Our 5 Favorite Coronation Recipes
Coronation banquets were grand and formal affairs. The monarchs and their guests were dressed in their very finest and dripping with jewels sparkling in the candlelight. Endless elaborate dishes were served, music was played and one got to eat in the presence of the newly-crowned King and Queen.
It was also a wonderful opportunity for a royal meet-and-greet and a way to solidify the new monarch’s popularity and support by connecting with people, honoring them with his attention, and inspiring them.
In the time of the Plantagenets and Tudors Westminster Hall was the traditional venue for these royal banquets. It remained so until 1821 when William IV did away with the coronation banquet declaring it too expensive.
Richard III’s Coronation Banquet
Richard III in 1483 had no such sensibilities. Richard’s coronation was impressive and grandiose. He invited 3,000 people to his banquet. It began at 4 pm after the day-long Coronation at Westminster Abbey. It was July 6, a summer evening, and by the end of the banquet – possibly around 9 pm – it was dark.
The Hall was specially arranged for the banquet. It was decorated with flags and banners, featuring (of course!) the arms of the new king, Richard III, and his queen, Anne Neville. At the short end of the Hall was the High Table. It was made of marble and the King and Queen sat here.
The Queen sat on the King’s left. On the King’s right was the seat for the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop was 79 years old and, tired by the lengthy Coronation rite, did not attend. But his “deputy”, the Bishop of Durham, William Dudley, sat in his place.
Behind the Queen stood two noble ladies who held a cloth over the Queen when she ate or drank. The Countess of Surrey stood on the Queen’s right and the Countess of Nottingham stood on her left.
The Countess of Surrey was Elizabeth Howard, wife of Thomas Howard, Earl of Surrey and daughter-in-law of John Howard, Duke of Norfolk, the Earl Marshall. The Countess of Nottingham was Jane Berkeley, wife of William Berkeley, Earl of Nottingham. She was first cousin to Richard III as her mother and Richard’s mother, Cecily Neville, were sisters.
Two of Richard III’s squires sat at his feet during the banquet to give any service needed.
Who Sat Where
Four long tables were set up on the length of the hall.
One long table was headed by the Lord Chancellor and included all the bishops and prelates.
Another long table was the “Earls’ Table” at which were also seated the King’s Chaplain and the Mayor of London.
Another table was the “Barons’ Table” which included the Chief Judges, the chief barons of the Exchequer and other men of the law.
And the last long table was for the Queen’s ladies, including the Duchesses of Suffolk and Norfolk, and the Countess of Richmond (Margaret Beaufort, whose son would topple Richard from his throne just two short years later).
In addition to those actually seated in Westminster Hall at the four long tables with the King and Queen, there were separate seatings elsewhere for “the lordes and ladyes” and for “the comons.”
Plus, inside the Hall there were also two small stages, one for the minstrels and trumpeters and one for the heralds, at the far end of the Hall against the walls in the corners behind the high table.
Serving Dish after Dish after Dish
When everyone was seated, the first course was brought in. The dishes were preceded by trumpets. Then came Sir Robert Percy as Marshal of the Hall, the Earl of Surrey as Steward, Lord Lovell as Chamberlain, and Sir William Hopton as Treasurer. Finally, the most noble, high and mighty Duke of Norfolk as Earl Marshal (maybe on horseback – just imagine the hygiene issues!), and the Duke of Buckingham as the Great Chamberlain. They served the high table.
First served was the King, on gold plate; then the Queen on gilt plate; then the Bishop of Durham on silver plate. The seventeen newly-made Knights of the Bath brought in the dishes for the long tables.
