A history of the archives service for Derbyshire

Late last Spring I began what came to be a rather extensive piece of research into the development of the archives part of Derbyshire Record Office. After so much work I wanted to share what I had found, and on Monday we ran an event featuring a talk about the history of the archives service, an exhibition of our own archives (by which I mean the records we actually created rather than those we look after on behalf of the county) and a behind-the-scenes tour of some of the record office building. We couldn’t do the whole building as it is so big, and to be honest once you have seen one or two of our strong rooms, you have really seen the other 12 or 13 (yes, we do have 14 in total for archives and local studies).

I hope many of the people who read this blog are interested to hear how the record office has developed, and I do intend to write further posts in the future so please watch this space. For now here are a few photographs from the event

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Advent Calendar – Day 21

Just a few days to go…

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Auntie Grace’s wartime Xmas cake, found loose inside the recipe book of Florence (Florie) Bednall, temp. World War Two (Ref: D3269/F/2/1).

There may just be some time to whip this cake together if you fancy it. Here is the ingredients list as it appears in Florie’s recipe book (transcript of the recipe below).

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The Recipe:

  • Sift flour spices & carb soda.
  • Warm a basin & cream well the butter & sugar with the hand. (The whole cake should be mixed with hand. This is much better and quicker than using a wooden spoon).
  • Beat well in one egg at a time, then the glycerine. If there is any danger of the mixture becoming curdled add a pinch of flour (or beat in only the yolks afterwards adding the beaten whites separately). Add the treacle & vanilla then the brandy or sherry.
  • Now add the sifted flour & spices then the prepared fruit & nuts. If a little milk is necessary warm it just enough to take off the chill. The mixture should not be too stiff but must be strong enough to hold fruit in place.
  • Fill the cake tins about two thirds full levelling well & bake in a slow oven 3 1/2 to 4 hours.

As always, if you do give this one a go (even if it is next year), do let us know how it went.

 

 

Treasure 12: Clara Palmer-Morewood’s Recipe Book

The Record Office has many household recipe books (or receipt books as they were known), dating back to the 17th Century.  Our twelfth treasure is the 1830s recipe book of Clara Palmer-Morewood of Alfreton Hall.

Recipe books of this time combine cookery recipes with medicinal and veterinary cures as well as beauty treatments.  Clara’s is a great example, with recipes for fashionable foreign dishes such as ‘fromage fondue’, ‘petty shoes’ (petit choux!) and ‘Spanish fritters’, but also ‘a cure for dogs who are troubled with the snort’, lip salve and a recipe to wash chintz amongst other delights.

Many of Clara’s recipes have been contributed by friends and relations, whose names are given beside each recipe, so the book also gives an insight into Clara’s social circle.  You can see a full list of recipes and their contributors on our online catalogue here, or read some of Becky’s transcriptions of the recipes for rabbit soup, lobster curry, sponge cake, gingerbread, pancakes, ginger beer, mince pies, and biscuit puddings on this blog.

What really makes Clara’s book a treasure, though, is that it has a recipe for Bakewell Pudding dated 1837.  It is a really delicious and easy recipe, which I’ve now made several times!  Legend has it that this local speciality was invented by accident in the 1860s.  Clara’s book shows that this local legend can’t be completely true – and Ivan Day’s excellent research into this question has revealed some even earlier Bakewell Pudding recipes.

D7555/1 Clara Palmer-Morewood recipe book, Alfreton Hall

If you’d like to make the pudding yourself, here’s how to do it:

Line a 7 inch (18cm) metal pie dish with puff pastry.  Spread a couple of tablespoons of jam over the bottom and scatter over some candied orange peel, if you like it, and flaked almonds to taste (about 50g).  As an alternative to jam you can use dried cherries or raisins, finely chopped.  Cherries are better as they are a bit more tart.

In a bowl put 4 egg yolks, 1 egg white, 4 oz (100g) melted better, cooled, and 4 oz (100g) sugar.  Beat for a couple of minutes with an electric whisk until fluffy, pour into the pie dish and bake in the middle of the oven at 180 degrees centigrade (gas mark 5) for 30-35 minutes.

If you give it a try, do leave a comment to let us know whether you enjoyed it!

