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Episode 5

Historians run a farm in West Sussex exactly as it would have been in 1500. The team explores Tudor hospitality, learning how the monasteries courted wealthy benefactors.

Historian Ruth Goodman and archaeologists Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold explore hospitality in Tudor England. With no provision for the poor from the state, the monasteries played a key role in providing welfare and charity for those in need. But funding charity also meant extending hospitality to wealthy donors.

The monastery enlists the help of the team to restore a corrody room which would have been granted to an elderly worker as a form of pension. The room needs a new floor so the boys gather and roast limestone in order to make lime putty. Ruth is in charge of the home comforts and harvests rushes from the river to make a mattress.

The Abbot is planning a big feast to entertain a patron - a good way to encourage the wealthier members of society to make large donations. In preparation, Ruth sets about tackling the monastery's laundry, before taking on the cooking preparations.

Tom oversees the production of a book to give the patron as a gift. First he must learn how to make linen paper. He then experiences an exciting new technology - the printing press with moveable type - before embarking on the final stage of the process, book-binding.

Back on the farm the cows are short of food so Peter goes in search of tree hay - an ingenious form of fodder that pre-dates grass hay by millennia. The team reunites to bring in the pea harvest, their most successful crop yet.

The final preparations for the Abbot's feast are made, with Ruth lending a hand in the kitchen to produce some lavish dishes for the Abbot's table, while Peter distils wine into brandy. There's also a lesson in Tudor etiquette for Tom and Peter before the feast is served.

15 days left to watch

59 minutes

Audio described



Role Contributor
Presenter Ruth Goodman
Presenter Peter Ginn
Presenter Tom Pinfold
Producer Giulia Clark
Director Giulia Clark
Executive Producer David Upshal


  • Wed 11 Dec 2013 21:00
  • Thu 12 Dec 2013 23:20
  • Fri 13 Dec 2013 00:20
  • Thu 23 Jan 2014 09:05
  • Mon 14 May 2018 15:30
  • Fri 12 Feb 2021 14:00



Meet the experts slogging it in the fields of the Tudor Monastery Farm.

Tom's blog: 'The animals were definitely the stars of the show'

Tom's blog: 'The animals were definitely the stars of the show'

'None of us liked the geese'