December 16, 2011, by Fraser

16 December: Medieval deed

A clove of gillyflower…

This is a medieval deed which records a land transaction made over 700 years ago stipulating that a clove of gillyflower is to be paid by the tenant to their landlord on Christmas day.

In case you’re not sure, gillyflower is a type of carnation that was often used as a nominal rent in Medieval times. The purpose of this seemingly rather odd form of rental payment was for the Landlord to retain feudal rights.

The idea of making a payment over the Christmas period – as shown in this deed from the 13th century – got us thinking about the ever-rising cost of Christmas. We decided to speak to Economic Geographer at the University Professor Louise Crewe about Christmas and consumption:

If you can’t see the YouTube video, try this alternative location or view on iTunes U.

All of the items featured in our e-Advent calendar are from the University’s historic library holdings, held in Manuscripts and Special Collections. For more information on the wide range of materials available, take a look at their website and blog or contact the curators on

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Posted in History