Tudor Stuff!

During the Tudor period (1485 to 1603) in England, life was hard. There was a big difference between the lives of poor and rich people.

Look at the objects below and do your best to guess what they are used for, who used them, and what they are made of. Then click on each picture to see if you were right. Some are tricky!

This is a "rushlight." It was a very cheap candle used by poor people. They made it by soaking a rush plant in fat or grease. The burning rushlight was held by metal clips which were mounted on an iron tripod or wooden block.

This is an eel basket, used for catching eels from the Thames River in London. Londoners ate a lot of eels. These baskets were made of willow wood and were sometimes used with other devices in the river to block the eels and direct them to the traps.

This is a clay bird's nest! It was hung up outside of a house. It was a warm and secure space, and birds could nest there. The little door at the back of the nest could be opened to get eggs or chicks. These would be food for people in late winter, when food was running low.

This is a quill (feather) pen and sand shaker made of clay. The quill pen was for writing with ink on handmade paper. The sand shaker was like an eraser. Sprinkling sand onto the paper soaked up the wet ink. The inky sand was flicked away. The sand shaker had small holes on the top to let sand to be sprinked, and a larger hole underneath for filling it.

This is a cone of sugar with sugar-cutting scissors. The sugar was expensive, and only rich people had it. Liquid sugar was poured into a mold and hardened. Bits were cut off using the iron sugar scissors, and then used in food or as medicine for colds. Poorer people used honey for sweetener.

This is a mug made from a horn. People made mugs from cow, ram, and deer horns. The middle was hollowed out, and it could be carved or bent into different shapes.The horn would not break if you dropped it.

This is a watering pot for the floor! Most homes had dirt floors covered in long grasses called rushes. There was no glass in the windows, so stuff could blow in. It was very hard to keep clean. To keep down dust, people used this small clay watering pot to sprinkle the floor with water. On the bottom were about 50 holes, and a knob on top to hold between two fingers with the thumb covering the hole in the top. That let them control the water coming out.

Photo credit: Islington Education Library Service