Historical recipes – both good and bad

I was interviewed by Andy Twigge for BBC Radio Derby today and we discussed a few recipes from our many historical recipe books.  I made a couple of things for him to try: one was the gluten-free rice cake which I’ve blogged about before, and the other was Jumbles from Mary Swanwick’s 1740s recipe.

The one I didn’t make, but rather tickled me, was from a seventeenth century book.  It’s from the archive of the Gell family of Hopton Hall and like all such home recipe books, it contains a mix of medicinal and cookery recipes.   I would strongly recommend that you don’t try this one at home.

Recipe for convulsion fits

Reference no: D258/32/15/1

Here’s my transcription with modernised spelling and punctuation:

Mrs Evelyn’s excellent powder for Convulsion Fits

Take a dozen young moles, flay them, draw them and quarter them, lay them abroad in a dish and dry them in an oven until they will powder. Take elecampane root, cleanse, slit and dry them in an oven to powder. Take red peony roots and Jews ears [a kind of mushroom], powdered after the same manner.  Take also a little of the                      of a healthy woman when it is burnt to powder.  Beat them severally and take of each powder a like quantity by weight.  Mix them well together and keep them close tied up for use.

Take of it 3 mornings before and after the full and change, in a spoonful of black cherry water as much as will lie on a shilling, fasting, and drink 2 or 3 spoonful of black cherry water after it.

The black cherry water definitely sounds like the best bit!  I’m not entirely sure about ‘the full and change’ but I think that is referring to the moon, the full moon often being seen as the culprit for fits of insanity.  As for what you should be powdering from a healthy woman, if you have any suggestions, let us know in the comments.

You can hear snippets of my conversation with Andy Twigge by listening to his lunchtime radio programme every day this week at around 2.15pm – or catch up with it on the BBC Radio iPlayer.  I’ll post the Jumbles recipe later this week, for those that would like to give it a try.  I promise that it’s much more palatable than the recipe above!

The Amazing, Award Winning, Pop Up Archives Project!

The 2019 Derbyshire Heritage Awards took place last Friday (3 May) at the impressive (but rather chilly!) Barrow Hill Roundhouse.  The Record Office was delighted to win the Reaching New Audiences award for the Amazing Pop Up Archives Project.

Derbyshire Heritage Awards 2019

Karen Millhouse and Sarah Chubb with the award for Reaching New Audiences

This Heritage Lottery Funded project was devised and led by archivist Karen Millhouse, working with a group of young people, artists and an experienced family history researcher.  Together they ‘popped up’ at events around the county, bringing archives to places where people would normally never expect to see them.  Hundreds of people came to look at the documents, listen to songs and stories, and tell their own stories of their lives and the place where they lived.

It’s been a great project and we’re so pleased that it has been recognised by this award.  If you’d like to find out more about what the team did, do take a look at some of the blog posts created along the way.  And congratulations to all the award winners on Friday – there is a lot of amazing work going on in Derbyshire!

 

 

An easy historical gluten-free cake recipe

We haven’t blogged about historical food experiments for a good while, but this weekend I was in the mood for baking, so I thought I would try out a recipe that intrigued me in Clara Palmer-Morewood’s recipe book from the 1830s: Rice Cake.

Rice Cake recipe (jpeg)

Rice Cake

Ground Rice half a pound, sugar & butter each one pound. Put them into a pan before the fire, as the butter melts stir them gently together with a wooden spoon, beat nine eggs very well and add them to the other ingredients immediately before putting into the oven, the rind of a Lemon may be added.

I halved the recipe (why waste a whole pound of butter and sugar if it all goes horribly wrong?!) and used the following:

1/4 lb /  110 g of rice flour
1/2 lb / 225g butter
1/2 lb / 225g sugar
4 eggs (our eggs are likely larger than those they had in the 1830s)
grated zest of a lemon

I stirred together the flour, sugar, lemon zest and butter in a pan over a low heat until the butter was melted and the mixture was well blended, then took it off the heat to cool a little.  In a separate bowl I beat the eggs until very light and fluffy, then gently folded them into the rest of the mixture, trying to keep as much of the air as possible in the batter.

