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17th-Century Shopping List Discovered at English Country House

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

England Knole letter KENT, ENGLAND—Kent Live reports that a seventeenth-century shopping list was found under the floorboards at Knole, one of the largest historic country houses in England. The shopping list was written in 1633 by Robert Draper, who asked his friend Mr. Bilby to bring a fire shovel, pewter spoons, a frying pan, and “greenfish,” which refers to cod before it has been salted or cured, to Copt Hall. Draper also asked for the prices of these items. Scholars think that the quality of the handwriting suggests Draper was a high-ranking servant. But how did the letter get from Copt Hall to Knole House? In 1637, the daughter of the Earl of Middlesex, who owned Copt Hall, married the Earl of Dorset, who owned Knole House, and the contents of Copt Hall were eventually moved to Knole. “It’s extremely rare to uncover letters dating back to the seventeenth century, let alone those that give us an insight into the management of the households of the wealthy, and the movement of items from one place to another,” said Nathalie Cohen, regional archaeologist for England’s National Trust. To read in-depth about Knole House, go to “The Many Lives of an English Manor House.”

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