More Things To Do
Still bored? Here are some more activities to usefully occupy your days at Court.
There are plenty of professional fencing masters and dancing masters. (Sometimes they're the same people.)
Embroider. Like gossip, you can do this nearly anywhere. Ladies may gather in the garden, or in the Queen's Privy Chamber, or some other well-lighted room to do this. You might do it while watching a friend take a lute lesson or sit for a portrait.
Play cards, chess, tables (backgammon) or draughts (i.e., checkers, pronounced DRAFTS). Card games include Primero, Taroccho or Trumps, and many others.
Sing. Like dancing, this has to be practiced, especially since some madrigals are quite difficult. The English are famous as sight-readers.Says William Byrd:
First, it is a knowledge easily taught and quickly learned where there is a good master and an apt scholar.
Prepare a presentation. Such as an elaborate masque. One must rehearse, after all.
Visit your tailor. This can take hours, especially if you take along some friends.
Sit for a portrait. The painter will make several visits, or you may visit him. You approve his sketches and his progress, and promise to pay the bill. A miniature by Hilliard will set you back about £40.
Visit the bear pit. Bear baiting consists of letting a pack of crazed hounds loose on a chained bear, and watching from a safe distance while the beasts fight. Very popular. Almost as good as a public hanging. Even the Queen thinks this is great fun. One of the most famous of these bears is called Sackerson.
13 March 2010 mps