Saturday, 14 April 2018

Dining with Toffs

Tucked inside one of my old recipe books was this gold-edged dinner menu card, dated 8th November, 1883.

Uffington House

Potage aux profiteroles
Merlans Guilles tartare"
Riz de veau en cassis
Quenelles de Volaille fareau
Gigot de Sept heures
Celeris a la Creme
Perdreaux rotis
Gateaux Gunois a la Creme
Oeufs en Sardines
Glace aux Ratafias

A little investigation (last year, for my other blog click to see the post) showed me that Uffington House was built in 1688, with an additional wing added to the back of the house in 1809.      

Unfortunately the house burned down on 23rd December, 1904.

Location - near Stamford, Lincolnshire, which is about 60 miles away from here.

I was doing some research on another house, a few days ago, and came across some photographs of the interior of Uffington House, one them is of the dining room.    Unfortunately it is not very clear, but thrilling to think that this is where the meal was eaten.

The number of chairs lined up in front of the sideboard shows that the table could be greatly expanded when necessary.

Uffington House was the seat of the Earl of Lindsey - a peerage title which was created for Baron Willoughby de Eresby.    

What makes this so interesting to me, is that the manor house which was home to 'Miss Read' was also once a seat to the Lords Willoughby de Eresby,  later Earls of Lindsey.

I have no idea who wrote/collected all the recipes in my old book, where she may have lived, or why she had the menu card in her collection, but I do like those tenuous links.   

The big leather bound volume is full of mystery, as well as many hundreds of recipes.     Although it was stamped with the name 'A Johnstone' and the year '1840', the first recipe was written in there in 1848, probably not by A. Johnstone.     

There are lots of notes on the food provided for occasions which demanded large scale catering, some written directly into the book, while others are written on notepaper, embossed with the names of some grand houses.  

Most of the recipes are for cakes, puddings, pies and biscuits, but there are also lots of savoury dishes too.   Some of the most interesting are the recipes for treating ailments.

I bought the book at auction, many years ago, so know nothing about where it came from, other than these little clues.

So many stories, if only it could talk.   

Little snail trails through time and space.


  1. Fascinating! Can imagine the servants in that room, waiting on elegant guests. The menu sounds very extravagant. Oeufs en sardines?
    Would be lovely to know more.

    1. Hi Linda, Fancy food indeed, a tiny morsel of this and that, best bib and tucker, mind the p's ad q's. I'll take mine in the kitchen - bread and cheese, much more my style! I keep dipping into these old books and every now and again I get rewarded with a new snippet of information. I wish I could join all the dots.

  2. "Little snail trails through time and space."

    What a perfect description!!!!!!

    All of this is delightful.

    Wondering if you could show your "Miss Read," these photos... Wonder what her take on them, would be...?

  3. :-) I like that date, November 8th. That is our wedding date.

  4. Hello Luna, The same book tells the tale of the demolition of the old manor house in which she lived, no interior shots of it though. I will see if she has any, in her photograph album - oh, the expectation and hopes I am placing on that album! The manor house was a much more rural and rustic kind of establishment, Uffington House was very grand indeed.

    Did you have good weather for your November wedding day? November is the month when my parents were married, too. Their photographs show a cold, but very bright day.

    1. Cloudy, getting more so, as the day progressed, as I remember.

      But not rain. :-)

  5. What a treasure! A very rich dinner, by our modern standards, isn't it? I love history through food - what a treat!

    1. Hello Susan, These old recipe books are a little difficult to decipher at first, it's just a case of having to get used to the different style of writing. The big book which held this little gem reveals the same hand for quite a number of years, then the writing gets shakier and there are more and more recipes for liniment, headache cures, and so on. Eventually another hand takes over.


Lovely to hear from you!