage using Japanese paper. This is a soft tissue paper, often handmade, of consistent quality and free from impurities such as iron particles which can lead to paper degradation, rust spots, or ‘foxing’. It is transparent so that it can be glued over tears in existing pages while still allowing the text to be read, and allows for easily reversible interventions.

Based on evidence found within the book

Evidence of previous binding

and drawing from other historical contemporary book structures they recreated a late medieval-style binding. Boards were hand-carved from quarter cut planks of seasoned oak. The bookblock was carefully sewn to achieve a flat, well-supported opening,

Sewing the block

finishing it off with a quarto style alum-tawed (white) leather binding.

Claude applying glue to the leather binding

Sewing the binding to the spine of the book

Book conservator Claude Grewal-Sultze even went to the Bodleian Library to learn lessons from the conservation project on the Winchester Bible.

The result looks fabulous and now it’s hard to keep your hands off it – the smooth oak end-boards present a friendly, inviting surface.

KCA/684: After

Decorative sewing on the endband

You still have to be careful turning the soft pages of course. The document even appears smaller and lighter than it had done. Archivists will be surprised to hear that even after conservation and in its new protective box (made of archive-quality mid-weight cardboard), it fits in its old location.

The total cost of the renovation was £5000. This has been paid for by a generous donor, to whom we are very grateful.  

THE CONTENT

The volume contains more than just the inventory advertised on the cover, though it’s a magnificent inventory, befitting the holdings of a royal institution. We hope to publish a commentary on it in due course. The volume contents are:

1453-7 inventory (folios 3-12), high points of Henry VI’s charters for King’s (folios 13-26), Library books (folios 58r-65v), a list of members of the foundation (folios 70-77), and pledges (folio 81). There are blank pages between the sections, showing a consciousness that King’s was here to stay – further information would be added in due course.

Space on the page for additions

Due to the specially designed binding, the volume can be opened flat without causing damage.

The 1453-7 inventory was published by G. Williams (‘Ecclesiastical Vestments, Books, and Furniture, in the Collegiate Church of King’s College, Cambridge, in the Fifteenth Century’, three articles in The Ecclesiologist, 20 (1859), 304-15; 21 (1860), 1-7; and 24 (1863), 99-102). Williams left out additions to the inventory subsequent to the original scribe’s activity. These additions were transcribed by MR James and W St John Hope in a copy of Williams’s article (call mark Coll 2/23).

In 2018, various sections of this volume featured in an article Peter Jones wrote (‘Commemoration at a Royal College’, pages 106-122 from Commemoration in Medieval Cambridge, ed. John S. Lee and Christian Steer, in the series ‘The History of the University of Cambridge: Texts and Studies’ published by Boydell Press for Cambridge University Library).

SUBSEQUENTLY

Many of the objects listed here can be found in inventories made 50 or more years later (call mark KCA/22).

KCA/22 also left space for additions

The 1554 inventory in that book is interesting because in the intervening years the vestments had been turned into costumes – see our online exhibition about Queen Elizabeth’s 1564 visit.

Although not as elegantly presented as KCA/684, KCA/22 is still a spaciously designed book with a variety of flourished capitals and a use of display scripts. The inventories in KCA/22 were transcribed by MR James (Provost of King’s) and W St John Hope (antiquarian), and those transcriptions can be found in the archives under call marks Coll 2/23 and KCA/687. The same donation is covering the cost of conserving KCA/22. Part of the conservation will include replacement of the stiff parchment cover which has shrunk, making the pages’ leading edges vulnerable.

Peter Jones, Fellow Librarian
Patricia McGuire, Archivist

 

Cheyne Links with King’s

Charles Robert Ashbee (1863-1942) came up to King’s College in 1883 and read History. The friends he made in Cambridge and the books he read contributed to his development into what biographer Alan Crawford described as an ‘Architect, Designer & Romantic Socialist’. Ashbee’s memoirs came to King’s a few years after he died, with his ‘journals’ (correspondence and scrapbooks bound together) and some genealogical papers given by his widow ten years later. With the death of their daughter Felicity in 2008, the last large tranche of Ashbee papers came to King’s, including his Jerusalem papers (for more on which see this online exhibition).

But in May we were given two more drawings by C. R. Ashbee and they’re rapidly becoming some of my favourite things. The first drawing is a design for a crucifix medallion. It’s stamped ‘This design is the property of The Guild of Handicraft Ltd … Chipping Campden, Glos. and is to be returned to them’ with the design number and date added by hand. It’s labelled ‘Silver Cross, enamelled & chased’. At 7 mm diameter, it’s probably drawn life-size.

