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The Tudor Shop

Richard Anderson lived in Newcastle. He was a merchant. This means he made his money by buying and selling things. Part of his house was a shop where he sold goods from around Europe.

Here is an extract from an inventory (list of goods) of his shop. It was made in 1539. You can see what he sold in his shop and the countries his goods came from.

We've put this into simple modern English with our explanations of some of the words.

See the real document

The Shop Our notes (not part of the original list)
  £ s d The Tudors used different money to ours:
  • £ means pounds
  • s means shillings; 20 shillings = one pound
  • d means pennies; 12 pennies = one shilling
First, 200 pounds French hemp 2 10   about 90 kilos of strong cloth or rope made from the hemp plant
4 Bruges hats   9 3 Bruges is a town that is now in Belgium
1 pound cinnamon   5   spice from the East Indies, it would have been in little rolls of tree bark
A piece of camlet   18   soft, expensive cloth, by this time made from the hair of Angora goats, but originally made from camel hair
A dozen piper 1 4   we think piper was dried fish
A featherbed tick   13 4 cloth cover to hold all the feathers, a bit like a duvet cover, but much tougher
A pair of great rackans   7   long chains for hanging a cooking pot over the fire
36 yards linen cloth 1 13 4 about 30 metres of cloth made from the flax plant
Small rackans   13 4 chains for hanging a cooking pot over the fire
3 great hanks and one small wire   7   a 'wire' was used to support a ruff or help a lady's hair puff up nicely, so perhaps the 'hanks' were loops of wire waiting to be made up into a 'wire'
Saffron   10   orange–red spice made from crocus flowers; so expensive it was worth its weight in gold
27 French hats 1 7    
12 pounds of aniseeds   4   about 5 kilos of a very popular spice; aniseed usually grew in the eastern Mediterranean countries, but in very hot summers would grow in England
A pound of mace   6   about half a kilo of a spice from the Molucca Islands in the East Indies (Indonesia); mace came to England through the spice markets of the eastern Mediterranean
A dozen rice   1 8 a dozen usually means 12 in number, but here it means 12 pounds in weight which is about 5 kilos
A dozen almonds   3   about 5 kilos of almonds
3 pounds of cloves   17   about 1.5 kilos of a spice from the Molucca Islands; Moluccans planted a clove tree for every child born
Half a pound of nutmegs   1 4 another spice from the Molucca Islands that came to England from spice markets of the eastern Mediterranean
A pound of sanders   2   spice made from red sandalwood grown in India
A dozen small rings   5    
Half a piece of red say   11   about 7 metres of fine woollen cloth
A dozen and a half of wool cards   9   a dozen and a half = 12 + 6 = 18; cards had iron teeth and were used to comb wool just taken from sheep
10 pounds of black thread   6 8 thread was fine cord made from flax or wool, not cotton
4 caps   6 8  
Buckram   16 8 stiff cloth used for lining clothes
3 dozen playing cards   4   3 dozen packs of cards
3 gross of pins   16   a gross was 144 so 3 x 144 = 432 pins; pins were used to fasten clothes like we would use buttons
A gross and a half girth–webs   5   strong wide tape
16 wisps of steel   10 8 bundles of steel used to make tools or weapons
45 bundles of steel 6 15    
750 sheets of paper   3    
500 sheets of brown paper     11  
3 bowls of canes 1 10   we're not sure what these were
3 stone of pack thread   4 4 about 20 kilos of strong cord used for tying up bundles
2 pairs of small balances   4   scales for weighing things
7 kettles   15   large metal pots for boiling food or liquid over a fire
13 stone and 6 pounds of sugar 4     about 85 kilos of sugar, probably from sugar cane grown in the Mediterranean
2 dozen comfits   12   sweets
Total 36 8 1 yes, this doesn't add up to the right total


  • Name 3 types of hat sold in the shop.
  • Name 7 spices sold in the shop. Where do you think these spices came from?
  • What could the Tudors buy from this shop to use in their spare time?
  • Is there anything on the inventory that we would not use today?
  • Read the list of items in the table below. These items come from Richard Anderson's inventory. Place a tick in the column next to the person who might buy the item.

Item Clothing Merchant The King's Cook
Small rackans    
Red say    
Great hanks    
A dozen piper    
Wool cards    

What countries did England trade with in Tudor times?

Classroom activities
Tudor map of Europe

The Tudor shop

See the full Trade menu

See Teacher's notes
Teacher's notes

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