The Kitchen

The Kitchen


Gardiner’s Company is developing a site to hold period events and educational activities. The vision is to have period buildings and structures that would further the group impression as a Trayned Band and our individual personal impressions.


Through the years, the Company cooks have produced amazing dishes cooking over a ground hearth.  The first project in this vision is a period free-standing kitchen structure as might be found on larger Tudor estates.  This will eventually connect to other structures, including an inn. 


Construction details

Company members designed and planned the kitchen to be built using Company labor and local professionals with modern materials.  

The rear portion of the kitchen is brick and serves as a smoke hood to funnel smoke up the chimney and away from the kitchen and the cooks.

The framing was done in the traditional manner, using period joinery, albeit cut with modern tools.

Without a fulltime caretaker, wattle and daub would break down quickly.  Instead, the frame infill is cement board which is covered with a lime plaster.   

The kitchen contains a raised hearth for open fires, and a wall oven for baking. 

To one side are charcoal braziers, and a cauldron for heating water. 

The interior is finished off with a brick floor.

To facilitate serving, a dresser – a kind of counter – was installed on one side.  Servers take finished dishes from the dresser to the tavern without having to enter the kitchen.

Final construction will include installing shutters and an oak door, building a table for food preparation and storage shelves.

The kitchen serves not only as the center of the Company’s period recreations, it will be used to conduct open workshops on period cooking, experimenting with new dishes and cooking methods. And of course, the occasional pizza party.

The Gardiner’s site is beautifully set in a wooded area, with area for camping, archery, lawn games, and many other activities.


The Kitchen. Still.

Chapter 2,806: When Will It End?

Since last we left our intrepid (insipid?) builder, the inside was nearing completion. I am happy to report that it is finished – almost.

The cauldron is done, the loading/cleanout door in place. There’s a need for rope caulk around the top, which will be done the next time it’s fired.

The inside plastering is done, thanks to a stalwart crew that came out Labor Day weekend. They were, and are, a special bunch.

Special they are, but you can’t argue with the results.

With the plastering done, the floor could be laid. This was a job for a professional, and it was worth it.

All that remains inside is to finish the oven (which is already usable), and the shelves, shutters and doors. The outside has some plastering to finish. The oven and plastering will have to wait for warmer weather.

Even so, the current state is pretty awesome.

The Kitchen — Another Sequel

Chapter 36 — I am set on fire

So the cauldron corner has a doorway for the placement of fire wood or charcoal (preferred). I managed to find a plain cast iron one that was *mostly* the right size.

that’s it, down there

Owing to some physical issues, when I constructed the cauldron corner, the angle iron at the top of the opening ended up less-than- level. This made the left side too narrow for the new door frame. Rather than try to cut cast iron, I opted for cutting the brick at the top of the opening. This went well, until I ran into the angle iron.

Normally, cutting angle iron is no big deal. Metal blade on the grinder works quickly, albeit with a dramatic shower of sparks. Of course, that’s standing at a flat work surface. Cutting angle iron already cemented to brick, on the underside of the top of an opening only 13″ off the floor, where you lying in a 24″ wide nook is not like that. Except for the shower of sparks.

Yes, I wore eye protection, a face mask, and ear protection. I did not, however, have sideburn protection. As a result, I got side-burned, that is to say, a cascade of sparks were shot at me as the iron surrendered to the grinder. The tiny, ~1,000 degree grains of burning metal mostly just landed on the left side of my face, left arm and chest area, some on the top of my head. Nothing I couldn’t stand for, oh, 10 seconds or so, after which I had to stop and put myself out.

Anyway, the door frame’s in. Yay. Pictures later, after the adhesive dries, the door is installed, and I am back to a normal temperature.

(Seriously, I WAS ON FIRE!)

(But I got better)


CHAPTER 12 – I am Eaten by Cement

Day Who-Cares after Slabbing

The brazier bases were mortared with a surface bond cement; this type of build doesn’t require mortar between the blocks, but is parged on the outside. It’s quite stable for block not subjected to lateral forces. It also dries to a white finish, eliminating the need to limewash it.

With the help of two stalwarts, the slab tops for the brazier were poured and installed. For those interested, we used a reverse mold with fast curing cement, ready to un-mold in an hour.

Two masked stalwarts

Two pieces for the cauldron corner, then the two long sections, one with the braziers.

No, it’s not a communal toilet. Jerks.

The iron was installed to keep the brick top from falling onto the cook’s toes, ruining both shoen and supper. A stove gasket was installed around the cauldron opening to keep smoke from seeping out into the cook’s faces, ruining coifs and moods. For the top I used paver bricks, as we have a couple of hundred of them and they have a nice period look. Once they were cut and fitted, they were mortared into place.

