The " home connoisseur " is very much interested in the actual articles which were in common use when English Society was being fashioned and the middle classes added to those who already possessed visible signs of wealth. Such merchants and others were founding families and building houses-in some instances the " stately homes of England "-not castles. We can understand that when the days of castles as homes were numbered-even before the Civil War brought the old for-tresses to ruins-there was a gradual alteration going on in the furnishing of the homes of the wealthy. As a matter of fact the Renaissance which was making such a change in all manners of art upon the Continent was working its way into the homes of the people of England. The darkness of the Middle Ages was being lifted and comfort was taking the place of severe ornament and formal
fig27 Silver Coffee Pot 1765
fig28 Two Handled Vase and Cover 1771
furniture. The sideboard or court cupboard was no longer a thing upon which silver and pewter, then almost antiquated, rested in solemn grandeur, only to be shown and used on rare occasions. The salt cellar had become a much smaller piece than in former times, and modern table appointments were coming into use, although in those days the fork was unknown as an article of common necessity. In inventories of old plate there is a curious mixture of ecclesiastical and domestic plate, and in some instances the descriptions given show the intermixture of ornament, for the designs for some of the pieces were often similar, and indeed many of the pieces of church plate were given by their donors from family stores. Mr. Pollen, in his well known book, " Gold and Silversmiths' Work," gives some interesting particulars of the silver plate of the Earls of Warwick. Earl Thomas in 1400, he tells us, bequeathed " an image of the blessed Virgin ; two cruets in the shape of angels ; his cup of the swan, and knives and saltcellars for the occasion of the coronation of a King." " amongst his table plate," Mr. Pollen says, were "two dozen silver dishes, twelve chargers, twelve saucers of silver, a pair of covered silver-gilt basins, four other basins, and four ewers of silver." There were also other vessels, including "a cup of gold." Mr. Pollen also quotes from the will of Sir Thomas Lyttleton, who died in 1487, and left a " basin of silver, ewer of silver, two great saltcellars, and a "kever" weighing ninety-three ounces ; a standing plain gold piece with plain gilt
kever, weighing twenty-four ounces ; six bolles of silver, in the middle of which being enamelled the six months of the year ; a standing piece with kever and two others ; a depe washing bason of silver, forty-one ounces ; two saltcellars, a kever to one of them weighing thirty-one and half ounces ; another of silver, all gilt, on the myddle of which be three eagles with kever weighing thirty-three ounces ; low piece of silver with a ` kever ; a dozen of best spoons ; four more saltspoons ; and several other pieces silver ; naming also a dozen spoones of the third sorte."
Many old families have records of stores of domestic plate, but only in rare instances have they pieces bearing hall-marks of that early date. No doubt the few rare and much valued survivals of once well stocked butler's pantries and sideboards were for various reasons hidden or saved when so much was being destroyed. Around these relies of domestic plate of the Tudor period hang many tales ; very interesting indeed would it be to unravel such mysteries and discover the true incidents-not merely legend or myth-to which we owe the survival of these isolated examples.
Among the sundry oddments met with occasionally are the curious bleeding dishes dating from Tudor times. The example shown in Figure 10 is, however, of a slightly later period having been hall-marked in London during the early years of the reign of Charles I. Figure 9 represents a plain tankard made during the last few years of the Tudor kings. Such tankards are found with increased frequency among the plate of the seventeenth century, in the early years of which they became the accepted type, passing quickly into one of the necessary articles of seventeenth century equipment.