Manuscripts and Special Collections

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Running a Household

Recipe books, bills, and domestic accounts are found in many collections of family archives. They show how households functioned in the days before supermarkets and modern labour-saving gadgets.

Elenor Mundy's recipe book, dated 1728, is handsomely illustrated with the picture of a beehive, often a symbol for industry. Some of the contents are attributed to neighbouring ladies from the Derbyshire-Nottinghamshire area. A number show knowledge of foreign tastes and ingredients, such as "Coree. An Indian dish", and "Le Beuf Royall. From Paris'.

As was usual, Mrs Mundy included prescriptions for cordials and even offered recipes for beauty products, such as a water for freckles.

A bill submitted by James Watkins to Mrs Marriott, a century later, concerned the provisioning of the family kitchen. It lists the vegetables which were bought and planted. The work earned Watkins a mere 3 for 30 days of labour. A difficulty in securing prompt payment is indicated by the note that 9.9s.6d is carried over from 1812.

Mrs Marriott's account book for July 1804 records some of her "house expenses". Other pages show that these were incurred in the course of journeys made across the country, from Lyme to Worcester and back.

Further sources relating to this subject area are held by Manuscripts and Special Collections at King's Meadow Campus. See our website for information about our collections and catalogues.

Elenor Mundy's recipe book Zoom in

Elenor Mundy's recipe book

Bill for garden expenses Zoom in

Bill for garden expenses

Household account book 1804 Zoom in

Household account book 1804

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