‘“Pilgrim” Life’ Category

Saint George’s Day

April 27th, 2011 by admin

Good day, everyone! It was a long winter, but we’re finally seeing signs that spring is thinking of staying a while. And After months in hibernation, the English colonists are back in their canvas and wool suits; sharpening knives, repairing fences, and working diligently to improve the land that they’ve settled.

Last Saturday (the 23rd of April) was Saint George’s Day, a feast day observed by the English, Portuguese, Lithuanians and others. According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia, the historical Saint George was a martyr who may have been a Roman soldier in the third century, although that could be a fanciful invention. He may also have organized a Christian community in Iran, traveled to Britain as an emissary from the Emperor Diocletian, and possibly slain a dragon.

During the fourteenth-century reign of King Edward III of England, George was adopted as the patron saint of England, and went on to lead Henry V to victory over the French at the 1415 Battle of Agincourt. The Saint George’s Cross was the official flag of the English nation from the thirteenth century until the union with Scotland in the seventeenth. Any English flags displayed by the Pilgrims would have been either the Saint George’s Cross or the British flag, a combination of George’s Cross with the Saint Andrew’s Cross of Scotland.

Saint George’s greatest feat, according to the Christian legends, was his victory over the dragon that had ravaged the city of Silene in modern Libya. In true draconian fashion, the monster had so terrified Silene’s inhabitants that they had started offering their children as sacrifices, the victims to be chosen by lottery. It wasn’t until the king’s daughter was chosen to feed the beast that Saint George makes his appearance, wounding his foe with his spear. He waits to deliver the death-blow, however, striking off its head with his sword only after the king and fifteen thousand men accept Jesus Christ and are baptized.

A strange combination of knight-errant and wandering priest, George has since become associated with the triumph of Christianity over idolatry and sin, making him an attractive patron to the seventeenth-century nation of England and its isolated colony in Plymouth Bay. However, while the Church of England may have recognized Saint George’s Day as a legitimate celebration, the Reformists who governed New Plimoth most likely did not, as the day was not specifically referenced in the Bible. An interesting contrast in this tiny community, and one that could provide good conversation the next time you visit.

Aaron Dougherty
Interpretation Apprentice

Lessons from Henry Roach

April 6th, 2010 by admin

The day after Easter, on a postcard-perfect spring day, the Plimoth Plantation Interpretive Artisans Department welcomed former museum employee Henry Roach to come and show us how to make spars. Hank is a thatcher (having learned from the legendary Peter Slevin), basket maker, and all-around craftsman. He is a master of many forgotten arts and is an invaluable source of information. His willingness to share his knowledge, coupled with his sense of humor, made for very enjoyable and informative morning.

What are spars?

April 6th, 2010 by admin

Spars are the wooden “staples” that hold down thatch on a roof. They are driven into the thatch, across long sticks which run the length of the roof, to help secure the material. They are twisted from green wood such as maple, and each roof in our re-created English Village needs several hundred of them.

A sapling of about 1 1/2 inch in diameter and about 2 feet long, is split in half (sometimes quartered) with a tool called a bill-hook. The hook is also used to point the ends of the spar so it more easily can be driven into the thatch.

Twisting the spar

April 6th, 2010 by admin

Twisting the spar is particularly challenging. While it would seem an easy process, there is a surprising amount of subtlety in doing it correctly and efficiently.

Here, Hank has trimmed just enough of the wood away to make it easier to twist without breaking. He has left a ridge for his fingers to grasp, and with a deft twist of his right hand, bends the fibers of the sapling.

Perfectly positioned

April 6th, 2010 by admin

Here, Hank’s hands and fingers are perfectly positioned to twist the spar with a minimum of breaking. The tip of his right index finger makes a perfect mold to wrap the spar around. The few broken fibers on this spar have more to do with the material than with Hank’s technique.

Hands-On Demonstration

April 6th, 2010 by admin

Here, Hank is demonstrating just the right twisting motion to Interpretive Artisan Justin Keegan.

Many thanks to Hank for his time and his expertise. There is so much wisdom in the seemingly simple process of making a spar. We are fortunate to have Hank as both a resource and as a friend.

It’s Almost Time…

March 2nd, 2010 by admin

We will be, once again, opening the gates to our village (and the rest of the museum) to visitors on March 20th of this year. We hope all of you can plan on being in attendance.

And on opening day there will be a Farm Fresh Breakfast serving Scrambled eggs, Bacon/sausages, French toast casserole, biscuits & gravy, Corn & blueberry muffins, fruit salad, home fries, butter and preserves, assorted juices/milk, coffee/tea/decaf. Tax, tip and Museum Admission is included for: $32.00 for adults, ($15.00 for Museum Members), $22.00 for children ($10.00 for Child Museum Members).