CRA/100. Guild of Handicraft design for a crucifix medallion

CRA/100 (detail). Silver Cross, enamelled & chased

The other drawing, which is too big for us to reproduce for the blog, is floorplans for a house that Ashbee designed for 37 Cheyne Walk in Chelsea, called ‘Magpie & Stump’ after an ancient pub once run on the site (see the ‘Places’ section of the ‘Summary’ tab here). The Victoria and Albert Museum holds in its collection the elevation of that building.

Ashbee’s parents separated in 1893, his mother bought the freehold of 37 Cheyne Walk and he designed the house for her and her unmarried daughters. Ashbee lived there as well, doing a fair business as an architect (he built 6 more houses on Cheyne Walk over the next 20 years, but only 2 survive) while also managing the Guild he had begun in 1888.

CRA/23, f4. 37-39 Cheyne Walk (The Ancient Magpie and Stump is the nearest) as published in Neubauten in London (Berlin, 1900)

If you’re in Cambridge you can see the drawings themselves during the Long Vacation 2017, displayed in the exhibition cases in the Archives Centre Reading Room. See Getting to the Archive Centre. There is no need to book an appointment just to look at the exhibition. More permanently, and to learn more about C. R. Ashbee and see more of his papers, visit our on-line exhibitions page about him. And when the Chapel is open to visitors you can see the frame Ashbee designed for a painting he gave to the College in the 1930s, Madonna in the Rosary which can also be seen in the Chapel virtual tour (Click ‘Navigate the Chapel’ and then click on the link to ‘Visit St Edward’s Chapel’ in the top right/northeast corner).

To satisfy patient readers who have come this far, there is another Cheyne link with King’s which was brought to my attention by a colleague. T. S. Eliot lived with John Davy Hayward (1905-65, King’s College 1923) in 19 Carlyle Mansions at 122 Cheyne Walk, for ten years after WW2. Because of this friendship and co-habitation, Hayward collected many Eliot drafts, some letters, ephemeral publications, first editions and proof copies of Eliot’s works, which form the Hayward Bequest of T. S. Eliot material.

PKM

 

 

The Potticarie’s Bill

Following a previous post about the College site in the accounts books, this post highlights another series of accounts books: the Commons Books which record food bought for consumption in Hall and the names of those consuming it. Sometimes these are the only record of the names of our choristers. (An article has been written from the Commons Books for earlier years and two of the books are partially transcribed, see the catalogue descriptions of the commons books, and the article and transcriptions, for more information.) The pages for the week beginning October 18, 1578 are reproduced here (click on the image if you want to zoom in):

KCAR/4/1/6/20 1578-10-18 1

Oct 18, 1578: diners and first part of the week’s expenses

 

At the top of the page is listed the week (in this case, the third) of the financial year, then the name of the Fellow assigned to be Steward that week (in this case, Mag[iste]ro [John] Cowell). Then are listed the members of the ‘College society’ (the Provost is not included, his commons was usually accounted elsewhere): i.e. the Vice-Provost followed by the rest of the Fellows in their order of seniority, each of whom was allowed 20 pence weekly commons allowance in what amounted to an internal recharging system. An annotation next to someone’s name indicates if he was away from Co[llege] for the whole or just half the week. The Fellows are followed by the ‘Scholaribus’ = Scholars of the College, also in seniority order and allotted 20 pence per week, then ‘alii’ (others, also allotted 20 pence per week commons) which turns out to be the Bursar’s Clerk, the lay clerks and the chaplains. Then the Choristers are listed (10 pence each for their commons), then the ‘Servientes’ (servants, 12 pence per week each) that had been specified by Henry VI as being supported on the Foundation. Following the total commons allowance are, for each day of the week, the value of the food consumed at dinner and supper.

KCAR/4/1/6/20 1578-10-18 2

Oct 18, 1578: expenses for the second part of the week

You can see that an awful lot of beef (carne bovine) and mutton (carne ovine) was being consumed, plus milk, butter, eggs (ovis – we had no College chickens or cows), various types of fish (ling, plaice, roach, pickerel), pepper, sugar, currants, dates, cinnamon, cloves, mace, suet, rabbit (‘cuniculis’), tripe, neat’s foot (the heel of a cow or ox), ‘salsamente’ which is some unspecified sauce, oatmeal, mustard and possibly other herbs (‘sinapis’), and black or white salt (‘sale nigra’ or ‘albo’). ‘Cena’ means supper, apparently the last meal of the day.

