Posted in Activity, Bringing Alive The Past, Event, History, Literature, Museum, Rural Heritage, Vintage, World War Two

The Magic of Christmas Past – UK Events 2012

Carol singers at Blists Hill Victorian Town, Telford, Shropshire.
Carol singers at Blists Hill Victorian Town, Telford, Shropshire.

If you have been looking for a festive activity with a heritage twist, then search no more, I have done all the hard work for you.  Here are my recommendations for the best nostalgia events taking place, throughout the UK, over the next few weeks. All you have to do is choose an era then allow yourself to be transported back in time to celebrate the magic of Christmas past. There are events here to suit all ages and interests.

For information on each event, simply click on the relevant property address.


  • Caerphilly Medieval Christmas Fayre. Caerphilly town centre, South Wales. Saturday 8th December (10am-5pm) and Sunday 9th December (10am-4pm). Apart from fifty market stalls there will be a hog roast, mulled wine, Medieval magician, dragon puppeteers, Jack the jester, dragon stilt walker. Father Christmas will be arriving on a horse and cart and travelling through the town centre to Caerphilly Castle.  Free (town centre only).
  • The Medieval Christmas. Belsay Hall, Castle and Gardens, Belsay, Nr Morpeth, Northumberland. Saturday 8th December and Sunday 9th December. Christmas gifts will be on sale and children can dress-up in Medieval costumes.  Re-enactors, Heuristics, will be giving lively presentations containing facts about Christmas during Medieval times. Presentations each day will take place at 11.15am, 12.30pm, 1.45 and 3pm. Charges apply but English Heritage members are free.


  • Elizabethan Christmas. Plas Mawr, Conwy, Wales. Saturday 8th December (11am- 4pm) and Sunday 9th December (11am-4pm). Plas Mawr is a stunning Elizabethan house built between 1576 and 1585 for wealthy merchant Robert Wynn.  There will be mince pies, mulled wine, music and a range of other activities, plus a visit from a green Father Christmas! Charges apply.


  • Jane Austen’s festive birthday. Jane Austen’s House Museum, Chawton, Alton, Hampshire. Come and celebrate Jane Austen’s birthday on Sunday 16th December (10.30am-4.30pm) in the pretty village of Chawton, rural Hampshire. Jane lived in Chawton, with her family, from 1809 until a shortly before her death in 1817. This atmospheric, 17th century house, is the perfect choice if you prefer a quieter slice of Christmas nostalgia.  On the day, visitors can enjoy a complimentary coffee and mince pie.  Free (for Sunday 16th December only).


  • Victorian Christmas Weekends. Blists Hill Victorian Town,  Legges Way, Madeley, Telford, Shropshire. Saturday 8th December (10am-4pm), Sunday 9th December (10am-4pm), Saturday 15th December (10am-4pm) and Sunday 16th December (10am-4pm). If, like myself, you were riveted by the BBC series Victorian Pharmacy (2010) or simply have a passion for the Victorian era, then you will thoroughly enjoy celebrating Christmas in the atmospheric surroundings of Blists Hill Victorian Town.
    Blists Hill Christmas Grocers.
    Blists Hill Victorian Town.  Christmas Grocers.

    Step back in time and be treated to an array of traditional celebrations from the 1800s, listen to stories of life more than one hundred years ago and do some Christmas present shopping. Gifts on offer around the town will include traditionally made cast-iron paperweights and doorstops, handmade plaster decorations and even rocking horses, all produced in the Gorge by skilled craftsmen and women. There will also be a huge range of unusual items in the museum gift shop.

    Victorian Christmas celebrations at Blists Hill. Duke of Sutherland Cottage.
    Victorian Christmas celebrations at Blists Hill Victorian Town. Duke of Sutherland Cottage.

    Mr Morton’s Christmas Celebrations will once again see the magnificent Iron Rolling Mill transformed into a place for a ‘workers Christmas party’. Here visitors will be able to enjoy festive food and a wide variety of seasonal entertainment, such as Christmas songs, Punch and Judy and even a magic show. You can also sing-a-long with carol singers and listen to brass bands around the town, which will be festooned with traditional Christmas decorations as the townsfolk prepare seasonal goodies and make traditional Victorian presents.Families will have the option of visiting Father Christmas (extra charge in addition to entrance fee). Across on The Green, they will also be able to see and pet Father Christmas’ reindeer before their mammoth journey around the world on Christmas Eve. Charges apply.

