Snordwich Chronicles, VII: The Tenants’ Feast

There is another service in the morning. This time Lord Snordwich attends, bringing with him three Crafthole choir boys and their master.

Francis the brewer’s wife, who loves children, thinks their hymn is the most beautiful sound she has ever heard.

The villagers emerge from the church to see that a light snow has fallen.

Together they walk up the hill to attend the Nativity feast put on for them each year at Plumbob Hall.

Even Beatrice and Avice are able to attend. Their daughters are both still young, but for the rest of the day they have left them in the care of Triston, an orphan the Brewers took in as a young boy.

Each of the families brings a gift for his lordship’s kitchen. Henry Brewer presents seven bottles of nectar.

By the time supper is ready, the snow has all melted away, but the villagers are still glad of the roaring fire and warming food.

A juggler entertains his lordship’s guests as they eat.

There are only just enough seats for everyone in the hall, and the Brewers are slotted in very close to the high table itself, with a young clerk from Crafthole and poet John Gillian. Gillian tells them he has prepared a mumming to be presented by the household as part of the day’s festivities.

The guests at the high table eat more courses than the lesser folk. While they feast on fried pigeon, stuffed pastries, and cheese, the lower tables are cleared away and his lordship’s gentlemen perform the mumming, miming along as Gillian narrates heroic episodes from the life of their master’s grandfather, the First Baron Snordwich.

The story ends with a dance, in which the whole household rises to join.

That night, the snow starts to fall again.

At sunrise, Francis sends Triston to the bakery to buy a loaf of bread.

It is his job to look after the brewer’s horse Speckle, but Francis is so attached to the animal that she usually feeds him herself.

The brewing season has been over for a week, so the couple’s own workload is relatively light. After she has spent some time with Speckle, Francis wipes down the tables, mends a fraying apron, and prepares her husband’s lunch.

Henry is very particular about everything he eats and insists on making the final touches.

He is joined for his meal by John Cotter, who has been sent from his home while his wife gives birth.

In the afternoon, Parson Reviers arrives to bless the tavern’s doorway in preparation for the new year.

The brewer thanks him with bread and nectar.

That evening, the villagers see in the new year together.

Some of their wives are absent, still helping Goodwife Cotter through her childbed pains. Just after sunset, Elvina rushes in to tell John than he is now father to a baby boy.

The festivities continue late into the night. Geoffrey and William sing a drinking song with far too many verses.

Triston has never liked early mornings, but after such a late night he is especially bleary-eyed.

Francis does not feel well either.

Luckily, the household’s only responsibility that day is to attend the the naming ceremony of the Cotters’ boy. The family is poor, but they provide a hearty enough lunch of dense brown bread, pickled vegetable stew, and cups of Farmer’s Harvest. During the meal, Francis asks Eda Jardine about her sickness, and is delighted to hear the explanation: she is with child.

Back at home, she shares the good news with Henry.

The following morning, Triston is rides off to the Crafthole market to purchase supplies for the baby and its naming feast.

John Gillian stops at the tavern on his way home from Plumbob Hall. He pays for his supper with a poem about a princess and a dragon.

Jaclyn is captivated.

Upstairs, Eda guides Francis through her delivery.

She gives birth to twin boys.

As she recovers, she is visited by the baker’s wife and daughter.

On Saturday morning, Francis is receives her blessing at the village church and her sons are given the names their parents have chosen – Richard for the first born, and Ralf for his twin brother.

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10 thoughts on “Snordwich Chronicles, VII: The Tenants’ Feast

  1. More festivities…I am growing fat(ter) with every chapter! Perhaps I need to do some of those chores to wear it off. =) I love the blessing of the tavern door!! Thank you for a great chapter, again!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Another great chapter. All these food descriptions make me want to get a snack I must say. 😛 I couldn’t begin to imagine how hard it would be to have two babies during this time period.

    Liked by 1 person

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