Sedge, wood and candles were part of commons expenses, I suspect the sedge was in the form of rushes strewn on the floor. Not much flour is accounted for but there was wheat (‘frumenti’) charged during this week – we had our own millstone. There are no expenses for honey that week. I have never seen expenses for beekeeping supplies in other years’ accounts books, so possibly honey was not used regularly in Hall.

Following all of the expenditure is an account of what was used from the storerooms (in stauro), and internal accounting of various College members’ cizations, i.e. personal domus accounts.

Audit Feasts

Dining expenses in the two weeks or so preceding the annual Audit at the end of October, were accounted separately. The year after the above, in the 18 days before October 30th, 1579, in addition to the usual mutton, beef etc., the College members were indulged with ‘a pigge’ one day (other pork cuts were served on other days), pigeons, capons, oysters, cream, marrowbone, veal (loin, breast, leg, shoulder and rack), ‘boylde chikins’, larks, a goose, mallard, teal and snipe. An entry for ‘sake’ doesn’t constitute previously unknown evidence of intimate links with Japan, it’s from the French ‘sec’ for dry wine. There was wine, white as well as claret, at almost every meal during the audit time. Sometimes the wine was used ‘for broth’. The College brewed its own beer at this time but beer is not mentioned in the Commons Books, suggesting that these accounts only list the actual expenditure on food. Fruit is often mentioned in general, with apples sometimes specified for the table, sometimes for tarts, and peaches are mentioned specifically once.

KCAR/4/1/6/19 audit 1579 02

The ‘potticaries bill’ (halfway down in the image above) for the first week includes expenses for currants (5 pence per pound, that’s half a Chorister’s weekly commons allowance), prunes, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, mace, dates, pepper, capers, vinegar, verjuice, oatmeal, ‘unnions’, rose water and saffron. That’s a reminder of the days when medicines were plant-based and exotic plants were most readily available from the druggist.

PKM

Riveting Accounts

After someone asked me about a young King’s fellow in about 1579 (whom the enquirer thought might be the minister who married Will Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway – we were not surprised when I couldn’t find any supporting evidence at King’s), I searched through that entire year’s accounts. Some surprising, or at least interesting, things came up.

The two great maps of the College site pre-Gibbs’ building are Hamond’s map of 1592 and Loggan’s map of 1688. Hamond’s map is faint, and is reproduced here as a re-drawing from Willis and Clark’s Architectural History of the University of Cambridge and of the Colleges of Cambridge and Eton. The Loggan excerpt reproduced here is taken from a 1921 reprint by Clark and Gray.

W&C-553 fig 57 b

Hamond’s map

1688 Loggan_crop

Loggan’s map

Queens’ Road (west) is at the top – the fields beyond, now the Fellows’ Garden, were common land at the time.

What’s that moated site in the middle of Scholars’ Piece? On the Hamond map it’s occupied by a dovecote. And what about all those buildings around the wall surrounding the College site, particularly visible in Hamond’s map? What are they? The draft accounts (a page of which is shown below) offer some partial explanations.

1578-9 rep cantab 4

KCAR-4-1-4-11 Bursar’s particulars book, reparationes cantab. for Annunt and Bapt term (Easter and long vacation/summer) 1579

These particular pages from the accounts record repairs on the College site. (Other pages record repairs at our Grantchester and Barton estates, for example.) The first three items on this page record payments of

Junii 23 le pavier for paving 32 yerdes in the lane by the stables 2 d ob the yerde…vi s iiii d

for a load of ragge to the same…iiii s vi d

Cochei July 8° pro 10 bigatis argille…vi s viii d

The abbreviation ob is for oblus, technically a halfpenny but the term often appears in the accounts to stand generally for ‘a portion’ – in this case the paving cost works out at 2 3/8 shillings per yard. This suggests it is internal to the College site, for the 1543 Cambridge paving bill (in force until 1788) decreed that all the public streets be maintained by the frontage-holders and that ‘no persone or persones exercysyng the handecrafte or ocupacion of pavyng wythin the sayd towne, shall take above a jd. q. for every yarde square pavyng’ (Cooper’s Annals of Cambridge, vol. 1, p. 411).

Thus we paid someone to pave a lane, at two and a bit pence per yard, and he supplied the (rag-)stones at 4 shillings sixpence. We also paid Cochei for 10 cartloads of clay. It’s not clear whether this is a man called Cochei, or just ‘a coach driver’ – the designation appears in the accounts books frequently during these years, when labourers’ names are usually specified. From the marginal ‘g.w.’ next to this entry and others I surmise the clay (‘argille’), as well as the next items (sand and straw, also delivered by Cochei), were used to build the garden wall in that year. 10,800 tiles were purchased at one point to cope the garden wall ‘about the Fellows garden’ which had a locked gate.