    Blists Hill Victorian Town. Pet a reindeer at this year's Victorian Christmas weekends.
    Blists Hill Victorian Town. Pet a reindeer at one of this year’s Victorian Christmas Weekends.
  • A Victorian Christmas. Apsley House, Hyde Park Corner, LondonSaturday 8th December (11am-4pm) and Sunday 9th December (11am-4pm). Home to the Duke of Wellington after his victory over Napoleon at Waterloo, located near to Hyde Park and Wellington Arch. See how the dinner table would have been laid for a Victorian Christmas feast and get into the festive spirit with traditional music and dance from the period. Charges apply but English Heritage members are free.
  • A Very Victorian Christmas. Tudor House and Garden, Southampton, Hampshire. Saturday 15th December (10am-5pm) and Sunday 16th December (10am-5pm). On both days, in two separate sessions (10.30am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-3.30pm), there will be Christmas crafts family workshops where you can make a Victorian-inspired peg doll angel or a reindeer spoon puppet. You can also meet Father Christmas and his helpers in the grotto. Charges apply but if you download a special voucher one child (6-16) goes free when accompanied by a full paying adult.

    Osborne House, Isle of Wight.
    Osborne House, Isle of Wight.
  • Festive Guided Tours – Queen Victoria’s royal retreat. Osborne House, York Avenue, East Cowes, Isle of Wight. Osborne House will be beautifully decorated throughout the Christmas period and festive guided tours are available Wednesdays to Sundays (except 26th December) until Sunday 6th January 2013. The expert guide will tell you how Christmas was celebrated at Osborne when Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their nine children were in residence. It is essential to pre-book your place on the tour by calling 01983 200022 or their bookings mobile 0777 526 5278 (standard mobile rates apply). The House is open at 10am and closes at 4pm, the last tour is at 2.30pm.  Charges apply but English Heritage members are free. Even if you are an English Heritage member you must still book pre-book your place on a tour.


  • Evacuee Christmas Party. St. Barbe Museum, Lymington, Hampshire. Saturday 22nd December (10.30am-3.30pm). Experience Christmas through the eyes of an Evacuee. There will be free children’s activities and traditional music and games in a community air-raid shelter. After all that excitement there will be an afternoon tea of traditional party food. If you come dressed as an Evacuee you will get free entry to the museum otherwise, normal charges apply.


  • The Museum at ChristmasWeald & Downland Museum, Chichester, West Sussex. Wednesday 26th December until Tuesday 1st January 2013 (10.30am-4pm).  If you cannot decide on one particular era and have not got time to fit a heritage event in before Christmas Day, then this annual event at Weald & Downland Open Air Museum is the perfect choice.  Experience the traditions of Christmas past and discover how our forebears enjoyed the festive season. The Museum has fifty rescued buildings covering the time period, c.1300 to c.1910 all set in the beautiful Lavant Valley. Many of the houses will be traditionally decorated and have crackling log fires. Charges apply.
Father Christmas reading letters and Christmas lists at Milestones.
Father Christmas reading letters and Christmas lists at Milestones.


  • This year, Milestones, a Living History Museum near Basingstoke, Hampshire is bringing back the traditional Father Christmas experience. Not a hint of commercialisation, just lovely, old-fashioned charm where children can meet Farther Christmas in a magical setting.
    Father Christmas in his grotto at Milestones.
    Father Christmas in his grotto at Milestones.
    Following her visit to his grotton, a delighted little girl receives her gift from Father Christmas. Milestones.
    Following her visit to his grotto, a delighted little girl receives her gift from Father Christmas. Milestones.

    His grotto will be located in the heart of this superb Museum, surrounded by buildings and shops from the Victorian era through to the 1940s. After meeting Father Christmas, you can take a family stroll through the full size, cobbled streets and make a visit to the 1940s sweetshop where you can exchange your penny for 2 0zs of sweets, this was the weekly ration allowed during World War Two. The sweetshop is open from 1pm-3pm weekdays and 12noon-4pm at Weekends, Bank Holidays and during the school holidays. There are also friendly costumed interpreters who will delight and enchant you with tales of days gone by.

    Milestones. The 1940s living-room decorated for Christmas.
    Milestones. The 1940s living-room decorated for Christmas.
    Milestones Living History Museum, Basingstoke.
    Milestones Living History Museum, Basingstoke.

    Pre-booking to meet Father Christmas is essential – Telephone: 01256 477766. Each child will receive a gift from Father Christmas.  It costs £3 per child, aged 0-15, to visit Father Christmas plus the normal entry charges. He visits Milestones on the following dates:

Saturday 8 December
Sunday 9 December
Saturday 15 December
Sunday 16 December
Saturday 22 December
Sunday 23 December

Details of opening times at Milestones over the Christmas period can be found here.

