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The mystery object thought to be a ‘pétrin’ or kneading trough for making bread.

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It looks like a ‘pétrin’ or kneading trough for making bread.

The drainage hole may be for removal of excess flour or for ease of cleaning when washing it down, especially since it is oak and presumably rather heavy.

The expression ‘être dans le pétrin’ dates from the 18th century when these became a household essentials for bread making. It means finding yourself in a sticky situation, one difficult to get out of – rather apt for our present times!

Rosalind Caldecott