I had a sneaky peek at the draft copy of Mrs Horton’s Cookery Book today! It is a wonderful booklet containing recipes used in our Victorian kitchens by our volunteer team. All of the work has been put in by Sarah – one of our treasured kitchen volunteers and Lauren is now looking to get it printed and ready for sale in the shop.
Let me share with you a few first glimpses…
The Kitchen here at Charlecote was built in 1827. It is part of the servants’ quarters and was kept up-to-date being added to over the years to make sure that the family, or should I say, their staff, had the most efficient and fully functional kitchen provision.
We know there was a cook here called Mrs Horton. She was included on the 1851 census. This census also tells us that she was 24 years old and from nearby Bearly, Warwickshire. She is listed as Mrs Horton but may not have been married… Her status as cook would have given the honorary title of ‘Mrs’! As the cook she would have planned all of the menus with the lady of the house and she would have sourced all of the ingredients.
By 1866 she had become Head Cook and was in charge of an Assistant Cook, four kitchen maids and three scullery maids. Having a good cook was essential. Many families entertained and their reputations could be made or destroyed by the quality of the food they offered! Mrs Horton earned £42 per year in this very important role which is more than anyone else in the household.
We like to show how the kitchens were used by bringing them to life and have a team of enthusiastic volunteers who don traditional costume, use the range and try recipes we believe Mrs Horton would have cooked here. The recipes in our booklet are as close to the originals as we can manage although there are a few instances where we have modernised the terminology or methods. Look out for it in our shop in the coming months and if you do try the recipes, please take a photo and let us know how they turned out!