The slabs, which are cement grey, sit on top of the brazier base, which is pretty white, so the slab edges needed parging. I used the surface bond to match the color.

The cauldron corner also got a parge coat. Possible touch-ups will be done after it all cures a bit.

All that remains is to mount a door over the fire box under the cauldron to prevent smoke from seeping out and ruining…well, you know.

Next on the list is the demolition of the oven front, which cracked during the last muster. Once done with that, we’ll finish the walls of the oven and parge it white. It won’t stay that way, but that’s period, too.

If it’s okay for Hampton Court…


Day 2008 after Slabbing*

Enhancements continue apace, after an interminable period of heat/rain/humidity/heat/repeat. Now, as cooler weather enfolds us, various interior projects can be addressed. The Finishing of the Ceiling, as previously reported, allows for work under its cloud-like proscenium without danger of drips, spills, and avalanches of lime paint.


Eschewing the plastering of the interior gables as merely aesthetic, your Reporter opted for the more practical brazier construction along the West wall.

First, due to the lengthening shadows, temporary shutters were built for a window on each side, East and West. They make it much brighter inside, and allow for more air. Then the flooring under the brazier — a combination of fire brick, cored brick, and flooring brick — was mortared to the slab, paver-style. Once dried, a first course of block was set atop.

The rather tricksy corner was set with angle iron; wood will be attached to the iron, and a cement board panel will be attached to them, to be later parged over, much like the walls have been. I was most pleased with the result.

Aaand then I realized I had to install the angle iron block supports over the ash pits, meaning I needed more iron and a few more block. Those acquired, I marked where they had to be trimmed, and the angle cut away to slide between the blocks.

Aaand the generator stopped working. That meant a trip to the garage with the grinder to make the necessary cuts. That completed, your intrepid returned to place and cement the iron into place.

Owing to the fact that the timber framing was not done to cinder-block dimensions (nor was it supposed to be), one of the pits was slightly wider than the standard block width of sixteen inches. The extra space was exactly the dimension of a half fire brick, which is larger than the block in some dimensions, so back to the garage, this time to cut the brick with the masonry saw. Then back down to cement the cut bricks into place.

Please note that all this was not done in a day; rather a fortnight (no, not the game).

The generator has been picked up for servicing, and is not needed for the surface bonding of the brazier piers, the next endeavor. Once that is completed, the cauldron area will be walled in with fire brick. Then, all will be ready for the building and installing of the slabs for the top.

In all, a tiring but satisfactory progress. There are several other things that will need doing in time before the winter freeze is upon us. Hopefully, it will hold off.


*Yes, it’s been that long

Lombardy Custard (A Baked Mete)

Today, the recipe for a Lombardy Custard.

picture by Andrea Ewing Callicutt, 2019

Custards (called “baked meats”), both sweet and savoury, were considered meat dishes, as the cream and eggs used in the recipe came from animals. Custards could be eaten during Lent and on “fish days”, when no meat (pork, beef, chicken, lamb/mutton) was permitted. This recipe is from the 15th Century, and serves 6.

You will need:

  • 9″ pastry round
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins (sultanas), cut in half
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates, diced
  • 2 dried figs, diced
  • 1 tsp ground mace (you can substitute allspice for mace)
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 cups of cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground saffron
  • 1 large pinch saffron strands for decorating

Pre-heat oven to 400F. Line the base of a quiche dish with parchment paper. Lay pastry round in quiche dish, prick all over with a fork. Bake for 10 minutes at 400F. Remove from oven, set aside to cool for about 15 minutes.

Reduce oven to 350F.

Mix the dried fruit, then arrange it in the cooled pastry in one even layer. Mix remaining ingredients, except for the saffron strands, and pour into pastry over fruit. Sprinkle the saffron strands gently on top. Bake for 1 hour at 350F. The custard will still be a bit soft; let sit for 15-30 minutes to set, or allow to cool and refrigerate.

Custard can be served hot or cold (I think hot is tastier).

Kitchen – Raising the roof

Soon, we will be starting the process of raising the roof of our humble kitchen. Similar to the raising of the main part of the kitchen, the work will be done during work weekends, with a large raising at the end.

The rafters will be easier and harder than the lower structure. Easier, because there are less joints to cut and layout and the joinery is simpler in general. Harder because the precision needs to be more, well, precise.

I know that while working with Bob, I drove him (and others) a bit crazy because for some joints, my response when asked, “is this okay?” I’d say, sure, close enough. For other joints, however, the answer would be, “No, throw that one away and we’ll make another one”.

