Tag Archives: Food

Celebrating the Jubilee … in 1809!

Verses for the Jubilee in 1809 (Berkshire Record Office)

To mark 60 years of the Queen’s reign, 2012 is the year of the Diamond Jubilee! There will be hundreds of thousands of parties and festivals, picnics, music and feasting across Britain and the Commonwealth (Nations and Realms). The Central Weekend is this coming weekend; the 2nd – 5th June, and I’m sure to be seeking out plenty of alcoholic beverages, cakes and roast dinners!

Although the notion of a Jubilee originates from the Bible (Isaiah and Leviticus), the first British monarch to celebrate their jubilee in a way we would recognise today was undoubtedly George III in 1809, marking the beginning of 50 years as reigning monarch – his Golden Jubilee. An Account of the Celebration of the Jubilee, on 25th October, 1809… Collected and Published by a Lady (1809), was a publication which brought together most of the recorded celebrations around Britain at the time. Many of these took place on privately owned land and country estates. As the 2012 celebrations  are set to be a concoction of hearty drinking, big parties, fireworks, charity events and the traditional lighting of the beacons, those in 1809 were not so dissimilar …

Harewood House, Yorkshire, by J. M. W. Turner, 1798 (Tate Galleries).

Harewood House, Yorkshire. Flags were hoisted on the Church and at the Great Lodge at the entrance of the Park; and the day was ushered in with the ringing of the bells. The tenantry of Lord Harewood, about 500 in number, assembled at the Church, and after divine service, marched in procession, attended by a band of music, to the hospitable mansion of his Lordship, and sung ‘God Save the King’ on the lawn. As many as conveniently could dine in the house, remained; a such as could not, went to the Inns at Harewood, which were thrown open for the day, to all the inhabitants of the neighbourhood. At two o’ clock dinner was announced, when Lord Harewood took the head of the table in the great room, which formed three sides of a square, and at which sat 190 guests. Different tenants presided at the other tables. During the whole of dinner a full band of music played select airs. The toasts were appropriate for the occasion. At eight o’ clock there was a large bonfire, and a beautiful display of fireworks. At nine, two rooms were thrown open for dancing, which was continued with great spirit till one. Supper was then served up in the gallery: the decoration of the rooms and the tables did infinite credit to the manager (transparencies, one of them an excellent likeness of the King) and devices of flowers in different compartments, had a most beautiful effect. At three, dancing was resumed, and continued with great spirit till six, and about eight, all guests had taken their departure, deeply impressed with the splendid hospitality, the amiable condescension, and the disinterested patriotism, of the noble house of Harewood.

Shirburn Castle,Watlington, Oxfordshire (Country Life, c.1900)

Sherborne Castle [now spelt Shirburn], Oxfordshire. The Jubilee was celebrated with great splendor at Sherbourne Castle, the Seat of the Earl of Macclesfield. In the morning all the poor of that parish, and of Stoke and Clare, together with all the workmen employed by his Lordship, received 2lb of beef for every person in their family; and after divine service, a proportionate quantity of small beer. In the evening there was a numerous assemblage of all the neighbouring families for a ball, when the front of the castle was illuminated with G. R. Fifty Years, in large letters of lamps. At one o’clock the company sat down to a magnificent supper; after which the dance was resumed, and kept up till a late hour in the morning.

Tottenham House, Wiltshire (engraving after J. P. Neale) 1829.

Tottenham Park, Wiltshire. The Earl of Aylesbury displayed the purest feelings of genuine loyalty, by his liberal donations to his Majesty’s least opulent subjects through his Lordship’s extensive manors. Upwards of 5300 people were sharers in his munificence. The numerous peasantry in his more immediate neighbourhood were feasted on the lawn, with a plentiful supply of roast beef, plum-pudding, and strong beer. The Marlborough Troop of Wiltshire Yeomanry Cavalry, commanded by Lord Bruce fired a feu de joie on the occasion, and were afterwards regaled with a sumptuous dinner, and enjoyed themselves with their Noble Commander to a late hour.

Plas Newydd, Isle of Anglesey (copyright TADDFAS)

PlasNewydd, Isle of Angelsey, Wales. The Jubilee was celebrated at PlasNewydd, the Seat of the Earl and Countess of Uxbridge, by a distribution of beef, cheese, oatmeal, and strong beer to the poor families, consisting of upwards of 700 individuals, of the parishes of Llandaniel, Llanfair, and Llandisilio. A plentiful dinner was likewise given at the mansion, to his Lordship’s workmen, labourers, and their families. In the evening, there was a magnificent display of fireworks, and it may be added that the well-known loyalty and attachment of the noble owners of the place to his Majesty, was most gratefully seconded on this happy occasion by their numerous dependants.

Henblas, Isle of Angelsey, Wales. The Jubilee was celebrated with utmost loyalty and hilarity, at the hospitable mansion of Hugh Evans, Esq. A sumptuous dinner was given to a numerous circle of his friends; after which, appropriate toasts were drank, each breathing the purest attachment to their Sovereign and Country. At the same time, his neighbouring tenantry, labourers, and their families, to the number of about 150, were regaled with beef, plum-pudding, and unlimited libations of cwrw da [good beer]. The whole was conducted with the utmost good humour, highly creditable to the worthy donor, who is always forward to evince his unshaken adherence to the best of Kings.