The mixture went into a greased and lined loaf tin (I used a 2 pound loaf tin) and then into the oven at 180 degrees centigrade.  After about 25 minutes it had browned nicely but  was still very wobbly in the middle so with a piece of foil on top to prevent burning I gave it another 20 minutes.

The result was subsequently enjoyed with a nice cup of tea.

Cake

It’s not fluffy cake but it is deliciously moist from all that butter and has a lovely lemony flavour.  It’s also extremely easy to make, requiring only minimal baking skills.  And it’s suitable for people on a gluten-free diet too.  I highly recommend it!

Cake close up

White Hall Memories

Christmas is a time for catching up with old friends and reminiscing.  If you ever visited the White Hall Outdoor Education Centre near Buxton, cast your mind back to your experiences there as you put your feet up over the holidays…  If you have a tale to tell, 2019 is the chance for you to share that story with more than just friends and family.

Derbyshire’s White Hall Outdoor Education Centre is remarkable for being the first local authority run outdoor education centre in the country.  It’s still going strong after nearly 70 years and has just been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant to celebrate its history.

D7786 whitehall 000002 small

Image from the White Hall Centre archive at Derbyshire Record Office

The White Hall Outdoor Education Centre – A People’s History project has just launched an appeal for people’s memories of visiting the centre over the last seven decades.  Local students will turn the stories that are collected into a film, which will form part of a display that will tour around the county.

If you have a story to share, you can let the project team know by emailing my.whitehall@derbyshire.gov.uk, and you can find out more about the project on Derbyshire County Council’s website.

 

 

New Florence Nightingale website

Many people aren’t aware that Florence Nightingale, world famous as the founder of modern nursing, came from a Derbyshire family.  Although mostly associated in popular imagination with the Crimea, of course, and London (where she died), Florence came from the Nightingale family of Lea, near Matlock, and retained strong connections with her family home and the people of Lea.

Florence’s links with Derbyshire are explored in a University of Nottingham project, which has just acquired a new website:  Florence Nightingale comes home for 2020 .

Florence Nightingale snip

On this site you can find out more about the project itself, as well as what researchers have discovered so far about Florence and Derbyshire.  There are all sorts of other resources too, including local history trails you can follow, and you can even take a virtual tour around the Nightingales’ home at Lea Hurst!

The project will be going on until 2020, which would have been Florence’s 200th birthday, and you can keep up with their activities and findings by signing up to their newsletter and following the project blog.

aph-florence-nightingale-02

Florence Nightingale’s signature, from a letter at Derbyshire Record Office.

Derbyshire Record Office is working closely with the team at Nottingham, and you can also get involved.  The project team are keen to make contact with people who have a research interest in the Nightingales.  If that sounds like you, then you could become involved in the project as a Citizen Researcher.  You don’t need to be an academic, so if you’d like to be involved, they would love to hear from you.

Coal and Dialect

For those of you interested in coal mining heritage, there’s a great new Coal and Dialect in the East Midlands website created by Natalie Braber and David Amos at Nottingham Trent University.

Coal and Dialect website

It includes lots of oral history snippets explaining the different terms used by miners.  So if you’d like to know what an overman or an onsetter did, or what snaking, spragging or scrufting are, then you can listen to a former miner explaining exactly what these words mean.  Do take a look!

Discovering Franklin

We have an exciting new project beginning on Monday 1 October.  Funded by Archives Revealed, our Discovering Franklin project will create a detailed catalogue of the papers of Sir John Franklin (1786-1847); his first wife, Eleanor Porden (1795-1825) and her father William Porden (1750-1822); his second wife, Jane Griffin (1791-1875) – more usually known as Lady Jane Franklin; and his daughter Eleanor (1824-1860).

Barry Lewis looking at Franklin material

Leader of Derbyshire County Council, Councillor Barry Lewis, and some of the Franklin papers

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you will probably have heard these names before: we’ve blogged about them quite a few times!

If you’re not familiar with Sir John Franklin’s story, in 1845 he led two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, up to the Canadian Arctic to discover the Northwest Passage.  The quest to find the Northwest Passage was the Victorian equivalent of the race to put a man on the moon.  Enormous efforts were made to be sure that the British would be the first to find the Northwest Passage and control a potential new trade route to the Americas.

