Life in the 1500s
People took their yearly bath in May and in June still smelled quite good,
So that’s when marriages took place, a fact well understood,
But the bride was beginning to pong a bit when she came to her big day
And so to hide the odour she carried a bouquet.
Bath day was quite an important event, hot water was poured in a tub,
The man of the house went first of course to have a darned good scrub,
The men servants then all had their turn, followed by wives and daughters,
The children and babies were left to the last - you can imagine the state of the water.
It was really so mucky that it wasn’t too difficult to lose a baby in it,
Hence the saying, when you empty the bath don’t throw out the baby with it.
The floors in the houses of ordinary people were only made of dirt,
So if by any chance they fell they didn’t get badly hurt.
The wealthy on the other hand had floors that were made of slate
But they were slippery in winter which wasn’t all that great.
So they covered them with something called thresh - another name for straw,
And as the winter gradually wore on they added more and more,
It started slipping outside the door but then lo and behold,
A piece of wood was placed in the doorway - the invention of the threshold.
Food was cooked on an open fire in a great big iron pot,
Every day they added things, whatever they had got,
Mostly it was vegetables as they didn’t have much meat,
It must have been very boring having the same old things to eat.
They’d eat most of the stew for dinner - the leftovers got cold overnight,
More food was added the next day and the fire was set alight.
So - pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,
Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old.
The rich had plates made of pewter which contained a quantity of lead,
This reacted with food with a high acid content and lead poisoning left people dead.
They’d lay out the body for a couple of days in case they’d made a mistake,
And wait to see if the corpse would wake up - hence the custom of holding a wake.
We tend to look down on those people of old and deride their customs so quaint,
What makes us so special I ask myself, the be-all and end-all we ain’t,
In four hundred years they’ll say about us “what primitive lives they led,
How could they have been so ignorant” - so just keep that in your head.