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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

231: Churchwardens’ Accounts and Orders of Vestry

Churchwardens’ Accounts and Orders of Vestry, St Peter’s Church, Wisbech,        1768 –1805 The Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601 established a national legal framework for dealing with the poor that lasted until 1834. Administered by the Church at parish level, it provided relief for the ‘deserving poor’ (the sick, aged, and infants) and work for the able-bodied in workhouses. This page opening of a churchwardens’ accounts book, dated 25 January 1781,  records the dietary provisions offered to the poor of the parish of St Peter’s, Wisbech, under the direction of Downing Burton, the new Workhouse Master: three full meals a day, comprising of a pottage or broth for breakfast, meats for dinner (except on Thursdays), and bread and cheese (sometimes milk) for supper.

St Peter’s Church, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire

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