I absolutly love this website and am on it nearly every day, I too am very interested in the tudors and mostly anne boleyn, I was wondering if you knew how often they bathed and what with? Also did they have there clothes washed and use perfume? Cause without the luxuries we have today I could imagine that they were all quite smelly.
Thank you for your very kind words, I'm glad you enjoy the site.
I've got a wonderful book by Alison Sim called "The Tudor Housewife" and in that she writes: "The Tudors washed themselves more often than we give them credit for" and goes on to explain that royalty had proper bathrooms - Henry had plumbed in bathrooms at Hampton Court and Whitehall - and that normal people used a wooden tub filled with water. They wouldn't bathe every day but "there was nothing to stop them washing themselves every day". Sim writes of a recipe for "a delicate washing ball" given by Sir Hugh Plat in his book "Delightes for Ladies", which was a recipe for scenting Castille soap. This soap was an expensive, imported toilet soap which was made from olive oil rather than the usual animal fat so it was used by wealthier ladies. Sim also writes of recipes for "hand or washing waters" which were scented with herbs or orange peel. As Tudor people ate with their fingers, they would wash their hands before meals and between courses.
As far as perfume is concerned, Sim writes of how there were many recipes for perfume and that scent containing spices was a real demonstration of a person's wealth, due to them being an imported luxury.
Pomanders were also popular in medieval and Tudor times. They were carried, held to the nose, suspended on chains or girdles or hung in rooms to ward off bad smells, freshen clothes and make the wearer smell nice. It was also believed that these sweet smelling herbs and spices could ward off infectious diseases and protect the wearer from illness. A pomander was a perfumed ball of some kind:-
- An orange studded with cloves and rolled in spices
- A lozenge or aromatic ball of substances like resin, gum, wax or dirt mixed with musk, rose petals, herbs and spices
- A perforated case of petals, herbs and spices
You can see some recipes for pomanders at http://www.theanneboleynfiles.com/resources/tudor-life/pomanders/
Tudor times were smelly but it was more the clothes and the streets that smelled, rather than the actual Tudor person.