And yet as a result of this formalisation of trade we see in 1304 two London baking guilds being formed, one for white bread, using only wheat, (the White Bakers) and the other for brown bread, using a mixture of flours (the Brown Bakers). A baker affiliated to either one of the guilds had strict guidelines on what they could bake and sell, clearly delineated by classifications of white and brown breads. This led to further formalisation of prices, weights, standards and practices, (which had begun with the Assize of Bread in 1266) all things we take for granted today when buying bread.
However, the guilds became secretive of their skills, arts and recipes, so much so that the recipes and methods of baking bread were not written down for a long time, but instead passed from master to apprentice in the oral tradition. It was the same in the home, where bread making was normally the preserve of the mother and daughter, and again, very few details have come down to us of their traditions and techniques. We can of course infer from the kitchen equipment, (which we have examples of) the descriptions of bread by diarists, and from recipes, when they were finally written down, about how things were probably done and the ingredients used.
The great ‘celebration of bread’ and the associated rituals of bread in religion are not really of British origin, although they have played a major part in our culture and society for nearly 1500 years. Taking credit for that are the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Israelites and early European Christians. Most concern to us of course is the idea that Christians literally eat the body of Christ by breaking the sacred bread, which has caused consternation to the British people for nearly 1000 of those years; people, before, during, and after the Medieval period were confused by this notion, which was not helped by the Church itself not agreeing on whether the last supper was referring to the literal truth or an allegorical truth.
The British in the main leaned towards accepting it as the allegorical truth, and the Protestant version of Biblical interpretation, leading to a split from the Catholic European mainland, and several wars and conflicts down the centuries as a result. Yet through religion, bread was cemented in the mind of society as THE most important of the food sources within the daily diet. Something that remains within the British psyche today.