April 2015 Monthly Meeting

Angela Jones – “The Tudor Merchant’s House in Tenby”

As I sat greeting members arriving for the monthly meeting I glanced up and for a few seconds became a time traveller, walking towards me was a Tudor maid, actually it was Angela Jones of the National Trust arriving to deliver a talk about the Tudor Merchant’s house in Tenby.
Using the heading “Survivor in Time” Angela gave a brief history of the property through its various stages of dereliction to the present day. The house is the oldest unaltered property in Tenby.

We were invited on a walk, figuratively speaking, and with the aid of modern technology through the dwelling. Firstly, into a display area, rather than a shop, here the merchant laid out his wares, small wooden bowls filled with spices the most valuable at the time being nutmeg. It was a sign of great wealth to extract from your pocket this small brown nut, so bear that in mind when next freely grating this over your rice pudding. Wooden casks containing various types of liquid beautifully fashion and capable of recycling at the end of their working days into quite comfortable looking chairs!

There are two upper floors, again these, through their decoration, reflecting this Tudor merchant was indeed a very rich gentleman. I found fascinating the sleeping arrangements, a beautiful four poster bed, however, overnight visitors also shared the bed not lying down but sitting up!

Angela gave a fascinating talk about the house and also explained her costume, under garments made of fine linen with a blue woollen dress. Whilst the under garments were periodically washed the dress, having been dyed using a vegetable dye, woad to treat this in the same way would have caused the dye to “wash out” and therefore there was need for an apron. However, the bodies they adorned did not undergo the same treatment, small wonder the original garden to the property incorporated a large herb growing area I suspect one use of these was to provide a bouquet to disguise a rather unsavoury smell about one’s person.

Penny Thomas
2 April 2015