If you’d like a FREE ticket to Plimoth Plantation, just stop by on Saturday March 13th, 2010 for our 18th annual Spring Clean Day.

“Spring Clean Day is a sign of winter’s end and a community tradition many look forward to! Volunteers are encouraged to invite a friend or enlist whole families to join Plimoth Plantation staff for a fun-filled day of planting, raking, painting, dusting, cleaning and the overall setup of museum exhibits and sites, as we prepare for the 2010 season. This harbinger of spring is a great opportunity to lend a helping hand. 
Registration begins at 9 AM, in the Visitor Center. Lunch will be served at 1 PM. Everyone will receive (with museum thanks!) a complimentary pass for a return visit to Plimoth Plantation in 2010 to admire the day’s achievements. All are asked to R.S.V.P. by Thursday, March 4, by calling 508-746-1622, 8210, or by emailing ppeters@plimoth.org.”

By the way, if you didn’t know, we’ve been having a Farmer’s Market here over the winter every third Thursday December through May. The upcoming ones are Thursday March 13, April 16, and finally May 21.

I hope I get a chance to see all of you this year. Stop by Stephen Hopkins’ house. He’ll look a lot like me.


Mooove It On Over!

February 20th, 2010 by admin

All’s well that ends well.


One House Goes Up and Another Comes Down

February 3rd, 2010 by admin

Pic 1

On Friday, January 29th, after a long, cold morning of “de-thatching” the soon to be razed Brown House in the English Village, we welcomed archeologist Tad Baker, chair of the History Department at Salem State College and other friends who stopped by the Plantation to conduct an informal but informative survey of timber decay patterns & the thrusts & stresses of a failing, 23 yr-old earthfast timber frame. It may sound a little dry, but it was anything but! The detective work that archeologists and framers apply to an old frame and the surviving bits left in and above the ground are as interesting as anything seen on CSI! There are important details to be gleaned on how a timber framed house–without a foundation–will eventually succumb to the ground and the elements, and we can use this valuable information to instruct us in the building of new houses, even as we gain rare insight into the past. We were very impressed as Tad rolled up his metaphorical sleeves on a frigid afternoon, knelt to the ground, trowel in hand, and looked for clues. Many thanks to Tad and friends for their expert help! These are essential relationships for Plimoth Plantation to keep and cultivate as we move forward in our research, understanding, and interpretation.

Pic 2
Michael French and Justin Keegan “de-thatching” Brown House. The reed will be recycled for repairs on the lower storehouse. The old and the new: View of the soon to be razed Brown House with the new Brewster House in the background.

Pic 3

Pic 5
Tad Baker examining sill and post decay of the Brown House. He is looking for patterns of what oak does after 23 years in the ground, and how that affects the overall structure. There is value and insight in making archeological comparisons between a “new” structure, and framing remnants from from centuries ago.

Pic 6
Digging outside looking for sill remnants in Brown House.

Rick McKee
Interpretive Artisan


December 15th, 2009 by admin


Since I didn’t ask for food pictures at the Embroidered Jacket event, there really aren’t any. People are gathered around what I know is the food, but the food itself isn’t really showcased. And it was really good. Kenny and the Creative crew did a fantastic job.
It looks like we’ll have to cook everything again for a photo shoot. Yep, somebody’s got to do it. Oh, the life of a Foodways Culinarian.
But on to mussels

To seeth Muscles.
Take butter and vinegar a good deale, parsley chopt small and pepper, then set it on the fire, and let it boile a while, the see the Muscles be cleane washee, and put them in the broth shelles and all, and when they be boyled a while, serve them shelles and all.
Thomas Dawson. The Second part of the Good Hus-wifes Jewell. 1597.
Mussels are easy. And this recipe is almost all you need to know.
To seethe mussels
Wash and pick over you mussels. Make sure the shells fit together tightly – no mud mussels or dearly departed for the pot. Scrub/tug the little beards off.
In a pot with a lid big enough to hold the mussels, put 1/2 cup butter (one stick) and 1/4-1/2 cup vinegar. Add 1/2 a bunch chopped fresh parsley. Bring to a boil. Add the mussels, shells and all. Put the lid on tight. After 5 minutes, carefully toss them withing the pan.It should take under 10 minutes for them to cook. You’ll know they’re done when they’re open. Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with the rest of the chopped parsley and enjoy.

Somethings never change. It’s not just the food, it’s the ways.

Colonial Foodways Culinarian

© 2003-2011 Plimoth Plantation. All rights reserved.

Plimoth Plantation is a not-for-profit 501 (c)3 organization, supported by admissions, grants, members, volunteers, and generous contributors.