The menu for the banquet was indeed elaborate and lavish. For those served at the four long banquet tables inside Westminster Hall, they received …
- Potage: frumentie with veneson and bruett Tuskayne [Frumentie – a dish of boiled wheat, milk, cinnamon, sugar etc. with venison and potage/broth Tuscan]
- Viand comford riall [Meat minced, spiced, pressed in a cloth, boiled and served in slices, “royal”]
- Mamory riall [Ssmall pieces of brawn, capon or partridge, “royal”]
- Bief and moton [Beef and mutton]
- Fesaunt in trayne [Pheasant with tail feathers displayed]
- Cignett rost [Roast cygnet]
- Crane rost [Roast crane]
- Capons of hault grece in lymony [Fat or crammed capons in lemon]
- Heronshewe [herons] rost [Roast herons]
- Gret carpe of venyson rost [Shredded or sliced venison, roasted]
- Grett luce in eger doulce [A large pike in a sweet-sour sauce]
- Leche solace [A sliced jelly]
- Fretor Robert riall [Fritter “Robert royal”]
- Gret flampayne riall [a large pie or tart decorated with points of pastry “royal”]
- Custard Edward planted [An open pie “Edward decorated”]
- A sotiltie [A subtlety is a showpiece confection, largely decorative, with a subject chosen for symbolism]
- Gely partied with a devise [A jelly, divided by a “devise”]
- Viand blanc in barre [White meat decorated with ornamental gold or silver strips]
- Pecokes in his hakell and trapper [Peacock with his neck feathers and tail plumage]
- Roo reversed in purpill [Roe turned inside-out to show the purple innards]
- Runers rost [Roast rail – a big, fat bird]
- Betorr rost [Roast bittern]
- Peiene rost [Roast pigeon]
- Partriche rost [Roast partridge]
- Pomes birt [Birtles, sweet summer apples]
- Scotwhelpes rost [Roast “knot,” a bird of the snipe family also called the red-breasted sandpiper]
- Rollettes of veneson farced [Rolls of venison, stuffed?]
- Gret carpe and breme in foile [Great carp and bream in foil]
- Leche frument riall planted [Sliced jellied frumentie “royal decorated’]
- Frettour rosett and jasmine [Fritters flavored with roses and jasmine]
- Tart burbonet bake [Unidentified baked tart]
- Venyson bake [Baked venison]
- A sotiltie [A subtlety]
- Blaundsorr [Chicken or fish stewed in wine and spices]
- Nosewis in compost [a dish composed of nuts in a stew or preserve of fruits or vegetables in wine and sugar.]
- Venyson rost [Roast venison]
- Telle in barre [Teal decorated with ornamental gold or silver strips]
- Langettes de lyre [Tongue-shaped pieces of brawn]
- Pety chek in bolyen [Small chicken in bullion?]
- Egrettes rost [Roast egrets]
- Rabettes souker rost [Roast suckling rabbits]
- Quailes rost [Roast quail]
- Briddes brauncher rost [Young birds roasted]
- Freshe sturgion with fenell [Fresh sturgeon with fennell]
- Creves de ew doulce [Freshwater crayfish]
- Leche viole and canell [Sliced jelly flavored with violet? and cinnamon]
- Frittour crispe [Crispy fritters]
- Rosettes florished [Garnished rosettes?]
- Oranges bake [Baked oranges]
- Quynces bake [Baked quinces]
- A sotilty [A subtlety]
For the Lords and Ladies, the menu was pared down to two courses. They were fed…
- Vyand riall [Meat “royal”]
- Bief and multon [Beef and mutton]
- Grene ges rost [A very young bird, roasted]
- Capon rost [Roast capon]
- Lardes de veale [Thin slices of veal]
- Pike in erblad [Pike in a tart with herbs]
- Leche siper [Sliced “Cyprus” jelly]
- Fretor covert [Covered fritters]
- Custard riall [Open tart “royal”]
- A sotiltie [A subtlety]
- Viand blanc in barre [White meat decorated with ornamental gold or silver strips]Crane and heronshewe [Crane and herons]
- Kidd endorred and lambe [Kid glazed with egg yolk and lamb]
- Roo reversed [Roe reversed, turned inside out]
- Chek in bolien [Chicken in bullion?]
