Princess Weekend is fast-approaching (18th and 19th August) but just what does a Princess do in her spare time..?
We asked our Learning & Interpretation Manager, Rachel, to countdown a Princess’ top ten pastimes and she even made herself a princess hat for her photo!
Playing musical instruments and singing at home for domestic enjoyment was a popular pastime. Whilst we can’t promise to replicate the dulcet tones of medieval musical instruments at our Medieval Music event over the Bank Holiday weekend, we will certainly give it a go!
Embroidery was considered a suitable way for ladies of leisure to spend their time. Queen Emma, wife of Edward the Confessor, was praised for her elaborate embroidery in gold thread. We’ve been busy with our needles this week, so does that make us all princesses too…?
8. Horse riding
Princess Anne is an accomplished horsewoman and won a gold medal at the 1971 Olympics for her horse riding. Her daughter, Zara, won a silver medal for the same event in the 2012 London Olympics.
Noblewomen flew their own birds of prey. According to one historical source, the traditional bird for a Lady was a female merlin. Our birds of prey make a return visit as part of Princess Weekend – you won’t meet a merlin but you’ll be able to see an owl or two.
6. Household management
Princesses and other noblewomen were often responsible for running the household. This involved managing servants, planning menus, ordering supplies, managing the budget and hosting feasts and parties.
5. Being rescued
The story of the Princess and the Dragon is very old. One version from Ancient Greece tells the story of how Perseus rescued the princess Andromeda from a sea monster. Don’t worry – no dragons or sea monsters at the Visitor Centre!
4. Inspiring chivalry
Medieval chivalry insisted that it was a knight’s duty to serve his lady. This might take the form of a poem about how wonderful the lady was, performed by a minstrel.
3. Patron of charities
Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie are both patrons of the Teenage Cancer Trust, and support many other charities between them.
2. Kissing frogs
The story of the Princess and the Frog is another very old fairy tale. In one version the Princess drops her golden ball into a pond, a frog rescues it and asks for a kiss in return, the Princess reluctantly kisses the frog, and he turns into a handsome Prince.
1. Rule as regent
Princesses and queens were often left in charge of the country whilst the king was away fighting wars. Matilda of Scotland (1080-1118) was a Scottish Princess who married King Henry I. She ruled England whilst the king was away in Normandy.