Posted by: Wayne Robinson | February 24, 2011

Trivet Pursuit

We made a discovery last Wintercampe. Having laid out a new cooking fire pit lined with stones, we were unable to use the fire irons to manage the fire because they were all being used as a grid to support the pots and pans above the coals. The decision was made to research the type of fire grills and trivets in use in the 1640s and to make some post haste. I had some photos of some in the kitchens at Hampton Court, but these are all  associated with stoves rather than open fires. No matter how hard we searched in the kitchen, cooking or household books and websites, we kept drawing blanks and sadly, the project was shelved until we could come up with some hard primary evidence.

Fire grills
The grid-irons John West rejected

Silly us, looking at kitchen books. We should have been looking at atrocities committed by Catholics against Protestants (and vice versa) in Ireland in 1641.

This is the very design I was looking for.

Here’s a close up.

Volume 2 of Stuart Peachy’s Cooking Techniques and Equipment 1580-1660 goes into some detail on the subject on p56, using original sources.


“made all of Iron, and are used set over great fires, for Large potts, or pans, or cauldrons, to be set upon, to boil things in. They were also called Brandretts, Brand Irons,  Iron Crowes, with three feet…

Iron Brandetytes or crowes, lesse than Trevett which are put over chimney fires, having two feet fixed firmly on the higher bars of the grate and, the other point resting on the back of the chimney, and so the pot or pan is set stiddy upon it over the fire.

… The square Trevett hath ever a crossebarre or more over the middle of it.”

Randle Holmes, Academy of Armory, 1688 vol3, chapter 3, page 7

Somewhat earlier use of both types is attested in other works, for example, Devonshire Probate Wills 1531-1660 probate 65 and Early Stuart Household Accounts edited by L Munby and published by the Hertfordshire Records Publications in1986. Other examples are the  inventory of Isiah Showell, Yeoman (1622):

1 grid iron        2/-

similarly, Thomas Halhed, Banbury, Woolendraper (1637)

3 pair pot racks

1 pair of Cobirons


and John Gill, Wickham, Banbury, Ghent (1634)

1 trifoot [trviet]

A number of other examples are given in Peachy’s Volume 1.

Use directly over a fire is also illustrated by this quote from 1629:

“make your fire where you may have good light, not in a Chimney, then set on your pan on a Trevet.”

Now to put a catemite amongst the Bishops. At no point in any of this research over the past year have I read or seen any description, definition or depiction of a tripod used for cooking. Cauldrons are always suspended from cranes, jacks or potracks, either built into the fabric of the fireplace or hung from pairs of racks.

The full kitchen The Hampton Court kitchen fire in full array. The resting shelf to the right keeps food warm without cooking or burning.

Here’s a free-standing pair of racks (and another atrocity)

Looks like we have some metalwork to do sometime soon.

The drawings are from Ireland: Or a Booke: Very Usefull for all sorts of people, that have or may have interest in their Kingdome, published in 1646, photos by me at Hampton Court in 2003 and 2006.



  1. Another excellent post, thank you.
    Regards, Le Loup.
    A Woodsrunner’s Diary.

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