The 16th century

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Wednesday 29 September 2004 10.09am
I don't actually know how true these are, but they are very interesting nonetheless!!!

Some 'facts' about the 16th century:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water."

Houses had thatched roofs, thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence the saying "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would Get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway, hence the saying a "thresh hold."

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while, hence the rhyme, "Peas porridge hot, peas Porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot, nine days old."

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could "bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid Content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead Poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would Sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would Gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up, hence the custom of "holding a wake."

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or "upper crust."

England is old and small and the local folks started running out Of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a "bone-house" and re-use the grave. When re-opening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realised they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the "graveyard shift") to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was considered a "dead ringer."

Whoever said that History was boring !!!

Bien joué...
Wednesday 29 September 2004 11.41am
Sadly this lot of amusing urban legends is debunked here:

Sorry to be a killjoy, but as a history graduate I do feel some vague affinity for the veracity of what is asserted to be historical fact!
Wednesday 29 September 2004 12.47pm
Oh but that debunking is just as full of rubbish!

'Even a blind squirrel can find an acorn once in a while'.

Yes. But one without a sense of smell cannot. Just how do a squirrel's eyes help it to find a buried acorn? (The author may I suppose be intending to suggest that it is a lying acorn, rather than a buried acorn being sought. However, in that case, why use the delightful image of a squirrel? Hence 'squirrel away'.)

' It was said Henry VII's mother, Margaret Beaufort, was ruined by early childbirth (she bore Henry at age 13 and did not afterwards have other children though she was married four times), and Henry was not about to risk the succession of his line on another one-child mom.'

A once-child mom? Discuss. There's no doubt about the Lady Margaret Beaufort, though - except there is doubt as to the author's ability to give her the title which is her due.

'Modern cemeteries in many countries routinely rent graves for two to thirty years. At the end of that period, the bones are disinterred and reburied in accordance with that country's cemetery laws. Vancouver, BC, successfully uses a 30-year-renewable lease for its graves. In London, England, the wealthy have for many years obtained 99-year leases on their graves in prestigious cemeteries. (Graves for purchase, though, are scarce.)'

Tosh! Many 19th and 20th Century British graves are freehold. This has given rise to huge problems, where decaying huge Victorian memorials fall upon unsuspecting visitors. IIRC a Bill was prposed recently that the freeholds on graves should be revoked - just the sort of land-grab one would except of a Socialist Government like this one...

'As always, the bottom line is to take such missives with a grain of salt.'

The author must have pinched that one from somewhere.
Wednesday 29 September 2004 1.55pm
Excellent! The debunking debunked! Meta urban legends.
Wednesday 29 September 2004 5.48pm
has anyone (else) seen the "stop skunk odor" advert link at the top of this page?????

...if you press it, they will come.
Wednesday 29 September 2004 6.29pm
Ivanhoe wrote:
> has anyone (else) seen the "stop skunk odor"
> advert link at the top of this page?????

It only comes up if you select the thread title rather than read the latest post ???
With the number of mentions of smell in the first two posts, I could just understand ho Google's little American mind was operating,but "floor plans" remains a mystery...
Thursday 30 September 2004 3.33pm
Crushed... Thought it was all so interesting too...

Bien joué...
Thursday 30 September 2004 5.30pm
Ignore them R&M. After all, "official" history is never completely true. It's just (if we're lucky) someone's best interpretation of selected facts. It's just like that obvious history-chancer, Rabbie, the other week when he tried to insist that Ribena was better against scurvy than scrumpy, or some such arrant nonsese (TFIC Rabbie, as I'm sure you already know). Tosh, tosh, and tosh.

I think the generally accepted scholarly position of today's top historians is that we can make up whatever "history" we want, and frankly yours is funnier so I'd go with that every time.

Keep it up. I look fwd to hearing more "true" stories in due course.

(Can you try and make a few of them involve cider, please?)

...if you press it, they will come.
Friday 1 October 2004 11.21am
What use, Ivanhoe, is Ribena against Scrumpy?

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