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Extant Examples of Whistle spoons

Whistle spoon

Various examples of whistle spoons can be found, particularly in the netherlands

2 examples of whistle spoons – both have lost the stem/bowl of the find – which can be common in soil finds due to the more fragile nature of the stem in the Rotterdam museum. Both spoons are dated to the 1350- 1450 time period and are made of lead pewter

In this Article from the Dutch Tin Association, whistle spoons are talked about in detail, including a whistle spoon found whole, expected to be dated around 1280. It also have several fragments, including one of the two in the Rotterdam museum.

16th Century English – Pewter

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Saint of the month; St Christopher 25th July

Feast day: July 25th

St Christopher, was and remains the Patron Saint of travellers. He was also believed to provide protection against sudden death and plague.

In this badge Christopher is shown leaning on a staff and turning to see the Christ child on his shoulder, holding the orb of sovereignty. The original badge was dated to the 15th century and was found in London.

Buy your replica of the badge here

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Saint of the month; St Alban Jun 22nd

Feast Day: June 22nd

Saint Alban is England’s first martyr. This replica badge depicts the story of how St Alban, a Romano-British Legionnaire at Veralmium was converted to Christianity while providing refuge to a priest and was killed when he refused to give up his faith and the priest.

The original badge was found in London and a similiar badge can be found in the Museum of London.

Buy a replica here

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Know your spoon!

Spoons are one of the oldest and most common of dining tools. Throughout the medieval period spoons were so integral to a persons kit that they were carried everywhere with them, usually in their pouch or in a sheath along with their personal knives. When eating away from home, it was quite normal for a guest to be expected to bring and eat with their own spoon. 

Spoons came in a wide variety of materials including wood, horn, bone, pewter, silver and silver gilt. People would choose based partly from personal preference and also their status and wealth. As with all tools, spoon profiles (the shape and form) were shaped based on how people ate their food so medieval spoons tend to have similar profiles – a leaf shaped shallow bowl with a straight handle and often, a knop.

The knop was a decorative element on the handle end providing weight for balance, character to the spoon, and often a meaning for the owner such as continued good health. A surprising number of different knop themes have been found, some of which recur throughout the centuries such as the Acorn and the Diamond (a pointed pyramid top) while others appeared only briefly – a snapshot of fashion and belief of a time and place.

So, choose your spoon as you would your jewellery – something that reflects your personality, beliefs and the wealth and status you’d like to project, and don’t forget to keep it close!

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Eating with medieval dining Spoons

As the cold depths of winter rolls around, thick soups and rich stews of all kinds are on the menu. Spoons, bowls and crusty bread are on the table just as they were in Medieval times, but did you know that how we eat today is not the same as medieval families?

Soups and stews were generally drunk not ‘spooned’ from small bowls with taller sides. The spoon was used similar to a spatula – to scrape up any missed tasty solid and semi-solid morsels at the bottom of the bowl. This is part of why the shape of a medieval dining spoon bowl is so flat compared to our modern spoons. Spoons weren’t about ferrying the liquid or cutting smaller portions – that after all, was the knife’s purpose – they were about capturing the remnants.

Why not try this next time you have a stew – it’s not really that different to a cup-a-soup and it really brings a different dimension to the taste of a soup or stew

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Saint of the month; St Dunstan May 19th

Feast Day: May 19

St Dunstan is the Patron Saint of goldsmiths, bell founders, jewellers, metalworkers, engravers and students. He was reputed to have caught the Devil and held him by the nose with a pair of red hot tongs. On the continent he is known as Saint Elegius.

This replica pewter badge of St Dunstan is dated to the 15th century. It was found at the Glastonbury Catherdral in London. The original is in a private collection. Buy a replica version here

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Charcoal Incense Burners

We’re big fans of incense. We love making it, and smelling the fragrance as it burns away on charcoal. But it’s a bit of a dying art these days. So here’s some tips about burning loose incense on charcoal.

All charcoal burners require sand at the bottom. Charcoal is an intense heat and this sudden heat can damage the burner, especially ceramic ones. A level of about a cm at the bottom is required to smooth out the heat transition.

