"porridge, in a silver porringer"
18th century one-handled American porringer
Creative Commons Attribution18th century one-handled American porringer - Credit: Sean Pathasema/Birmingham Museum of Art

 Porringers, which originated in medieval times, are shallow bowls between 4 and 6 inches in diameter, with either one or two horizontal handles attached to their rim. Some have a lid. They are somewhat similar to the Scottish quaich. 

During the 17th century, the term porringer also came to be used to describe cup-shaped  silver vessels with two vertical scroll handles, as well as silver tureen-type vessels with lids. It is probably this tureen-type of porringer which would have been on the breakfast sideboard at Manderley.

Silver porringers were traditionally given as christening presents, a practice which continues today.

Click here to see a medieval-style porringer

Click here to see a silver 17th century porringer

Click here to see silver christening porringers

Click HERE to see an example of a TUREEN-STYLE PORRINGER

In recent times, the word porringer has also been used to describe a type of bain-marie (double saucepan) which is used for cooking porridge and keeping it hot.