Franklin docs - daguerrotypes

Photographs taken of the officers, just before the expedition set off in May 1845

The crew wrote home for the last time when they stopped off in Greenland… after which they disappeared.  It wasn’t until the late 1850s that the fate of the 129 crewmen was known – they had all perished, although the exact cause of their deaths remains a mystery.  There were, however, tales of starvation and cannibalism which horrified people back home – and were speedily quashed.  The ships themselves remained lost until very recently, when they were discovered by Canadian archaeologists in 2014 and 2016.  Excavations continue each summer to discover their secrets.

Franklin docs - last letter 3

One of Sir John Franklin’s last letters, written June 1845 from Whale Fish Islands, Greenland

The Franklin papers we have at Derbyshire Record Office have never been properly catalogued but are full of fascinating documents that deserve to be much more accessible to the many people who are interested in Franklin, polar exploration and much more.

Here’s just one example: a little book of hymns that Eleanor sent to her father with Sir James Ross, who led the first expedition to find Franklin in 1848.  By then her father was already dead, although of course no one knew this.  Ross’s expedition was blocked by ice at Somerset Island and so he had to return the book to Eleanor without bringing her the good news she must have been hoping for.  This little package, lovingly prepared by Eleanor and kept safe by Sir James Ross, has been all the way to the Arctic Circle and back.

Package sent to Franklin from Eleanor

Book of hymns sent by Eleanor to her father Sir John Franklin with Sir James Ross’s expedition

There are many more poignant stories captured in these papers.  We will be detailing our discoveries in this blog, of course, but if you use Twitter you can follow more immediate updates there at @FranklinArchive.  And if you’d like to find out more about the Franklin expedition, there are lots of books, TV programmes and films about it… why not start by borrowing a book from your local library?

 

 

New acquisition: Winster in 1769

Derbyshire Record Office rarely buys documents but we recently made an exception when an eighteenth century map of Winster came up for auction.  Winster is a beautiful and historic village, but our earliest map was the first edition of the Ordnance Survey, surveyed 1875-1882.  This is well over a hundred years after Winster’s heyday as a centre of the county’s lead mining industry, so we were very excited when we were able to buy this 1769 map with the help of a grant from the Friends of the National Libraries and a private donation.

The Plan of the lead mines and veins of the Partners and Proprietors of Portoway Placket Yate Stoop Limekiln and Drake, Winster is a beautifully drawn map:

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And what’s really exciting is that it shows the village in some detail:

Winster village - 60kbAlthough the village is much bigger nowadays, some of the older buildings are still recognisable on this map.  I’ve marked a few below: the red circle marks the church, the blue circle is Winster Hall and the green one is probably Winster Market House (now owned by the National Trust).   If you know Winster well, you can no doubt recognise more.

Winster 1769 - 62kb

Of course for lead mining historians this map is also a fascinating resource as the mines themselves are marked.  Plus, if you’d like to see what an 18th century lead miner looked like, there are some lovely images of them:

Lead miners on Winster map - 68kb

We want to thank the Friends of the National Libraries for their grant which enabled us to buy this wonderful map, as well as lead mining historian, Steve Thompson, who also generously contributed to its purchase.

If you’d like to look at the map, just come and visit the Record Office and ask for D8163/1.

 

 

 

William Nightingale’s ‘Domesday Book’: guest post by Dr Richard Bates

Did you know that in a couple of years it will be 200 years since Florence Nightingale was born?  Many people aren’t aware that Florence’s family was from Derbyshire, but to link with her anniversary, the University of Nottingham has a major Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project called Florence Nightingale comes home for 2020. 

One of the researchers on this project, Dr Richard Bates, has been here at the Record Office looking through the records of the Nightingale family and was particularly interested by item D4126/1, snappily titled “Schedule of the Title deeds and Particulars of the Estates of Wm Ed Nightingale, Esq, in Lea, Holloway, Wakebridge, Matlock, Wensley &c &c in the County of Derby”

D4126 1 front

Richard writes:

This volume, dated 1825, was produced either by, or for, William Edward Nightingale (born William Shore), Florence’s father. It was most likely drawn up in the early 1820s. In 1815, William had assumed possession of a considerable estate of land, bestowed on him in the will of the eccentric Derbyshire industrialist Peter Nightingale, his uncle, who had died in 1803. However William, who had to change his name to Nightingale as a condition of taking the inheritance, only came to live in Derbyshire in 1821, having spent the initial years of his married life travelling in Europe, especially Italy. His daughters were named Parthenope, the Greek name for Naples, and Florence, after the cities in which they were born.

