History of King’s Lynn in 100 Objects, May 26, 2017

100 objects - spit jack
100 objects - spit jack

The star of this week’s article is a strange looking object. What do you think it could be? What was it used for? Any ideas?

It’s a spit jack, or roasting jack, as it is also known. A spit jack is a machine which was used to rotate meat roasting on a spit in a fireplace.

As a heavy weight hanging from a rope descended it turned a simple movement rotating the meat.

This object would have been very useful in the 17th century kitchen.

The spit jack is made from metal and wood. The brass front plate is decorated with animal heads – perhaps dragons? While a small figure stands at the top – perhaps a knight?

When the weight reaches the floor the small hammer held by the figure hits a bell, letting the cook know the meat needs attention.

This spit jack was made by Thomas Tue, the front plate is inscribed, Tho Tue at Linn Fecit.

Tue was also responsible for the tide clock on King’s Lynn Minster.

The movement of the spit jack is very similar to clockwork. Several other jacks made by Tue are also known to exist.