December 2014 – Minstrels, Masters and Malmsey wine – Christmas revels at Lincoln’s Inn
For centuries, Christmas time at the Inn has been a relatively quiet affair as lack of evidence in the Inn's Archives proves. However, from the fifteenth to the late seventeenth centuries, celebrating Christmas in Lincoln’s Inn was carried out with a certain amount of flair as it was in the other Inns of Court. It was compulsory to attend Christmas celebrations (or 'revels' as they were known) which were overseen by numerous individuals including the 'King of Christmas' who had various individuals working under him including the Marshal, Master of revels, Steward for Christmas, Butler for Christmas, Constable Marshal, Server and Cupbearer. The Marshal appears to be the only one of these individuals to have been a bencher and the idea was that he would be in attendance to maintain order and to prevent waste. All the other posts were held by members yet to be called to the bar. One of the most important aspects to the Christmas revels was the importance given to entertainment. This came mainly in the form of minstrels and musicians who were hired to play music in the Hall. This was a Hall that was demolished in the late fifteenth century after it was replaced by the Old Hall which was completed in 1492. The image below (1455, f.94) shows an entry from the Black Books listing payments allowed for the hiring of minstrels.