- Rabettes rost [Roast rabbit]
- Sturgion and crevz de dudoulce [Sturgeon and freshwater crayfish]
- Leche caniell [Sliced jelly flavored with cinnamon]
- Close tart indorred [A tart with a top crust, glazed with the yolk of an egg]
- Crismatories and oranges bake [A sweet dish mainly made of cream and oranges baked]
- A sotelty [A subtlety]
And the commoners dined on just one course…
- Frumenty with venyson [Frumentie – a dish of boiled wheat, milk, cinnamon, sugar with venison]
- Bief and multon [Beef and mutton]
- Capon rost [Roast capon]
- Bief rost [Roast beef]
- Leche canell [Sliced jelly flavored with cinnamon]
- Custard [An open tart]
After the first course was finished and cleared, the second course was brought in with the same ceremony. (Did the commoners just sit back at this point and watch with admiration as everyone else ate? Rude by modern standards to be sure.)
The Gauntlet is Thrown
During the second course, the King’s Champion, Sir Robert Dymock, rode into the hall, fully armed, dressed in crimson damask with gilt spurs, on a horse trapped to the ground with red and white silk.
He stopped before the king’s table, “making Proclamacion that whosoever would say that King Richard was not lawfull King, he would fight with him at the utterance, and threw downe his Gauntlett.”
There was a pause (silent, of course). Everything then shouted “King Richard”! Dymock, still mounted, was brought a covered cup containing red wine. He drank some, emptied out the rest and rode out, keeping the cup as his “fee” (ye olde party favor!).
Then eighteen heralds, including the four kings of arms (Garter, Norroy, Clarenceux and Gloucester), all four of whom wore crowns, came down from their stage and the Garter King of Arms proclaimed that Richard was King of England and France and Lord of Ireland. They then cried “largess” two or three times and returned to their stage.
There had been long pauses in food service at the banquet as Richard went around speaking with people, in a medieval royal version of “working the crowd.” By this time, it was so late that the third course could not be served.
Instead of the third course, only hippocras (spiced wine) and wafers (a medieval version of digestive biscuits) were served to the King and Queen by the Mayor of London (a long-established right) in covered cups of gold. The Mayor kept the covered cups as his “fee.” (Another party favor!)
Then, the lords rose and made their homage to the King. The King and Queen left and retired to their chambers. Everyone else departed as well and the grand coronation banquet was over.
For Your Dining Pleasure
It’s doubtful that we shall ever be invited to attend a coronation banquet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t serve a coronation banquet in your own home.
Here in the e-Royalty kitchens, we’ve selected five of our favorite and most tantalizing recipes for you to enjoy in your own home. And we confess, they are perhaps the simplest to make. ( Except for the peacock dish. It’s tough to find peacock nowadays, although chicken may substitute.)
Simple they may be, but they are fit for a King or Queen. Enjoy! And, if you really want to catch the spirit, next time you’re in London visit Westminster Hall. It can be accessed during the official tours of the Houses of Parliament and is, in fact, the gathering point.
Potage: frumentie with veneson and bruett Tuskayne [Frumenty with venison and Tuscan broth]
Period recipe for frumenty in ye olde language:
For to make furmenty. NYM (take) clene wete (wheat), and bray it in a morter wel, that the holys (hulls) gon al of, and seyt (seeth) yt til it breste (burst), and nym yt up, and lat it kele (cool), and nym fayre (clean) fresch broth, and swete mylke of almandys, or swete mylke of kyne, and temper yt al. And nym the yolkys of eyryn (eggs). Boyle it a lityl* and set yt adon (down), and messe yt forthe wyth fat venyson and fresh moton.
[Richard Warner. Antiquitates Culinariae. London: 1791, p. 37]
Translation of ye olde frumenty recipe:
Frumenty is hulled wheat boiled in milk and flavored with sugar and spices. TO make it, you take clean whole wheat and pound it in a mortar to loosen and remove the outer hulls. Simmer the wheat in water until it swells and is soft. Take it up and let it cool, then add water (commonly seasoned with saffron and a little brown sugar) and either milk or almond milk. Heat the mixture and thicken with raw egg yolk. After it cooks for a while serve it with sliced venison cooked in Tuscan broth.