Chesil Street Station decorated for Christmas. Milestones.
Chesil Street Station decorated for Christmas. Milestones Living History Museum.
I wonder who the Christmas parcels are for? Milestones Living History Museum.
I wonder who the Christmas parcels are for? Milestones Living History Museum.
Posted in Activity, Archaeology, Bringing Alive The Past, Event, Exhibition, Fashion History, History, Horticultural History, Maritime History, Museum, Rural Heritage

Happy 100th Birthday Tudor House & Garden, Southampton

Tudor House and Garden, Southampton as it appears today.

On the 29th July this year, Tudor House and Garden, Southampton celebrated its 100th birthday. The museum was officially opened on the afternoon of Monday, 29th July, 1912, by the Mayor of Southampton Henry Bowyer. The attraction gave a much-needed boost to Southampton’s morale following the sinking of R.M.S. Titanic less than four months prior.

Old poster advertising Tudor House Museum.

In 1912, the museum’s opening hours were 10am to 6pm during the summer and 10am to 4pm in winter, with an admission charge of 6d but free on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays. The museum’s first curator, Mr Nicholas, did not receive payment for his role.  Nicholas worked extremely hard to ensure that the museum was ready for its grand opening. He also organised the transformation of a former cabbage patch behind Tudor House to be turned into an old English garden.  In the 1980s the garden was re-planned by landscape designer Dr Sylvia Landsberg. Dr Landsberg wanted the garden to resemble a Tudor knot garden from the 1500s.

The garden at Tudor House that was designed by Dr Sylvia Landsberg.

Nicholas continued as Honorary Curator for over twenty years. During that time, he used his own money to fund trips to source objects for the museum. He worked tirelessly to assemble the museum’s eclectic range of objects. Eventually, the council appointed a professional curatorial team to manage the collection.

Selection of souvenirs sold at Tudor House museum in the last 100 years.
Unusual objects that were on display when the museum first opened in 1912.
Fireman’s helmet from the Napoleonic era. Before the helmet originally went on display in the museum, it was part of William Spranger’s own collection which was housed in a private museum at King John’s Palace, behind Tudor House.

According to A. G. K. Leonard in The Saving of Tudor House, the museum’s first year of opening was a great success:

The people of Southampton evidently appreciated the town’s first museum.  In September, 1913, the Borough Council received the report of its Estates Committee which included an account by R. E. Nicholas of the first year of Tudor House (ST 13 September 1913): this stated that 18,400 people had signed the visitors’ book there and that “probably quite twice that number had visited the house”….It was also reported that £30.10s. had been taken on “pay days” i.e. 1,220 sixpences…Alderman Bance told the council that in the first few months since its publication 1,958 copies of the history of Tudor House, a booklet by F. J. C. Hearnshaw, had been sold, along with 2,870 of the picture postcards of the house published by the Corporation.

(Leonard, A.G.K., 1987, pp. 27-28)

A Tudor gentleman helps celebrate the museum’s 100th birthday.

To commemorate the centenary, the current museum staff organised a wonderful day at Tudor House on Sunday 29th July, with an entrance fee of 6p! Staff also dressed in Edwardian and Tudor costume.

My attempts at making a mosaic coaster.

Grouting my mosaic coaster.
My finished mosaic coaster.

One of the activities organised by the museum as part of the centenary celebrations was a mosaic workshop in nearby Westgate Hall (formerly known as Tudor Merchant’s Hall).

I took this piece of flint along to be appraised by the archaeologist. I have kept it wrapped-up in a box since I was a child. Had I found a prehistoric axe head? Sadly no, just a nice piece of flint. Oh well, at least it puts that mystery to bed.

An Archaeologist was also on hand in the main museum to help identify any finds brought in.

Over the last five hundred years some of Tudor House’s many interesting owners/occupiers have included:

  • Walter and Jane William – Walter inherited Tudor House from his father. Walter was a wealthy merchant who exported wool and cloth and imported salt, wine, leather, oil, fish and woad. When Walter died, Jane inherited the building. Jane married husband number two, Sir John Dawtrey;
  • Sir John Dawtrey – Sir John was Overseer of the Port of Southampton and Collector of the King’s Customs. Following Jane’s death he married Isabel Shirley in 1509 and they had a son, Francis, in 1510. Sir John died in 1518;
  • Lady Isabel Lyster (formerly Dawtrey). Lady Isabel, Dawtrey’s widow, ran Tudor House for ten years. She was a successful businesswoman who traded in millstones for windmills and watermills. She also rented the Cloth Hall in St. Michael’s Square from 1526 to 1531;
  • Sir Richard Lyster (c.1480-1553) – Sir Richard married Lady Isabel in 1528. They became Southampton’s power couple, amassing a huge joint wealth. Sir Richard was a Judge and Lord Chief Justice of England.  He attended Queen Anne Boleyn’s (1501-1536) coronation, riding in the procession beforehand. He also took part in the trial of Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) and was Henry VIII’s (1491-1547) divorce lawyer. During their time in residence at Tudor House, Lord and Lady Lyster had eight servants, a bake house and a dairy. Following Isabel’s death, Sir Richard married Elizabeth Stoke, they had two children, Michael (d. 1551) and Elizabeth;
  • William Lankester (1798-1875) – an iron and brass founder and furnishing ironmonger;

