Chapter 5 : Coronation Feast
The Coronation feast was presided over by senior members of the nobility in their various roles of Butler, Panter, Larder, Cupbearer and Almoner. The Lord High Steward commanded all, dressed in crimson velvet and orient pearls, and mounted on his courser, also trapped in crimson velvet studded with letters (presumably H & A) of gold work. In due course, Queen Anne entered the Hall, still covered with her canopy of state. She sat down at the centre of the high table, under the Cloth of Estate.
Standing on her left was her half-aunt, Anne Howard, Dowager Countess of Oxford, and on her right, Elizabeth Browne, Countess of Worcester. Their role was to hold a cloth in front of Anne’s face, should she wish to “spit or do other”. Seated at the end of the table to Anne’s right was Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury. Like Anne, he had risen from modest enough beginnings to transform their world. At the Queen’s feet, two gentlewomen sat for the entire length of the meal.
Once the Queen was seated, the Deputy Earl Marshal, the Lord High Steward and the Sewer, rode in, followed by the Knights of the Bath bearing the Queen’s first course of thirty-two dishes (lower orders were served fewer dishes in each course).
Orders had gone out all over the country to rustle up the enormous quantity of delicacies required. The Guild of Our Lady in Boston had sent six cranes, six bitterns and three dozen godwits as its contribution. Whilst Her Majesty ate, trumpets sounded, apparently melodiously!
After the Queen had been served with her first two dishes, the Archbishop was served, and then all of the other guests, in order of rank, starting from the right hand side of the Queen. The second and third courses consisted of a further twenty-four and thirty dishes respectively for Anne and reduced numbers for the guests.
Meanwhile, the King and various ambassadors were watching events from a side room. When Anne had finished, the company stood whilst she washed her hands and then moved to the centre of the Hall, where she was served, standing, with wafers and hippocras, served by the Lord Mayor in a golden cup, which she then presented to him, thanking him and his Aldermen for their efforts. Queen Anne left the Hall, no doubt exhausted and exhilarated in equal measure, and the company departed, the Lord Mayor clutching his golden cup.
Letters & Papers, Foreign and Domestic of the Reign of Henry VIII
Edward Hall: Chronicle containing the history of England, during the reign of Henry the Fourth, and the succeeding monarchs, to the end of the reign of Henry VIII ... the manners and customs of those periods: Nabu Press (30 July 2010)