Back to exhibition

Sharing Shakespeare's Story


Today we think of spoons as commonplace but in Shakespeare’s time a good-quality spoon was a sign of social status and a prized personal item. Guests usually brought their own cutlery to dinner and spoons specifically were used in communal dishes. It was important to have a decent spoon to show off when in company. As objects for display as well as use, spoons were sometimes embellished with meaningful imagery, or engraved with the owner’s initials.

The decoration of spoons was often focused on the end of the handle, known as the ‘knop’. Knops had a practical role in that they stopped the spoon from sliding into a dish of food but in the Tudor period this element was exploited as a design feature.  This spoon was known as a "seal-top" spoon as it has a flattened disc on the end that would have been engraved with the owner's initial in the manner of a seal.

2 responses
Response by


Each spoon was personalised to one person. They carry them with them and they only use their own spoons even when they are not at home. They had knives too but at that time forks weren't common in England.

See also