On Thursday 12 March 2015, Rosemary Pemberton gave members a talk on “Caudle Cups”. Rosemary’s interest in the decorative arts was enhanced by spending 20 years as a guide at Woburn Abbey. She now writes and presents papers on Ceramics for the English Ceramics Circle. Rosemary was making a return visit after talking on Chocolate Cups in May last year
Her lecture this time concentrated on cups for caudle, a drink dating from medieval times and used in various rituals and celebrations. Rosemary began by explaining the differences between “Caudle Cups” and “Chocolate Cups”, which is mainly in the handles. The chief distinction being that “Caudle Cups” incorporate a “thumb rest” whilst this is not the case with “Chocolate Cups “.
“Caudle Cups” may be of silver or porcelain usually with two handles to help the infirm, quite often women after childbirth. To take a nourishing sip of caudle became especially popular in the 17th Century in England. The ingredients for a caudle are warm ale or wine mixed with bread or gruel, eggs, sugar, and spices. Caudle was also known as a “pick-me-up” or sometimes a breakfast meal and because of the spices used was also very expensive.
The custom of inviting friends and family to “take a caudle” after a woman had given birth was a show of wealth. As cups cost been 2 and 20 guineas
Examples of “caudle cups” can be found in the V & A and Rosemary took us though the various factories that produced such cups – explaining the differences in the handle designs and where the “thumb” rest was incorporated. Those made at Derby were particularly distinctive, while those made at Worcester had pierced handles. Wedgewood, Spode, Minton and Copeland also made cups.
The earliest example has been identified as Turkish dating to 100 BC and even today there are adverts in the papers for such cups.
Another interesting and enlightening lecture.