In various places the late 1570s College accounts mention a thatched swan house and a dove house which probably housed the ‘salt stone for the pigeons’ who were fattened, like the swans, with malt – the swans were later ‘upped’ (gathered and marked) and one presumes the pigeons were consumed in Hall. Other buildings mentioned in these years are:

• the stables and stable yard
• wheat house
• wood house and wood yard
• storehouse which might be the same as the larder mentioned
• salt house
• lead house (it housed the leads used in windows and the Chapel roof I suppose)
• ‘house over the water in the Scholars’ garden’
• coal house
• mill house with mill stone and mill horse
• brew house
• bake house
• sedge house with a wall around it which might be the same as the new straw house – a boat was required to remove the scaffolding after the sedge yard wall had been repaired, so if they are the same it must be one of the riverside buildings.

Gates mentioned:

• field gate
• bridge gate
• water gate
• College gate
• alms gate
• friars’ gate

The friars’ gate was approximately where Webb’s Court gate now is. There was a tennis court outside the friars’ gate and an orchard in what is now the Provost’s garden. There were lofts somewhere for malt and fish. Willis and Clark examined the accounts and offered some explanations, but it’s likely that in many cases we will never know which buildings were used for which purposes. So there are more questions than answers at this point, and plenty more research to do in those ‘boring, dry old accounts’.

PKM

Brooke Acquisitions

As many of you know, King’s has recently been awarded £430,000 (for which we are most grateful) from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) towards the £500,000 purchase price of the largest collection of Rupert Brooke material that was held outside King’s. We took possession of the collection on April 17th. Peter Jones (Librarian) and Peter Monteith (Assistant Archivist) are shown here, unpacking the acquisition in our reading room.

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The University Press Office published a news story Madonna and Childabout the accession. As you can see from the photo, most of the manuscripts were bound by Marsh and Schroder into guard books, which kept them in good condition and makes them easy to catalogue. The letters and papers in guard books are now on open access, and the cataloguing will proceed apace so that everyone will soon know exactly what is in the new accession. My favourite finds so far relate to Eric Gill. There are three letters from Brooke to Gill. In the first he says he’s seen Gill’s Madonna and Child sculptures that belong to Frances Cornford and to Maynard Keynes (which was left unfinished, as Keynes preferred it) and would like Madonna and Child (right) to buy one for himself. Keynes left his art collection to King’s, and we have his, which in fact presides over the top of the last staircase you have to climb to get up to the archives. It was seen by Keynes before Gill had finished it, and Keynes so liked it in that state that he purchased it as it was.

The second letter says Brooke has received his Madonna, and loves it, and will send a cheque. The third and final letter, written from San Francisco, says he may have forgotten to pay Gill and so he asked Eddie Marsh to send a cheque. At the bottom of the page you’ll find ‘If you’ve a cheque from him, too, you’d better tear up one, + I advise this: for he is of the Great + his cheque is sure to be honoured, but I’m a poet, + with me it’s always doubtful.’

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The Schroder collection also includes the torn-up cheque.

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Poignantly, there is also a letter from Eric Gill to Eddie Marsh offering to carve the lettering on the memorial plaque that was erected in the Rugby chapel. These are my favourites because they illustrate the research value of the new papers (I’ve never seen anything before about Brooke’s artistic tastes), they create even more links between our collections (we have Keynes’s correspondence with Gill and invoice forRCB-Ph-333 his Madonna, as well as having the statue itself), and they exemplify the relationship between old and new collections (the photo of the Rugby plaque is from the old collection). There’s the allure of ‘big names’ like Eric Gill. Finally, there are questions raised – why a torn-up cheque? – that can only be answered by recourse to the papers themselves.

It is particularly gratifying that the majority of funding to acquire this important collection comes from the NHMF. The Fund has its roots in the National Land Fund, established by the then Chancellor, Hugh Dalton, himself a Kingsman and friend of Rupert Brooke, who established the fund as ‘a thank-offering for victory and a war-memorial’. The letters Hugh Dalton himself had received from Rupert Brooke, were bequeathed to King’s and form part of the College’s existing Brooke papers.

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Lord Annan’s Remains

This is Provost Noël Annan’s parting shot, fired when he left to be Provost of University College London in 1966. Tim Munby, who annotated it, was Domus Bursar at the time. Anyone familiar with the College’s internal debate about the placement of the Rubens will recognise the edge of frustration that informed Annan’s witty verbal caricatures of the various King’s Fellows who were most vocal in that debate.

Misc-13-1-1Misc-13-1-2By kind permission of the estate of Noël Annan.

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