Somerset

Somerset monks find 1793 recipe book

A composite image of the recipe book and Begbrook House in Frenchay Image copyright Frenchay Village Museum
Image caption The recipe book once belonged to the cooks at Begbrook House near Bristol (pictured right)

Dozens of recipes dating back to 1793 have been discovered at a monks' library in Somerset.

Pigeon stew and turtle soup are among the handwritten notes compiled in the kitchen at Begbrook House near Bristol.

According to local history records, the house in Frenchay was burnt down in 1913 by suffragettes.

The recipe book was found by Downside Abbey staff while exploring a private collection acquired by the monastery.

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Media captionHistoric bun recipe tried out
Image caption There are 142 hand-written recipes in the book

Dom Christopher Calascione, one of the monks who lives at Downside, said: "As the monastery has been in existence for nearly 500 years we have picked up a lot of archives - ancient papers and books - and among them this recipe book appeared."

He recreated one of the book's recipes for a version of the Sally Lunn bread bun, including patting "the tops over with a feather dipt into the yolk of an egg".

The book also features a chicken curry recipe, written 46 years after the first curry recipe in English was published by Hannah Glasse in 1747.

From the cooks at Begbrook House

142

handwritten recipes, including:

  • Pg 70 Fricassee of Pigs Feet and Ears

  • Pg 98 Chicken Curry

  • Pg 119 Cabob to eat with Cucharee

  • Pg 136 Turtle Soup (Mrs Broderik)

The monastic library was opened to the public last year after a major refurbishment.

Dr Simon Johnson, keeper of the Abbey's archives and library, said: "First and foremost we are a Monastic library and our specialisms are in history, theology and philosophy.

"But yes we do have unusual material such as cookbooks which are just as useful to a monk's education as Thomas Aquinas."

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