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30th Jun, 2022

Heritage staff in Warwickshire take up historical culinary challenge

HISTORICAL recipes are being explored by Heritage and Culture Warwickshire staff in a series of YouTube videos.

Staff have been challenging each other to recreate culinary delights using recipes from centuries gone by, buried deep in the Warwickshire’s historical archives.

The historical ‘master chefs’ are documenting their experiences in home-made videos. The first will document senior archivist Rob Eyre’s attempt at ‘swiss milk toffee’ from a recipe book written around the First World War by a Miss M Keeling who lived in Ansley.

Warwickshire’s County Record Office has a variety of recipe books in its collections, the most famous being Mary Wise’s cookbook from the mid-18th century. Mary – whose in-laws owned Warwick priory among other properties – recorded recipes for preparing food, medicines and cosmetics. Food recipes included pickles and preserves – possibly due to lack of refrigeration – as well as lots of sugary treats, indicating the wealth of the Wise family since sugar was expensive.

Other recipes unearthed from the archive include Biskett Bread and Hedge Hog Pudding from a collection of the Fetherston-Dilke family of Maxstoke Castle.

Because the upper classes were able to write, and had time to devise recipes and money to buy ingredients, older recipe books tend to come from family estate papers.

More recent recipes from the 20th century are written by less affluent households, as more people were taught to write.

Warwickshire County Council heritage spokeswoman Coun Heather Timms said: “These heritage recipes provide a fascinating insight into Warwickshire’s culinary history and demonstrate the range of historical records and information that is preserved in the Warwickshire County Record Office archives, which the public can access on the ‘Our Warwickshire’ website.”

Recipes and the associated videos can also be found on the office’s Twitter account @OurWarwickshire.

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