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Feast & Fast

The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800

230: One-handled pipkin with pouring lip

Unidentified Harlow pottery, Essex, England, 1650 Lead-glazed red earthenware with cream slip-trailed decoration, inscribed: ‘FAST AND PRAY 1650 W’ Dr J.W.L. Glaisher Bequest (GL.C.35-1928) This bottle and pipkin (a spouted cooking pot with handle to hold over the heat) are extraordinarily rare witnesses to early modern fasting practices. The ‘fast and pray’ inscriptions on both would have appealed to the religious radicalism of Puritans living around Harlow during the Commonwealth period (1649–60). James Wanel, named on the bottle, would have read the instruction as he drank water from it to relieve pains in his stomach during periods of abstinence. The pipkin’s burnished underside indicates that it was used for cooking the kind of meagre vegetable broth recommended for fast days by Thomas Tryon (1634–1703) in his self-help manuals (an example is displayed nearby).

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