    Photograph of Tudor House in 1880. Notice G. Cawte’s shop on the left and Pope & Co on the right.
  • George Henry Pope – tenant of the northern section of Tudor House and grounds along Blue Anchor Lane from 1868. Pope was a dyer, clothes and furniture cleaner and had a shop at the front of the House. His trade advertisement read: ‘Ladies’ dresses of every description cleaned or dyed. British and foreign shawls, scarfs, & c., cleaned by a process that will ensure the colours being preserved.  Gentlemen’s wearing apparel and servants’ liveries of every description cleaned in a superior style.’ At the height of Queen Victoria’s reign mourning customswere strict. For one year and one day a widow had to wear ‘widow weeds’, the only colour permissible being black. Colour restrictions extended to jewellery and all accessories. After a year and a day she could progress to ‘half mourning’ where she would be permitted to wear a touch of white or grey, then perhaps lavender and after two years full colour could be worn again.  It was customary for a Victorian widow to have her clothing dyed black and after two years re-dyed back to its original colour. Pope offered this popular service to his customers: ‘Articles for mourning dyed on the shortest notice…. The black extracted from silk, satin, Merino, cloth,& Co., and the material dyed to a variety of patterns’;

    A selection of tools used by Cawte’s family bookbinding business.
  • Henry G. Cawte – opened his family bookbinding business at Tudor House (then known as Old Palace House, 9 St. Michael’s Square) in 1859;

    Tools belonging to Eliza Simmonds.
  • Eliza Simmonds – a straw-bonnet maker, milliner and dressmaker who took a tenancy of part of Tudor House from 1869-80.  During the first half of Queen Victoria’s (1819-1901) reign the straw plait industrywas an important trade, supplying the flourishing straw-bonnet industry, particularly in Bedfordshire. Straw-bonnets with decorative flourishes were very fashionable. Straw plaiting, used as a basis for the straw-bonnets, was a popular source of income for women living in rural homesteads and a thriving cottage industry developed. It was always easy to spot a straw plait maker, the corner of her lips would be badly scarred as a result of moistening the splints from the straw bundle. If the straw had already been dyed, then her mouth would also be colour-stained;

    A pretty Victorian straw bonnet by Eliza Simmonds.
  • Josiah George Poole (1818-1897) – Poole had originally lived at Tudor House during the 1850s. He returned again in 1883 to set-up home alongside his business, J. G. Poole & Sons. Poole was an architect and surveyor who worked extensively on local projects including the Masonic Hall in Albion Place and restoration of the south side of the Bargate (1864-5).A. G. K. Leonard writes of the Poole family: ‘….Poole’s large family (he had five children by his first wife and sixteen by his second, although not all survived infancy) gathered for dinner in the Banqueting Hall.’ (Leonard, A.G. K., 1987, p. 4);

    Oil painting by V. C. Batalha Reis Ariba, painted in 1921, of Edward Cooper Poole, son of Josiah George Poole. Edward worked with his father and one of his many commissions was to re-design Southampton Royal Pier which opened in 1930.
Oil painting, by an unknown artist, of Mr Spranger, c. 1915. His portrait hangs in one of the upstairs exhibition rooms so that he can continue to survey all that he has created.

William Francis Gummer Spranger (1848-1917)

Without William Spranger there would be no Tudor House museum. He was a public-spirited man and epitome of the Victorian philanthropist.  Tudor House museum is Spranger’s legacy to the people of Southampton and everyone who is passionate about the city’s history and heritage. He brought the entire freehold property of Tudor House and Norman House from W. G. Lankester for £1,450 in 1886. Spranger was educated at Oxford and during his time living in Southampton (from 1893 until his death), took an active interest in local educational matters.  He was a governor and benefactor of Hartley College (now the University of Southampton), Chairman of the Southampton School of Art, president of the Hampshire Field Club 1904-5, the first chairman of the Southampton Record Society and in 1898 was appointed governor of Taunton’s College (now Richard Taunton Sixth Form College) and King Edward VI School. In true story-book style, Spranger’s last death-bed message was to the boys of the Endowed Schools [Taunton’s and King Edward VI] – “lead good lives and play straight”.  For his funeral at St. Michael’s, the church troop of boy scouts formed a guard of honour and at the cemetery the path to his grave was lined by boys of Taunton’s and King Edward VI Schools. (Leonard, A.G.K., 1987, pp.10-11)

Old photograph showing interior of Tudor House last century.