Firstly, find a good place to set the burner while it’s burning incense. (You shouldn’t move the burner once the charcoal inside). Make sure the burner is either on stone or on something which won’t mind the heat.

When lighting the charcoal, use tongs and a constant flame – either a candle, gas stove or a BBQ lighter. Once flame has touched the charcoal DON’T TOUCH THE CHARCOAL.

Lit charcoal looks extremely similar to unlit charcoal so don’t touch it if there’s a possibility it’s caught.

If you hold your hand above the charcoal, you should be able to feel the warmth emitting from it. If you’re in a quiet place, and you listen carefully, you should be able to hear a slight crackling sound – this also means that it’s caught. If you aren’t sure, put it back into the flame.

Once it’s lit, place it on the sand in the burner and then sprinkle a small amount of loose incense, or a cone, onto the charcoal tablet. The scent should release almost instantly. Be careful not to add too much or you could smother the charcoal.

A charcoal tablet burns for about 45 minutes. You may need to add more incense onto the tablet during this 45 minute period.

Our incense products

Want to learn more about charcoal burning?
Pamphlet on different types of charcoal and what they were used for

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Saint of the month; April St George

Feast Day: 23rd April

This month we’re taking a look at one of the more famous English Saints, St George:

Famous for slaying the dragon and saving the princess, the legend dates back to the 12th century and is symbolic of the victory of Good over evil.

This badge depicts the popular legend in which the soldier – Saint George, slays the dragon and saves the princess. The legend dates from around the 12th Century and is symbolic of the victory of Good over Evil. The original is dated to the 14th century and is currently in a private collection in London.

Buy your St George badge here

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The organic jewels

What are ‘organic’ jewels? This a category of ‘jewels’ created from or by living things. Today fine jewelery tends to recognise only four; that of Amber, Pearls, Coral and Jet. During the renaissance and medieval periods there were many more including a few that may seem rather bizarre by our standards.

They include bone, bezoar stones, feathers, timber and seeds, insect and insect parts such as butterfly wings, and fish scales – anything in fact, which was considered beautiful and or useful by attributed virtues. They were treated with the same craftsmanship and reverence that more familiar precious stones do today, as can be seen by the setting of these organic jewels alongside or as focal points in jewels made for every part of the body and clothes.

While inherently fragile by nature, organic jewels with the correct care can last a very long time. A Scottish freshwater pearl, currently a part of the British crown jewels, was brought into the British royal treasury by Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of Henry the 8th. With care it has survived many re-settings into different jewels and holds its beauty now as then.

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Saint of the month; March The Annunciation

This month in the medieval world we celebrate not a saint – but the principle Marian (Cult of Mary) event; Solemnity of the Annunciation or ‘Festum incarnationis’ (feast of the incarnation). It is held on the 25th of March and documentation across the medieval and renaissance world show that it has been celebrated on this date from the 4th Century.

The celebration commemorates the appearance of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary to announce that she had been chosen to be the mother of Christ, Son of God. Mary was invoked as the compassionate intercessor and protector of humanity and for her courage, humility and gentleness. 

The Cult of Mary grew in strength in the 12 and 13th Centuries and flourished from the 14th Centuries onwards. It is believed that the veneration of Mary and her status as the mediator to God and a source of refuge for man is one of the a major Tenant and driving force behind the Age of Chivalry with its concept of the honour of a lady. Where women had often been viewed as a source of evil, the growth of the age of chivalry and the flourishing of the cult of Mary helped to change this attitude.

For Mary there is no single shrine, rather there are literally thousands of Marian shrines across the medieval world. They celebrate an apparition or other miracle ascribed to her, and most are part of or the reason for pilgrimage routes. 

There are a host of pilgrims badges associated with Mary and of the Annunciation, some of which are associated with a particular shrine (eg Our Lady Undercroft at Canterbury), and others which were universal symbols and could be bought at any shrine. We carry a number of the most popular badges – listed below.

Fleur de Lys

The Annunciation

the letter ‘M’

Madonna and Child

Our Lady of Walsingham

Our of Lady Undercroft

The Annunciation

Virgin and Child

Walsingham – a fleur de lys set with a garnet

Winged Heart