chestnut book blog

Read. Recommend. Revel.


The Hatfield Banquet

I went to my first Tudor banquet on Friday at Hatfield House and it was absolutely fantastic! We had been given tickets by my parents-in-law who had won them at a charity event last year.  I had little idea of what to expect, but what we got was a very warm welcome, wonderful entertainment, nice food and a magical setting in the Great Hall.

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The Great Hall, Hatfield House

The Great Hall, Hatfield House

I’d forgotten many traditional songs that I had learnt when I was younger, but as I listened to the players, Greensleeves, Hey Nonny Nonny, and The Boar’s Head all came rushing back. The actors were all beautiful singers as well as highly entertaining. There was also a jester who wowed with his sleight of hand and fire eating. I never quite enjoy magic as much as I should though, because I am always trying to furiously work out how they do it! Knowing that we were just one in a very long line of parties that had been hosted in that beautiful Great Hall made the evening particularly special – there is nothing like a sense of history to put everything in perspective!

This all leads me on nicely to my current reading material, A Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England. This is the second in series written by Ian Mortimer. The first was a similar guide to Medieval England, which I enjoyed so much that it was very difficult to wait for the paperback version of this next book to be released. But wait I did and it was worth it. These books are such a good, new idea. A cross between a history book and historical fiction, they show you what life would really have been like; what you would smell, what you would say, how you would do things – fascinating! Mortimer has managed to bring the past alive through his research just as Hilary Mantel does – there is extensive research here, but it adds to rather than gets in the way of  your enjoyment. I am going to go back to it now to find out about the state of the roads in Tudor England and I’d thoroughly recommend that you check out this time traveller’s guide as well – it will come in very handy if you happen to go to a Tudor banquet any time soon!

In a month where we as a nation have found Richard III, when there was a discovery of a plague burial ground whilst excavating for the most modern of transport and I personally went to a Tudor banquet, it has shown me that history is anything but bunk!