Period recipe for Tuscan Broth in ye olde language:
Boil fresh broth fair and well;
Therein cast parsley, hyssop, savory,
That is hacked small by any way.
Mix it with flour or bread therefore,
Color it with saffron for the mastery;
Cast powder of pepper and cloves thereto,
And take your [venison] before you do more,
And put therein; boil all together
And serve it forth for tuskyne dear.
[Richard Morris, ed. Liber cure Cocorum.(Sloane MS. 1986). Published for the Philological Society by A. Asher & Co., Berlin. 1862, p. 44].
Translation of ye olde Tuscan broth recipe:
Heat beef and/or chicken stock, adding finely chopped parsley, hyssop and savory. Thicken with flour or bread crumbs, then add saffron, pepper and cloves and cook slices of venison therein. Note: the original recipe is for a broth in which to cook meatballs before tomato sauce was known in Italy.
21st-Century Adaptations – You can use wheatberries for frumenty (they do not need to be pounded if you buy them in the box), season as described above. Serve with venison slices simmered in Tuscan broth. If venison is not available, lamb would be a nice luxurious substitute.
Period recipe for leche (pronounced “leach”) in ye olde language:
Take gode cowe mylke, and parsel, and grinde hit, and tempur hit up withe the mylke, and do hit in a pot, and take egges and sethe pork, wel enterlarded, and hewe hit final, and medel hit together, and let hit sethe; and after thow hase so done, take divers pottes, and do in hom mylke, and egges, and porke, thus medelet as tofore; and make hom of dyvers colours, some with saffron, and make hom zelowe, and another with saunders and saffron, and another with amydoun [starch], and another with turnesole, and another with alkenet [Alkanna tinctoria Red dye roots] , and another with ynde (indigo), and another blacke, with sothen blode and crustes of bred fried, drawen thurgh a streynour; then take al thi vesselles, and sethe hom, and lay hom on a faire clothe, one upon another, and presse hom wel, tyl al the sewe be oute clene, and when thai byn clene, leche hom thyn (cut them in thin slices), and frie hom a lytel in faire grefe, and serve hom forthe.
[Richard Warner. Antiquitates Culinariae. London: 1791, p. 63.]
Translation of ye olde leche recipe:
A leach is a blancmange-like pudding made with milk or almond milk, cooled to solidity and served in slices. Assuming that “solace” in this instance refers to a dish that is entertaining and cheerful, here is a recipe that produces a multicolored result.
For a green leach, for example, finely chop a bunch of parsley and add milk to it in a pot. Take a piece of cooked larded pork (with strips of fat drawn through the meat), pulverize it smoothly, then simmer it in the milk mixture that is thickened with beaten eggs. Repeat the process for other colors, using saffron for yellow, saffron and red sandalwood powder for orange, amydoun (wheat starch) for white, turnsole (Chrozophora tinctoria) for blue, alkenet (Alkanna tinctoria) for red, indigo for another shade of blue, and scorched bread crumbs with cooked blood for black.
Put the combined layers of leach in a cloth and press to strain out excess liquid. Set aside to cool. Cut into thin striped slices, and fry in a little fat before serving.
21st-Century Adaptation – a milk-based pudding, made in colored layers and then sliced.
