Saturday, April 30, 2011

Royal Herb Strewers

excerpted from Strewn About by Vicky Uhland,
The Herb Quarterly (Spring 2011)
Created in 1660, the job of the Royal Herb Strewer traditionally entailed "strewing" a variety of herbs and flowers on palace floors and in stables throughout the day. Walking on these botanicals would release the plants' aromatic and insect-repelling oils, keeping the monarch's household freshly-scented and pest-free. Since King George IV's coronation in 1820, the Royal Herb Strewer has performed a strictly ceremonial role.

In his poem "Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandrie," [from 1557] royal courtier Thomas Tusser listed 21 popular strewing herbs: basil, lemon balm, camphor, chamomile, costmary, cowslip, daisy, fennel, germander, hyssop, lavender, spike lavender, cotton lavender, marjoram, pennyroyal, rose, red mint, sage, tansy, violet, and winter savory. Quite a royal blend!
Lately I've been walking around on flower petals outside my home (we have a blossoming tree which has shed pink petals all over the sidewalk). Although the reasons why they had royal strewers back in the day sound very unappealing, having some of those herbs strewn about for walking on sounds pretty cool. As long as you didn't have to clean them up afterward...

Here's the complete Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandrie.

P.S. Recognize the herb in the image above? It's lemon balm.

1 comment:

Robyn Hood Black said...

Love that! What a delightful tidbit of history to share, and the perfect time of year to share it. :0)