This is where I note my efforts as I try to recreate some old recipes. Most are taken from my small collection of handwritten recipe books which date from the late 1700's to around 1922. I also have a collection of old tatty old recipe books, well thumbed and heavily splashed from years of use. I love them all!

The old-fashioned very stylised handwriting writing is sometimes difficult to decipher, measurements and cooking instructions are minimal, no tin sizes given. Luckily I enjoy a challenge. Just to complicate things I cook and bake on my wood-fired Rayburn, which can be... unpredictable.

I suspect this blog is less about the food and more about my passion for these lovely old books and the wonderful women who wrote them.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Another Old Book

On the bookshelves, right next to my old recipe books, there is an old hardback notebook.     It is quite unremarkable on the outside, with ugly maroon coloured boards.   I can see from a note on the flyleaf that it cost the princely sum of one shilling and ten pence in old money, when it was purchased by my parents, in 1947.

The book doesn't contain recipes but it does list the many things which my parents purchased for their "bottom drawer"  when they became engaged to be married, way back in 1947.     One of the items listed is the knife which is perched on top of the book.    It is an old bread knife and was in use throughout my childhood and up until the day my parents died.

It is not a particularly special knife, the saw part is stainless steel and the handle is plastic, but it works as efficiently today as it did all those years ago.

It cost my parents five shillings and six pence which is less than 30 pence in today's money.

Thanks to my father's notes I can tell you exactly how much their first sofa and chairs cost them, their dining room suite, rugs, butter dish and linoleum.     I can also tell you that they spent the princely sum of £30 on their wedding in November 1947.

For me, it is a fascinating collection.

A bit further into the book and I can see that when they found they were expecting their first child, my older brother,  they itemised all their purchases and costs.  

The beautiful,  Silver Cross Pram cost them just over £16, while his high chair was £8-8-0d  and his first teddy bear was purchased for £3-0-0.    I still have that teddy bear.   He is a very old and much loved, worn and tatty old bear.

I dare say that the knife will outlive the bear but they are both treasured by me, just as this book is something which I occasionally flick through with great interest and enjoyment.

This little volume is definitely worthy of a place among my most cherished books.


  1. What amazing history. That book surely is a treasure and an heirloom.

  2. My late father kept accounts of when he built our home in Surrey. Everything was in there; architects fees, fencing, cost of fruit trees for the orchard, etc. I came across it just after he died, and sent it to the new owners of the house. I told them to pin it to a beam in the loft.

  3. Hi Linda,
    I do enjoy little gems like this. My father documented their engagement party, guests, gifts, etc. He also wrote about the day my brother was born and his excitement at being allowed to see the baby. I'm so glad he didn't burn it when he had a massive sort-out after my mother died!

    Hello Cro,
    One can only hope that the mice haven't nibbled it too much and that the present owners appreciate it for the gem that it is! I love these links to the past.

  4. Hi Elaine, where I am working now, I am currently working my way through all of the paperwork and ledgers. Very much like this. The head housekeeper, the cook and the estate manager kept very exacting accounts. Even down to the cook having the menu card slotted into the day with all of the ingredients listed. The estate manager list the bottles of wine taken from the cellar and what was returned.

    There is one entry that was a small book that was in a pocket at the front of the house keepers books that details when peoples pay was to be docked. This could be for anything from an iron burn on fabric, to being drunk on the way back from the village, to not going to church. There was an entry for pay being docked for 3 flowers that were over the top of the wall outside the land, being taken by a member of staff for their 'sweet heart'. This was obviously forbidden, a whole weeks wage! wow

    The sorting of the main boxes has taken me 3 months. I am not reading them all, but I have to find all of the receipts for the last 10 years, quotes and invoices. And the old ledgers are just tooooooo tempting to not take a glimpse!

    No recipe books though. :(

  5. Hi Sol, That sounds like hard work, but so interesting. I can well imagine the temptation you are faced with! Can't bear to think of the terrible impact that losing a whole weeks wages would have had, I hope it didn't tear the sweethearts apart.