Pecokes in his hakell and trapper [Peacock in his neck feathers, whole]
Period recipe for peacock in ye olde language:
Take and flee off the skynne with the fedurs (feathers), tayle, and the nekkc, and the hed theron; then take the skyn with all the fedurs, and lay hit on a table abrode; and strawe theron grounden comyn; then take the pecokke, and roste hym, and endore (baste) hym with rawe zolkcs of egges; and when he is rosted take hym of, and let hym coole awhile, and take and sowe hym in his skyn, and gilde his combe, and so serve hym forthe with the last cours (course).p.63
Translation of ye olde peacock recipe:
Flay or skin the peacock taking care to preserve the feathers, tail, neck and head as a single whole unit. Flatten the skin on the table and strew the inner side with ground cumin. Roast the body of the bird, basting it with raw egg yolk to form a golden coating. Let the cooked bird cool then sew it back into the feathered skin and arrange to look as lifelike as possible, adding gold foil to the comb like a little crown. Serve it as the centerpiece of the last course of the dinner.
21st-Century Adaptation: This is more of a curiosity than something that I can imagine reproducing. Although one could try it with a chicken or turkey perhaps.
Frettour rosett and jasmine [Fritters flavored with rosewater and jasmine water]
Period recipe for fritters in ye olde language:
With egges and floure in batere thou make,
Put berme ther to, I undertake;
Coloure hit with safrone er thou more do;
Take powder of peper and cast ther to,
Kerve appuls overtwert and cast therin,
Frye hom in grece, no more ne mynne.
[Richard Morris, ed. Liber cure Cocorum.(Sloane MS. 1986). Published for the Philological Society by A. Asher & Co., Berlin. 1862, p. 39-40]
Translation of ye olde fritter recipe:
Make a batter of (milk), flour and eggs and barm (brewer’s yeast), and add saffron for a golden color. Instead of the pepper and apples in the original fritter recipe, flavor the fritters with rosewater to which jasmine has been added. Add the flower water into the fritter batter with a little sugar or honey, and fry lightly in fat or butter.
To make the flower water, put rose petals and jasmine flowers in water in a sealed jar, and set it in a sunny place for a week or two, then strain and use in the recipe.
21st-Century Adaptation – a baked yeast-risen fritter/doughnut recipe shouldn’t be hard to find. For the flower water, it is important to note that you should NOT use rose oil or jasmine oil. Rosewater flavoring can be purchased, the easiest way would be to add jasmine flowers to rosewater.
5. Venyson bake [baked venison pasty or pie]
Period recipe for venison pasty/pie in ye olde language:
To bake Venison …
Take leane Venison or Mutton, and take out all the sinewes, then chop your flesh verie small, and season it with a litle pepper and salt, and beaten Cloves, and a good handful of Fennel seeds, and mingle them all together. Then take your Larde, and cut it of the bignesse of a goose quill, and the length of your finger, and put it in a dish of Vinegar, & all to wash it therin. Then take meale as it doeth come from the mil, and make paste with colde water, and see that it be verie stiff: then take a sheet, and make a laying of the minsed flesh vpon the sheet, of the breadth that your Lard is of length, then make a laying of your Larde vpon your flesh, and let your Larde be one from another, the breadth of one of the peeces of the Larde, and so make foure layings of Lard, and three layings of flesh one vpon the another, so presse it downe with your hands as hard as you can for breaking the paste and cast in a handfull of Pepper and salt, & beaten Cloves, so close up your paste, & let it bake two houres.
[The good Huswifes Handmaide for the Kitchin. London: Richard Jones, 1594, pp. 17v, 18r.]
Translation of ye olde venison pasty/pie recipe:
Mince a piece of venison and season it with pepper, salt, powder of cloves and fennel seed. Cut a sheet of pork fat into thin quarter-inch wide strips about three inches long and soak them in vinegar. Roll out a simple flour and water paste and make a “coffin” or pie shell about four inches wide and ten inches long. Put a layer of minced meat in it, then add a layer of pork strips crosswise a quarter inch apart. Repeat with three more meat and pork strip layers. Press the layers down firmly without cracking the shell, pour in more pepper, salt and cloves and seal the crust. Bake for two hours.
21st-Century Adapatation – the 16th-century recipe says venison or mutton, perhaps substitute ground lamb for the venison, depending on taste and availability. This could be a pie or a pasty.