Tudor Monastery Farm

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[edit] General Information

History Documentary hosted by Garaldine James, published by BBC in 2013 - English narration

[edit] Cover

Image: Tudor-Monastery-Farm-Cover.jpg

[edit] Information

Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold turn the clock back over 500 years to run a farm at the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum in West Sussex exactly as it would have been in 1500, during the reign of the first Tudor King, Henry VII.

[edit] Domestic Tasks

The farm team tackles domestic tasks, from lighting fires with flint, making meals with depleted crops during the Hunger Gap and using a tread wheel to fetch water from the well. Peter and Tom's first job is to move the sheep to fresh grass. Ruth makes a tallow light out of rushes and sheep fat, cooks the favourite Tudor dish of Pottage and performs the ritual of laying the table, an act full of Christian symbolism.

[edit] Wool Production

Wool production - known as 'the jewel in the realm' of the English economy, it accounted for around half the country's wealth. The monasteries capitalised on this massively, owning flocks that numbered thousands of sheep and keeping a virtual monopoly on the export of wool to foreign countries. Monastic tenant farmers were second to none when it came to exploiting the huge commercial potential of sheep farming.

[edit] Bread and Ale

The team focus on preparing staple foods of everyday Tudor life - bread and ale. With the monasteries owning much of the farmland, Ruth, Peter and Tom are well aware of the importance of praying for a successful harvest. They join their fellow parishioners in the tradition of 'beating the bounds' - circling the parish boundary while praying for a good yield. Peter and Tom join pig farmer Neal Careswell in weaning the piglets from their mother. Meanwhile, Ruth is in the woods trying to harvest wild yeast from the air for the bread-making, and Peter goes to a local windmill to help with the production of wheatflour. Tom also visits a foundry to help cast a new bell, while Peter helps harvest beeswax used to make candles.

[edit] Mining and Fishing

The monasteries' lands covered a variety of terrain, which would need to be exploited by the tenant farmer to raise income for themselves and the monastery. Lead was an important building material and Tom and Peter mine their own, using Tudor techniques while Ruth makes a stained glass window. On the rivers owned by the monastery, tenant farmers could rent fishing rights and Ruth makes baskets to catch eels in. Back on the farm, the team learn how aspirational tenant farmers would have decorated their farmhouses. Ruth produces a wall hanging and Tom experiments with a camera obscura, while Peter sees if his pigs are pregnant. The team's hard work is rewarded with a fine meal of eels in their newly decorated home.

[edit] Welfare

With no other provision for the poor, monasteries played a key role in providing welfare for those in need. But funding charity also meant extending hospitality to wealthy donors. The monastery restores a corrody room which would have been granted to an elderly worker as a form of pension. The room needs a new floor so limestone is gathered and roasted to make lime putty. Ruth is in charge of the home comforts and harvests rushes from the river to make a mattress. The Abbot is planning a big feast to entertain a patron - a good way to encourage the wealthier members of society to make large donations. Tom oversees the production of a book to give the patron as a gift, while Ruth lends a hand in the kitchen to produce some lavish dishes for the Abbot's table, and Peter distils wine into brandy. There is also a lesson in Tudor etiquette for Tom and Peter before the feast is served.

[edit] Harvest

They bring in the barley and celebrate with a harvest feast. Ruth makes salt so the team can preserve produce for the winter. The team also moves their recreation of monastic farming conditions to the end of King Henry VII's reign, when his son, Henry VIII, banished the Church of Rome and replaced it with the Church of England. Known as the Dissolution, this period would see the skills and crafts once monopolized by the monasteries dispersed. This sees Peter learn how to carve stone and make floor tiles, whilst Ruth makes some tudor medicines. The series ends with a celebration of all of the hard work undertaken over the course of the seasons. The team put on a mystery play to mark the occasion, whilst Tom makes fireworks with an alchemist as he prepares to take to the stage as Beelzebub.

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[edit] Technical Specs

[edit] HD

  • Video Codec: x264 CABAC High@L4.1
  • Video Bitrate: CRF 20 (~3660Kbps)
  • Video Resolution: 1280x720
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Frame Rate: 25 FPS
  • Audio Codec: AAC-LC
  • Audio Bitrate: Q=0.42 VBR (~128Kbps) 48KHz
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • Run-Time: 59 mins
  • Number of Parts: 6
  • Part Size: 1.51 GB (average)
  • Source: HDTV
  • Encoded by: JungleBoy

[edit] SD

  • Video Codec: XviD ISO MPEG-4
  • Video Bitrate: 1498 kbps
  • Video Resolution: 720 x 404
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 1.782 (~16:9)
  • Frames Per Second: 25
  • Audio Codec: 0x2000 (Dolby AC3)
  • Audio Bitrate: 128 kb/s 48000 Hz)
  • Audio Streams: stereo (2/0)
  • Audio Languages: English
  • RunTime Per Part: 59.Mins
  • Number Of Parts: 6
  • Part Size: 690 MB
  • Source: PDTV
  • Encoded by Harry65

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