Tudor House has undergone a number of substantial restorations during its lifetime. The first being in the early sixteenth century, another under Spranger’s watchful eye between 1898 and 1902, some ten years before the museum finally opened.  The last major restoration took place between 2001 and 2011 when the Museum received £3.5 million of Heritage Lottery Fund Grants (for more information on this please see my article of 28th July 2011. CLICK HERE.)

Spranger said of his restoration of Tudor House:

“….the original building had undergone changes in the course of the centuries which he had no knowledge of when the builders’ men were set to work.  Externally, herring-bone brickwork had been covered over with stucco and characteristic timbering of the Tudor period was hidden in many parts.  Inside, some very remarkable discoveries were made.  Lath and plaster ceilings had been fixed below the original ceilings of panelled oak, great chestnut beams had been similarly hidden, windows blocked up, fire-places altered and many of the principal beauties, as now visible, defaced and despoiled. Every new find was a great temptation to go on and I spent so much money having things put as right as possible again that I was compelled to pull myself up.”

(Leonard, A.G.K., 1987, p. 15)

Tudor House and Garden is such a wonderful place to visit, a true gem in the old town of Southampton City. For visitor information please CLICK HERE.

Montage of old photographs showing the interior of Tudor House museum just after it opened in 1912.

Posted in History, Mrs Beeton, Museum, Vintage

Vintage Ice Cream

Vintage ice-cream cart. On display at Portsmouth City Museum.

Hoorah, Summer has finally arrived in Southern England.  Temperatures are reaching 30◦C and I find myself daydreaming of jelly, ice-cream and al fresco dining.

According to food historian Kate Colquhoun, in her brilliant book Taste: The Story of Britain Through its Cooking (2007), ice cream or cream ice as it was originally known, first appeared in Britain in 1671:

….a single sweetened cream ice was served to Charles II at the Garter Feast of 1671 at St. George’s Hall – its first written record in Britain….The difficulty in Britain lay in finding ice at the height of summer.  James I had snow pits dug for storing ice cut from lakes and rivers in winter.  Two brick-lined pits were constructed at Greenwich in 1620 and another at Hampton Court five years later…Charles II, began to construct ice-houses in Upper St. James’s Park.  The Duchess of Lauderdale was one of the first to copy him, at Ham House, and by the time Celia Fiennes toured the country on horseback in 1702, she was able to note several ice-houses without surprise.


Cream-freezer illustration featured in Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 1915 edition.

A bowl containing cream mixture is placed in a bucket and the gap between the bowl and bucket is filled-in with ice.  Salt is added to the ice and the cream mixture in the bowl begins to freeze. When salt melts ice it draws heat away from anything it touches, therefore the temperature reduces around the bowl and the cream mixture freezes.

Stork fountain (1872) made by Minton & Company. Made of pottery and painted with majolica opaque glaze colour. The fountain was made for the Royal Dairy in Windsor Great Park. Jets of cold water from the fountain cooled the air in days before refrigeration was available. On display at Portsmouth City Museum.

The Victorians, including Queen Victoria, loved ice-cream.  Writing in her Journal at Windsor Castle, on Sunday 24th November 1839, she mentions the economic impact to the Royal household of creating an ice cellar: ‘ …as the expense of getting ice was so enormous, and that the Queen Dowager got all hers from Hampton Court.’ (p. 81, Lord Esher’s typescript, for original CLICK HERE)

Food historian extraordinaire, Ivan Day, has a superb website, www.historicfood.coma must-read for all devotees of food history.  It is currently my favourite site, well-written, nicely illustrated and easy to navigate around.  The recipes section is a particular favourite of mine, do have a look at the section on ‘Georgian Ices’, it contains a history of ice-cream and some recipes to try (CLICK HERE). Ivan runs a wide range of historic cookery courses too, including ‘Dairy and Ices’ which includes a lesson on how to make moulded ices Victorian style.

Illustration showing the vast range of ice-cream and jelly moulds available in Edwardian and Victorian times. Illustration from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1915 edition).

My Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1915 edition) has a large number of ‘Recipes for Ices’. Mrs B also includes a substantial instructions on the equipment and process involved in making ice-cream.  Here are some extracts:

Freezing Machines

Recent years have introduced a variety of machines for making ices, but the ordinary old-fashioned pewter freezing pot still holds its own, and deservedly so, for it is reliable and satisfactory in every way, although its use entails a little more labour on the operator, and the process is slower than with the newly invented machines. Nearly all the machines in present use are supplied with an outer compartment constructed to hold the ice and salt, and an inner receptacle in which the mixture to be frozen is placed, and revolved by means of a handle. (p.988)

Freezing Mixture

The materials usually employed for this purpose are ice and coarse salt, or freezing salt, the correct proportion being 1lb of salt to 7 or 8lb of ice.  More salt than this is often added with a view to making the mixture freeze more quickly, which it does for a short time, but the large proportion of salt causes the ice to speedily melt, and the freezing operation comes to a standstill unless the ice is frequently renewed.  The ice tub or outer compartment of the freezing machine must be filled with alternate layers of crushed ice and salt.  A good layer of ice at the bottom of the tub enables the freezing pot to turn more easily and more quickly than if it were placed on the bare wood. (p.988)

Preparation of Ices

The mixture to be frozen is placed in the freezing machine, and the lid firmly secured.  When the vessel has been quickly turned for a short time, a thin coating of ice will have formed on the sides.  This must be scraped down with the spatula, and well mixed with the liquid contents, and as soon as another layer has formed it must be dealt with in the same manner.  This, and the turning, is continued until the mixture acquires a thick creamy consistency, when it is ready for moulding.  To ensure success the following rules should be observed:

  1. Avoid putting warm mixtures into the freezing pot;
  2. Add sweetening ingredients with discretion;
  3. Avoid, as much as possible, the use of tin and copper utensils;
  4. Carefully wipe the lid of the freezer before raising it, so as to prevent any salt getting into the mixture. (p.989)

Moulding Ices

The ice, in the semi-solid condition in which it is taken from the freezing machine, is put into dry moulds, and well shaken and pressed down in the shape of them.  If there is the least doubt about the lid fitting perfectly, it is better to seal the opening with a layer of lard, so as to effectually exclude the salt and ice.  In any case the mould should be wrapped in 2 or 3 folds of kitchen paper when the freezing has to be completed in a pail.  1 part of salt should be added to 3 parts of ice, and the quantity must be sufficient to completely surround the mould.  It should be kept covered with ice and salt for 3 or 4 hours, when it will be ready to unmould.  When a charged ice cave is available, the ice is simply moulded, placed in the cave, and kept there until sufficiently frozen. (p. 989)

Unmoulding Ices

Ices should be kept in the moulds, buried in ice, until required.  When ready to serve, remove the paper and the lard when it has been used, dip the mould into cold water, and turn the ice on to a dish in the same ways as a jelly or cream. (p. 989)

 Banana Cream Ice

Ingredients: 1 1/4 pints of custard, 1/4 of a pint of cream, 6 bananas, 1 tablespoonful of lemon-juice, 1 tablespoonful of Curaçoa or brandy.

Method: Pass the bananas through a fine hair sieve.  Prepare the custard as directed, and whip the cream stiffly.  When the custard is sufficiently cool, add the banana pulp, lemon-juice and Curaçoa, stir the cream in lightly, and freeze.

Biscuit Cream Ice

Ingredients: Ice-cream, Savoy biscuits.

Method: Line a plain ice mould with Savoy biscuits, put in the frozen cream ice, cover, and pack in ice until required.

Cherry Cream Ice

Ingredients: 1 pint of custard, 3/4 lb of ripe cherries, 2 ozs of castor sugar, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 tablespoonful of Kirschwasser or other liquer, carmine (or in the 21st century red food colouring!).

Method: Stone the fruit, crack the stones, take out the kernels, place both cherries and kernels in a basin, add the sugar, lemon-juice, Kirschwasser, cover, and let the preparation stand for 1/2 an hour.  Then pour all into a copper stewpan, add 1/2 a pint of water, cook until the cherries are tender and rub through a fine sieve.  Add the prepared custard and a few drops of carmine, and freeze.

Iced Tutti-Frutti

Ingredients: 1 oz of pistachios, blanched and shredded, 1 oz of glacé cherries, 1oz of glacé apricots, 1/2 an oz of mixed candied peel, all cut into small dice, 1/2 a pint of cream stiffly whipped, 1/2 a gill of Maraschino, 2 whites of eggs stiffly whipped, vanilla essence, 8 ozs of sugar, 5 yolks of eggs, 1 pint of milk.

Method: Boil the milk, add the yolks of eggs and sugar, stir and cook very gently for a few minutes, then strain and, when cold, add vanilla essence to taste.  Partially freeze, add the whites of eggs, cream, nuts and fruit, and when the freezing process is nearly completed, put in the Maraschino.

Syrup for Water Ices

Ingredients: 2 lbs of loaf sugar, 1 pint of water.

