Category Archives: Custom

Custom Entertainment Games London Underworld Vice

We play with dice

Evidence of gambling in London goes all the way back to the Romans, with dice carved from bone and jet having been excavated by archaeologists. Medieval London also had its fair share of gaming activity; Hazard was played in taverns and brothels, along with another dice game known as Tables. Playing cards were introduced into London in the 15th century; John Stowe remarks on their popularity during feast days. Playing cards were also kept in most taverns, often with the name of the tavern printed on them. In fact playing cards became such big business that over four and a half million packs were sold in the mid-17th century. Here is a contemporary description of some popular tavern games:

We play with Dice either they that throw the most take up all; or we throw them through a casting-Box upon a board marked with figures, and this is the Dice-players game at casting Lots.  Men play by luck and skill at Tables and at Cards.  We play at Chesse on a Chesse-board where only art beareth the sway.  The most ingenious Game is the game at Chefs, wherein as it were two Armies fight together in Battell’ (Early Modern Risk!).

Lincoln’s Inn was had a particular reputation for gambling in London; and even children played each other for oranges and coins. One game known as Wheel of Fortune was especially popular. However, gambling was frowned on by many and seen as a vice fit for the devil. This comment is fairly typical:

O how happy were it for your posterity, if all Dicing-houses, and allies of gaming were suppressed in, and about this Citty… The delights of these Tabling-houses are so pleasant and tempting, that a man when he hath lost all his money, will be most willing, even in the place of his undoing, to stand money-lesse, and be and Idle looker on of other mens unthriftinesse.

By the early 18th Century there were over forty gaming houses in London; gambling had evolved from a tavern sport to a recognised industry. These early casinos had a fancy lamp outside the entrance which made them immediately recognisable to passers-by. Gaming was eventually outlawed in London, but this merely drove it underground, and despite regular raids by the authorities, the gaming houses prospered. At Almanacks, a famous casino in Pall Mall, the players turned their coats inside out for luck and wore leather wristbands to protect their lacy cuffs.Outside the door of White’s gaming house, when one player dropped dead, members of the club ‘immediately made bets whether he was dead or only in a fit.’

Sources: Peter Ackroyd, London The Biography; John Stowe, Survey of London (1598)

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Custom Food London

Have you any work for a tinker

Today’s fragments are a series of images of 17th century London street sellers; hawkers who tramped the streets of the capital selling their goods and services.  From fresh rabbits to hot apples, chair mending to chimney sweeps, it was possible to buy just about anything from these wandering vendors.







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Booze Custom Dining Etiquette Family Household School

If spitting chance to move thee

These fragments, on etiquette and manners, come from a little book entitled The School of Vertue (1619). Intended primarily to be read by children, it also contains wise child-rearing advice for parents.


Laying the cloth, and making ready the table:

Be sure to be ready, the bord to prepare
at times: as accustom’d with diligent care:
the table cloth first see fairely spread.
faire trenchers, cleane napkins, the salt & the bread,
let glasses be scoured, in country guise,
with salt and faire water, and ever devise
the place most convenient, where they may stand,
the safest from breaking and neerest at hand.

The Nose:
Not imitate with Socrates,
to wipe thy snivelled nose
upon thy cap, as he would do,
nor yet upon thy clothes.
But keepe it cleane with handkerchiefe
provided for the same,
not with thy fingers or thy sleeve
therein thou art to blame.
Blow not allowd as thou shalt stand
for that is most absurd,
Sniffing like a broken winded horse
is to be abhorred.
Nor practise snufflingly to speake,
for that doth imitate
the brutish Stork and Elephant
yea and the wailing cat.
If thou of force do chance to sneeze
then backwards turne away
from presence of the company
wherein thou art to stay.

To laugh at all things thou shalt heare,
is neither good nor fit,
it shewes the property and forme
of one with little wit.

If spitting chance to move thee so
thou canst it not forebeare,
remember do it modestly,
consider who is there.
If filthinesse, or ordure thou
upon the floore do cast,
tread out, and cleanse it with thy foot,
let that be done with haste.

If thou to vomit be constrain’d
avoyd from company:
so shall it better be excus’d
if not through gluttony.

Privy members:
Let not thy privy members be
layd open to be viewed,
it is most shameful and abhord,
detestable and rude.

Urine or wind:
Retaine not urine nor the winde,
which doth thy body vex,
so it be done with secrecie
let that not thee perplex.

And in thy sitting use a meane
as may become thee well,
not straddling, no nor tottering,
and dangling like a bell.

Observe in curtsie to take
a rule of decent kinde,
bend not thy body too far forth,
nor backe thy leg behind.

How to order a childe in his diet for [alcoholic] drinke:
For a childe to make the beginning of his dinner drinke is a good way to breed him up to drunkenesse. Especially if he take it for wanton custome, and not for necessity of thirst. It is dishonest to be suffered and anoysome to the body of a childe. Let not a childe drinke after he hath supt hot broth, immediately upon it; much lesse if he hath been fed with milke. Let not a childe drinke above twice or thrice at the most at one meale, and that gently, and not without reason: who bestoweth wine and beere on his childe beyond reason, defameth and abuseth him more by dishonouring his reason and provoking him to an unreasonable diet.’

© 2009-2013 All Rights Reserved

Custom Dining Food

Jacobean life – Dining



The daily dining habits of the average Jacobean Londoner share many similarities with those of us living in the 21st Century.  Three meals a day for those with the means, and snacks in-between for the nibblers.  Breakfast was usually taken between 6 and 7am and consisted of bread, with butter if it could be afforded, and perhaps some cold cuts of meat or slices of cheese. Weak beer was served as a staple accompaniment, since the river water in London was unfit to drink, and rainwater also needed to be filtered.

The aristocracy settled down to a heavy lunch between 11am and noon, while the working classes ate a little later; similarly supper for the idle rich was usually served at about 6pm, while the rest might not eat their evening meal until 7 or 8pm. The main meal of the day was lunch, or dinner, as it was then called. For those who had their own cooks, this meal might run to several courses and include soup, stewed meat, pies, bacon, more roasted meat, fish, vegetables, all rounded off with fruit tarts and cheese. Wine was served with each course, and a midday meal might run to several hours. The working man had to content himself with a hastily-grabbed tavern meal, or one snatched at home. It would have included at least one hot dish, often a roast, or pie, or stew, accompanied by more bread and beer.

Supper was something of a rerun of breakfast; cold meat, bread, beer and cheese. The aristocracy might extend this with the inclusion of more fruit and sweet dishes, and fine wine.
Cutlery was still at the rudimentary stage – spoons and knives were in use, but forks were still something of a new-fangled invention. It was customary to go through a ritual hand-wash with other diners prior to sitting down. The head of the household took his place at the table, the children and servants sat at the opposite end, or even in a different room at a different table if space were not an issue. It was a widespread practise in many households to expect children and servants to stand throughout a meal, as can be seen from the woodcut. After Grace had been said, knives were used to spear whatever food looked appealing and convey it to the plate, then fingers took over in place of a fork. Once the meal was over, diners might push away their empty plates and light up a pipe – tobacco was available at 3 pence a pouch.
Sources as for Jacobean Food

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