Will’s Work experience review

Having spent two weeks with the Derbyshire Record Office for work experience, I realised that archiving requires a surprisingly large amount of filing work! Watching programmes like “Who Do You Think You Are?” portrays a more simplistic view of local study offices where everything is prepared for the celebrity as soon as they arrive, with very little work clearly visible. So the level of research, attention to detail and thoroughness I met with at Derbyshire Record Office was surprising. I received a lot of valuable information about the correct way to store and protect documents…

(Below: How best to store delicate documents using the 4 flap folder method)

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…the importance of digitization to the Record Office and the heritage of both Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire through Picture the Past (http://www.picturethepast.org.uk/)
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In particular, I really enjoyed copying out the old recipes of several 19th Century cooks ready for digitization. Although this may not sound incredibly interesting to some, I found the quirky and sometime unintelligible recipes both amusing and a challenge. The recipes of Emily Mary Kilpin, a 15 year old domestic servant for the Thornhill family, were particularly entertaining with their unpredictability, supplying recipes for “egg jelly”, “furniture polish” and a a “cream substitute” in quick succession, and also for the insight into the trends in her cookery with recipes for two different types of lemon curd, a lemon pudding and lemonade all entered on the same page in her book.

(You can find Emily’s recipes in the Derbyshire Record Office online Catalogue by typing in “Mrs M Kilpin” or D307/H/28/5)
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On the other hand, the cookery book of her employers, the Thornhills, highlights a stark contrast between social classes in the early 1900’s society. For example, not only is the handwriting and language more advanced, there are far fewer recipes included by the family, possibly because they did less of their own cooking and relied more upon servants like Emily Kilpin herself.

(You can find the Thornhill’s recipe book by typing “D307/H/28/4” into the Record Office online catalogue)
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Overall, my work experience was hugely enjoyable, the new building and facilites are great, and the staff were all very friendly and helpful. I’d recommend anyone interested in local history or the humanities to make use of the opportunites that the Derbyshire Record Office provide, either for academic, professional or personal reasons.

By Will, the work experience student

Pancake recipe for Shrove Tuesday

D7555/1

Looking for a slightly different recipe for this year’s pancakes? Why not try this recipe from Clara’s friend Mrs Coke at Depdale.

Pancakes

Take three spoonfulls of fine flour, a pint of Cream, Six Eggs, three spoonfuls of sack or sweet wine, One of Orange flower Water, a little sugar, half a nutmeg grated, and half a pound of melted butter almost cold, mix all well together, and butter the pan for the first Pancake, let them run as thin as possible, and when they are first coloured, they will be enough, In this manner all the fine Pancakes should be fried

Mrs John Coke

Depdale

Recipe for Biscuit Puddings

D7555/1Biscuit Puddings

Take six oz. of Sugar, six oz. of flour, 6 oz. of Butter, and the Yolks of six Eggs, beat the Butter to a cream, then beat the Yolks of the eggs and add them to the Butter, Stir the sugar and Flour in separately by degrees, beat these Ingredients well together before you bake them, they require a moderate Oven – when [?]sent up they should be ornamented with a little orange marmalade – Mrs Miller, Radway

 

Send us photos of your biscuit puddings and we will put them up on the blog – please email Record.Office@derbyshire.gov.uk

Latest recipe from Clara: Lobster Curry

Lobster CurryD7555/1 Clara Palmer-Morewood recipe book p83

Get fresh boiled lobsters and take as much of the meat, spawn, and head as weill be about a pound. Melt a table spoonful of butter in a stew pan, and add to it the lobster and two table spoonfuls of fish curry paste to be had of the oilmen (not powder) and one and a half wine glass of cold water; stew gently for fifteen minutes and it is done.

Le Papier de Nouvelle [The Paper of New]

Clara’s recipe for a light sponge cake

And why not give this a go over the bank holiday weekend for your Jubilee celebrations

D7555/1 page 8To make a light sponge cake

Take seven eggs, leaving out three of the whites, three quarters of a pound of sugar, half a pound of flour, a quarter of a pint of water, which put to the sugar and make it scolding hot, then put in the eggs wisking them very quick for a full hour, then add the flour, a little lemon peel, rose or orange flower water may be added according to your taste.

We certainly want to hear from anyone who tries this recipe and whisks the mixture “very quick for a full hour” – pictures please (to Record.Office@derbyshire.gov.uk).