Method: Put the sugar and water into a copper sugar-boiler or stewpan; when dissolved place over a clear fire, and boil until a syrup is formed, taking care to remove the scum as it rises.  If a saccharometer is available for testing the heat of the syrup, it should be boiled until it registers 220◦F.

Grape sorbet illustration from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1915 edition).

Melon Water Ice

Ingredients: 1 medium-sized ripe melon, 4 ozs of sugar, the juice of 2 oranges, the juice of 2 lemons, 1 wineglassful of Maraschino, 1 quart of water.

Method: Peel and slice the melon, simmer for 10 minutes with the water and sugar, and rub through a fine hair sieve.  When cool, add the strained orange and lemon-juice, the Maraschino, and, if necessary, a little more sugar.  Freeze.

Red Currant Water Ice

Ingredients: 1lb of red currants, 1/2 a lb of raspberries, 1 quart of syrup, the juice of 1 lemon.

Method: Pick the fruit and rub it through a hair sieve.  Prepare the syrup according to the recipe, pour it over the fruit pulp, add the strained lemon-juice, and when cold freeze.

Tangerine Water Ice

Ingredients: 6 tangerines, 2 oranges, 2 lemons, 4 ozs of loaf sugar, 1 pint of syrup.

Method: Rub the sugar on the rind of the tangerines to extract some of the flavour.  Place the sugar in a saucepan, add the thin rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon, 1/4 pint of cold water, and boil the mixture for 10 minutes.  Skim if necessary, add the juice of the oranges and lemons, and the syrup, boil up, then strain, and, when cold, freeze.

Illustration of an ice pudding, from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1915 edition).

Iced Pudding

Ingredients: 1 1/2 pints of vanilla custard, 2 ozs of crystallized apricots shredded,    2 ozs of glacé cherries shredded, 1 pint of cream, an assortment of crystallized fruit.

Method: Partially freeze the custard, and add the shredded fruit, and the cream stiffly whipped.  Continue the freezing till of right consistency, fill up a fruit shaped mould, and keep the remainder of the mixture in a frozen condition.  When ready, unmould, and arrange the unmoulded portion of the ice mixture and assorted fruit on top.

China version of an ice pudding. On display in the Victorian kitchen at Tudor House and Garden, Southampton, Hampshire.

Neapolitan Ice

Ingredients: 1/4 of a pint of strawberry or raspberry pulp, 1/2 an oz of grated chocolate, 3 yolks of eggs, 1 1/2 pints of milk, 1/2 a pint of cream, 3 ozs of castor sugar, 1/2 a teaspoonful of vanilla essence, carmine or cochineal (use red food colouring in the 21st century!).

Method: Cream the yolks of eggs and 3 ozs of castor sugar well together.  Add the rest of the sugar to the milk, and when boiling pour on to the yolks of eggs and sugar, stirring vigorously meanwhile.  Replace in the stewpan, and stir by the side of the fire until the mixture thickens, then strain.  Dissolve the chocolate in 1 tablespoonful of water, mix wi it 1/3 of the custard, and let it cool.  Mix the fruit pulp with half the remaining custard, and if necessary add a few drops of carmine.  To the other third of the custard add the vanilla essence.  Whip the cream slightly, divide it into 3 equal portions, and add 1 to each preparation.  Freeze separately, then pack in layers in a Neopolitan ice-box, or, failing this, a mould best suited to the purpose. Cover close, and pack in salt and ice for about 2 hours.  Serve cut across in slices.

Neapolitan ices illustration from Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1915 edition).

Further Reading

  • Icehouses by Tim Buxbaum (2008), published by Shire Library (278)
  • Ice Cream: History by Ivan Day (2011), published by Shire Library (614).
  • Taste: The Story of Britain Through it Cooking by Kate Coquhoun (2008), published by Bloomsbury PLC.

    A selection of vintage ice-cream bowls, glasses and dishes from Verrecchia’s cafe that was located in Guildhall Square, Portsmouth, Hampshire. Verrecchia’s opened in 1933 and traded until 1970. Opened by Augusto Verrecchia and his father on 6th July 1933. No. 8 is for Knickerbocker glory; no 9 is for parfait; no. 10 is an ice-cream dish commissioned for Verrecchia’s in the 1930s and no. 11 is for sundaes. On display at Portsmouth City Museum.

From Verrecchia’s, Portsmouth. On display at Portsmouth City Museum.
Posted in Activity, Event, Exhibition, History, Museum, TV Programme, World War Two

The Olympic Games in London 1908, 1948 & Southampton Olympic Torch Relay 2012

Emblem worn by 1908 British Olympian Clarence Brickwood Kingsbury. Clarence won two gold medals in cycling. The emblem was sewn onto the front of his jersey. From a recent display about Clarence at Portsmouth City Museum.