Jane Austen devotee with a great piece on George III’s Golden Jubilee here. This has extra links and references for those of you interested reading more http://austenonly.com/2012/05/30/george-iiis-golden-jubilee/

Queen Elizabeth II – Jubilees http://www.royal.gov.uk/HMTheQueen/TheQueenandspecialanniversaries/Overview.aspx

Understanding accession and coronation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronation_of_the_British_monarch and http://www.2012queensdiamondjubilee.com/coronation

What is a Jubilee? 2002 … http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/apr/26/jubilee.monarchy


Filed under Food and Dining, Parks and Gardens, Recommended Literature

Some Georgian Christmas Fare!

A cheap and cheery seasonal one this time! After spending a few years pouring over eighteenth-century household account books, it seems fitting that a little attention should be paid towards Christmas at the country house. And food is certainly a great tonic for the soul in these dreary winter months of the northern hemisphere! I’ve picked out two books; one which was first published in the first half of the eighteenth century and one from the start of the nineteenth century. Their respective authors had slightly different backgrounds but connections to the country house are strong. The first, John Simpson was eager to promote himself as ‘the Present Cook to the Most Noble the Marquis of Buckingham’ in his 1806 edition of A Complete System of Cookery, presumably in that role at Stowe House. The second, Richard Bradley was a botanist who had a vast knowledge of hot-houses, gardening and husbandry, but also spent some time working at Cannons, Middlesex for James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos.

All original spelling has been retained.


Stowe House (from Views of the Seats of Noblemen and Gentlemen, 1829)

From A Complete System of Cookery, from a Plan Entirely New, Consisting of Every Thing that is Requisite for Cooks to Know in the Kitchen Business. John Simpson (1806)


Later edition title-page from John Simpson's A Complete System of Cookery (1816)

Bills of Fare for Christmas feasting 1805, 25th December.

First Course

Rice Soup, Turkey & Truffles, Beef Collops, Semels Souffle & Poivrade Sauce, A Foul a la Daube and Mushrooms, Sweetbreads and Asparagus Peas, A Leg of Lamb and Haricot Beans, Chickens a la Reine, Haunch of Venison, Soup Vermicelli

Bacon Chine The Chine should be sprinkled with Salt, four days before roasted; – if large, it will take three hours roasting. – Send Apple sauce up in boat.

Chickens and Celery, Neat’s Tongue, Grenadines and Endives, Rabbits a la Portugueze and Sorrel Sauce

Appendix – Petit Pate of Oysters, Souties of Mutton and Cucumbers, Giblet Soup, Roast Beef

Second Course

Partridges, Savoy Cake, Carmel Basket, Jerusalem Artichokes, Cauliflowers &c., Mince Pies, Cheesecakes, French Beans, Spinage &c., A Pheasant, Snipes, Asparagus, Red Cabbage, Apricot Torte, Mushrooms, Ragoo Mele, Chantilla Cake, Carmel Cake, Meringues, Guinea Fowl


Cannons, Middlesex (from Vitruvius Britannicus, 1739)

From the Country Housewife and Lady’s Director In the Management of a House, and the Delights and Profits of a Farm. Richard Bradley (6th edition, 1762)

To make minc’d Pyes, or Christmas-Pyes. 

Take an Ox-heart, and parboil it, or a Neat’s Tongue boil’d without drying or salting, or the Inside of a Surloin of Beef, chop this small and put to each Pound two Pounds of Beef-Suet, cleaned of the skins and blood, and chop that as small as the former; then pare, and take the Cores out of eight large Apples and chop them small, grate then a Two-penny loaf; and then add two or three Nutmegs grated, half an Ounce of fresh Cloves, as much mace, a little Pepper and Salt, and Pound and half of Sugar; then grate in some Lemon and Orange-Peel, and squeeze the Juice of six Oranges and two Lemons, with half a Pint of Sack, and pour this into the Mixture. Take care to put in two Pounds of Currans to every Pound of Meat, and mix it well; then try a little of it over the Fire, in a Sauce-pan, and as it tastes, so add what you think proper to it: put this in an earthen-glaz’d Pan, and press it down, and you may keep it till Candlemas, if you make it at Christmas

Memorandum, When you put this into your Pyes, press it down, and it will be like a Paste. When you take these Pyes out of the Oven, put in a Glass of Brandy, or a Glass of Sack or White Wine, into them, and stir it in them. 

Three centuries of mince pies (Ivan Day blog historicfood.com)

Plum-Pottage, or Christmas-Pottage, from the same.

Take a Leg of Beef, boil it till it is tender in a sufficient quantity of Water, add two Quarts of red Wine, and two Quarts of old strong Beer; put to these some Cloves, Mace and Nutmegs, enough to season it, and boil some Apples, pared and freed of the Cores into it, and boil them tender, and break them, and to every Quart of Liquor, put half a Pound of Currans, pick’d clean, and rubbed with a coarse Cloth, without washing. Then add a Pound of Raisins of the Sun, to a Gallon of Liquor, and half a Pound of Prunes. Take out the Beef, and the Broth or Pottage will be fit for use.


Some gloriously heavy food in there, but it’s difficult to care too much about that at Christmas! If only I had the time and the energy … Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!



Food historian, Ivan Day’s website http://www.historicfood.com/portal.htm and blog http://foodhistorjottings.blogspot.com/

Kansas State Libraries rare books – cookery http://www.lib.k-state.edu/depts/spec/rarebooks/cookery/raffald1769.html

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, English Taste: The Art of Dining in the Eighteenth Century http://www.mfah.org/exhibitions/english-taste-dining-eighteenth-century/

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Filed under Food and Dining, Servants, The running of the country house