Ingatestone Hall was on television again when the visit of Queen Elizabeth I's to Lord Petre's stately home in 1561 was recalled. The BBC has been running a series "Supersizers go ... " in which Giles Coran and Sue Perkins don the costume of an historical period for a week and eat their way through the food of the time. In truth Coran is always the wealthy merchant so does not survive of bread and gruel in every programme as my ancestors probably did. Last night it was the turn of the Elizabethans.
In the final sequence (day 7) they meet Lord Petre at Ingatestone Hall for a dinner fit for a Queen. His guests included the local Vicar and a lady from the WI. The dinner included, as a first course, goose in sorrell sauce and roast sucking pig with manchet bread and claret, followed by a second course including Battalia Pie (containing various meats including oysters and lambs' testicles) and a fine 'banquet' of sweet fruit. To entertain the ladies live frogs jumped out of pastry cases and a pie created which had a pig's bladder filled with wine which when cut bled! (I'll have a green salad please).
We know much about the Royal Visit to Ingatestone Hall because the "shopping lists" have been kept. F G Emmison in his book 'Tudor Secretary' devotes a chapter to the occasion. William Petre, one of our first civil servants, managed to survive the reigns of Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth I because he kept his mouth shut: a highly diplomatic and face saving (or should that be 'head saving') move.
'Supersizers Go ... Elizabethan' is repeated on Saturday 21 June and is available on I player.
Preview by national daily newspaper
See the programme on I Player