The Opening Ceremony of London 2012 Olympics takes place this Friday, 27th July at 8.12pm (or symbolically 20:12).  London previously hosted the Games in 1908 and again in 1948.  In 1948, competitors had to bring their own food with them as rationing was still in place after the end of World War Two. The 1908 Games of the IV Olympiad should have originally taken place in Rome.  However, on April 7th 1906, Mount Vesuvius erupted and the city of Naples extensively damaged.  Money allocated by the Italian government for the upcoming Games was diverted toward rebuilding the stricken city.  A new venue was needed and London chosen. The 1908 Games took place at several locations in Britain, the main one being White City Stadium in Shepherds Bush, London. 

The Hampshire Record Office, Winchester, is hosting ‘The Olympics in Hampshire’, an exhibition: ‘..highlighting Olympians and Paralympians with Hampshire connections, venues and locations in Hampshire used for the 1908 and 1948 London Games and the Olympic torch route through Hampshire in 1948.’  The exhibition is free and runs until the 1st September. For more information, CLICK HERE.

Clarence’s number badge he wore at the 1908 London Olympics. Portsmouth City Museum.

In 1908, Portsmouth track cyclist, Clarence Brickwood Kingsbury (1882-1949) won two of Great Britain’s fifty-six gold medals.  He won the twenty kilometre bicycle and the Team Pursuit races. Clarence was a draper, confectioner and cycle maker who had begun racing aged just twelve years old, winning his first open event prize at the age of sixteen.  In 1910, he had won thirty-three first class scratch races.  He belonged to two cycling clubs, Paddington and The Portsmouth North End Cycling Club (founded in 1900).  Immediately after Clarence won his two gold medals in 1908, he had to leave London for Leipzig to attend the World Championships.  His family collected his medals for him from the royal box.

Embroidered N.C.U. (National Cyclists Union) badge worn by Clarence at the 1908 Olympics. Portsmouth City Museum.

Clarence earned himself a 1948 citation in The Golden Book of Cycling, a publication created by British magazine, Cycling.  Here is an extract from that citation:

..he [Clarence] qualified for the final [1908 Olympics] with three other Englishmen, as the tactics of foreign riders had proved puzzling.  Kingsbury liked a straight-forward race, but despite the visitors riding all over the track, sprinting one lap and crawling the next, he kept going in a determined manner with B. Jones, and the other two Englishmen having punctured.  Kingsbury raced into the lead over the last half-lap, winning by inches from Jones.

British Team cycling cap worn by Clarence at the 1908 London Olympics. Portsmouth City Museum.

I, like a large number of other people in Britain, have not been lucky enough to secure tickets for this year’s Games. I desperately wanted to see the synchronised swimming; dressage and gymnastics but will now have to be content with the television coverage. The only opportunity left for many of the non-ticket holders to witness any part of the spectacle, firsthand, has been the Torch Relay. This goes part of the way to explaining why the Relay has drawn such large crowds at each section en-route, despite some pretty dreadful weather conditions.

Historical sketch of Bugle Street, Southampton looking toward Town Quay. The sketch depicts what the Street may have looked like in the 1840s. The sketch is on display at the Museum and was located right next to the second floor window of Tudor House and Garden where I watched the Torch Relay from on 14th July 2012.

On Saturday the 14th July, day 57 of the Relay, I watched the cavalcade and torch pass through the historic Old Town of Southampton The Tudor House and Garden in Bugle Street stayed open until 6.30pm to mark the occasion.

Same view as above historic sketch. I took this image just before the crowds started to gather for the Southampton Torch Relay on the 14th.

I had a superb vantage point on the second floor of the Museum, looking-out of a tiny latticed window directly down Bugle Street toward Town Quay.

View from street level of the window where I watched the Southampton Torch Relay.

The procession passed by at 5.41pm precisely, the weather just about held-off and Bugle Street was buzzing with excitement.

Crowds gather in Bugle Street to watch the Torch Relay, 14th July 2012.

I think the Olympic Torch is an object of beauty, exquisitely designed by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby.  It stands at 80cm high and weighs 800g.  The Torchbearer was Hilary Corrick (68).  For more information on Hilary’s story, please CLICK HERE.

If you are attending the Olympics, I hope that have you a wonderful experience. Don’t forget to make the most of your time in Britain and visit some of our historic landmarks.  I wish all participating athletes, particularly those from Team GB, a great Games and high medal tally.  If Bradley Wiggins’ Tour de France win is anything to go by, it looks like he is in with a strong chance of medal success in the cycling, following in the footsteps of Clarence Kingsbury from one hundred and four years ago.