A timber-frame from the Tudor/Elizabethan era tended to be over done, both in required supporting pieces and in the size of the timbers themselves. The builders of the past didn’t have

Report on the Great Muster 1597

Master Robert Bedingfield’s Report on the Great Muster of Gardiner’s Company of the London Trayned Bandes the fourteenth day of October 1597

By Order of Captain Gardiner, a Very Great Muster of the Company was held the week before St. Luke’s at the Cat’s Perch Inn, wherein the Company did receive good service and drink.

The Cat’s Perch having been stolen some years before is (still) in a rebuilding year and has recently completed for the most part a Very Great Kitchen, missing only a roof, door, shutters, a proper dresser, shelving, an oven, a brazier, interior walls and floor befitting it.

An abundance of very satisfying and wholesome meat was served, as well as the Cat’s Perch’s well-famous Incredibly Strong Ale, and was admired and consumed in quantities large by the Company.


The cooks did prepare our meals upon an open hearth and expressed satisfaction with the kitchen’s accommodations


The cooks did prepare our meals upon an open hearth and expressed satisfaction with the kitchens accommodations.

Butter was churned,

The Company fed well,

I know not this “chipotle”

and all had a Very Fulsome and Satisfying Dinner.


Drill was the Order of the Day (see what I doth there), with the Pike making a Very Ardent, if Unskilled show of its prowess, to the Delight of Fanny, the Innkeep.

Later in the Day, the Pike did hone their skill by trimming the shrubbery.

a fine hedge

The Company’s Shotte was also Very Well Accounted in practice.

Give fire. FIRE, I say.
Bang. BANG, I say.

The practice of Sword was not neglected and the Company acquitted itself in its use Very Respectfully.

The pointy end go in…OWW!


There was after the Dinner a competition of a Popinjay Shoot, sponsored by Capt. Gardiner and overseen by Master Bedingfield, who had previously engaged with the Innkeep to procure a Popinjay for this purpose.

When the commissioned Popinjay was determined to have been kept too close to the kitchen fires,

…a substitute was offered, with a Very Energetic negotiation as to price and the true nature of its Popinjay-ness being in dispute.

6 Shillings…no, pence! 6 pence! Wait…we’ll pay you!

At the end, a very fine Shoot was held

with Mistress Kate winning the Shoot by detaching the Popinjay from its hat.

De-hatted him, she did


After a fine Supper, the Company took its ease and a Very Well-earned rest.

So, when’s the gambling start?

In all a very fine Muster was had with the Company now Proudly to field a Very Formidable force of fine Young Gallants.

Like this fine downy-cheeked lad

Kitchen Update — Shaka, when the walls didn’t fall

With the mortaring of the last brick, the Company kitchen wall is now one for the history books.


We haz wall!

The wall stands ~6′ 11″ high, and will serve as the hearth and cooking area. A wall oven will be built into the right corner, with a raised hearth to its left, more or less centered on the wall.

Hearth and oven base

We’ll be laying the block for those next week. The hearth will be done for Muster. To the left of the hearth is a salt niche, that will get some final touch-up grinding.

Salt niche

The outsides still need to be cleaned; we’ll be using mortar acid cleaner to get the haze off.

Yes, we gots some cleanin’ to do
Gardiner’s handball court

Elsewhere on the site, the sawhorses are still frisky, with one of the small ones’ having delusions of grandeur.


The next work weekend will entail setting the hearth and oven slabs onto the block supports, layout of the rest of the kitchen and more site clean-up and prep. Also, building corrals for the sawhorses.



Kitchen Site Update

Things have been happening at the Gardiner’s kitchen site this past month.

A load of gravel was put down on the road. While not complete, it will make the drive down better for those in cars.

If you are driving down the road, you’ll need a place to park. We’ve had some gravel put down in the parking area. More cars can now be parked to either side.

We plan to expand the parking area in the future, so this roadway is temporary.

The Company decided to purchase a used port-o-john, rather than renting one whenever we had something going on at the site. It was delivered this week.


While the outside fits in well with the surrounding forest, the inside is a different story:

The main thing is, it’s ours and it works.

The biggest news is the work that’s been done on the kitchen brick walls. The Company hired a local bricklayer, who started work on Friday. After just one day, the wall is almost complete.


The sidewall to the right of Laura is the final height, just under 7 feet. The remaining work should be done next week, in time for the first work weekend, March 26th. We’ll be working on the hearth and oven, and doing layout on the charcoal braziers which go somewhere along here, I think.

Zeke has been hard at work planning the timber framing, which we’ll get started later this year.

Those who can come to the work weekend can help us get the kitchen and the site ready for Muster.

We hope everyone can get out to Muster, this year April 28th – May 1st. You really have to see the site to appreciate how beautiful it is.