D4126 1 open

The book, held in the Derbyshire Record Office in Matlock, is a compendium of every parcel of land comprising the estate built by Peter Nightingale in the Lea / Holloway / Cromford / Matlock Bath region of the Derbyshire Dales. The estate included the cotton mill at Lea – still a going concern as John Smedley Ltd – and a lead smelting factory, as well as agricultural lands, rented cottages, and a large swathe of garden and parkland. The size and annual value of every piece of land is enumerated.

D4126 1 page detail

The book is embossed in gold lettering, perhaps reflecting the importance of the contents to William – it was, in effect, the key to his fortune – and the pride he took in the estate and its management.  An accompanying account book, dated 1820, shows that the annual value of the Lea estate was at least £2200 – equivalent to around £125,000 today – from land totalling over 1100 acres. In total the Nightingale inheritance gave William an annual income of around £7,000. In addition, the Nightingale land in Derbyshire turned out to contain coal deposits, which generated further income that William could invest.

The Nightingale inheritance thus allowed William and his family to lead leisured gentry lives, mixing with and entertaining the great and good of 19th century liberal Britain.

Florence’s father turned out to be a good accountant, marshalling the family fortunes sensibly and solidly over five decades. This was crucial to Florence, who never married, and thus always relied on the family income. Florence could never inherit the estate herself, since Peter Nightingale had stipulated it could only be transmitted through the male line. This left her and her family in a precarious position – if her father had died young, her immediate family would have lost control of the money and been forced into reduced circumstances.

Fortunately, however, William lived until 1874. From 1853, when Florence definitively left the family household, William allowed her an allowance of £500 per year, which gave her independence. Later in life, Florence used the money from her Derbyshire-derived income to live in Mayfair, close to the politicians she was lobbying to enact sanitary reforms.

It’s our anniversary!

Time flies when you’re having fun!  It’s hard to believe that it’s five years ago today that the Record Office and the Local Studies Library joined together in a newly extended and refurbished building.  We were hurriedly tidying away the workmen’s tools as the doors opened and the first customers came in!

It feels like barely five minutes ago, but a lot has happened since February 2013.  Over 88,000 people have come to use the Record Office and we’ve produced 46,575 original documents for our customers.  We’ve also reached over 8700 people outside the Record Office doing events and activities for all ages – and let’s not forget all the emails, letters and calls we’ve received – nearly 17,500.

But numbers don’t tell the real story, so what have we been doing in the last five years?  Here are a few highlights:

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If you really want to get a sense of what we’ve been up to over the last five years, then browsing through this blog tells the story… from cataloguing, digitising and preserving our collections to going out and about engaging people with Derbyshire’s amazing past.

So what do the next five years hold?

Well, in part the future is digital, so we’re working on plans to continue improving digital access to our collections – this is a long process, but in five years’ time (and hopefully sooner!) we should have a radically different website and much more digital content.

In the meantime, we’re finishing off the Amazing Pop Up Archives project, which has seen us ‘popping up’ with our collections around the county.  We are also winding up our NUM cataloguing project and will be blogging more about that in the future.

There are plenty more projects in the pipeline, too – we usually have at least one funding bid on the go for cataloguing, conservation and/or outreach activities, although we can’t say anything on our blog about them until we know whether we’ve been successful.

One new project that started last summer involves a group of volunteers improving our descriptions of maps of the Derwent Valley.  They should be finishing that job soon, after which we will be digitising the maps so they can go online as part of the Derwent Valley Mills ‘Vital Valley’ project.  We’ll be looking to involve more volunteers over the next few years in other projects, building on the group of wonderful people who already support us, so if you’d like to be involved, get in touch.

We’ve had a busy and exciting five years in our lovely building.  Thanks to all our staff, volunteers and customers for being part of the last five years –  here’s to the years to come and all the opportunities they bring!