From a Manor Kitchen

My great-aunt Emily Lovelace, “Auntie Nimmo” (1875--1967), cooked for wealthy families in Dorset, England, including the Colfoxes (the uppermost local gentry) at their Delapre estate in Bridprot. Her manuscript cook book, in various hands, shows recipes Emily used regularly, and gathered from other cooks: a wonderful procession of cakes, chutneys, jams, fancy desserts, and full menus “for the partees.” After her marriage, aged 36, to Harry Parsons, an ex-Royal Navy artificer, the couple served at the Gentlemen’s Club in Bridport where Harry was steward and Emily cooked. As a little boy I knew her as the only lively one among her ailing sisters whom she took care of in later life. I recall her caraway seed cake, a taste which I have always loathed. Recently I attempted one of her recipes for marmalade, attributed to one Aunt Martha. It required much soaking and boiling, and unusually called for a proportion of sweet oranges along with the Sevilles. It made marmalade that to my taste was too sweet, even insipid, but of a gorgeous bright orange colour. It was unlike the dark and cloudy Oxford style that I usually make but I’m sure it looked just the thing on a silver salver.

  • 1. Emily Parsons with her young great-nephew

  • 2. Emily’s manuscript cook book

  • 3. Pages from Emily’s manuscript cook book

  • 4. Menu for a 1903 supper

  • 5. "For the Partees,” Jan. 2nd-4th, 1903

  • 6. Recipe for Game Pie

  • 7. The wet and dry ingredients are mixed together by hand until they are well combined. In this photo my father is reminding my mother of how much I used to enjoy eating the unbaked dough as a child. I still do.

  • 8. Recipes for Tomato Chutney and Furniture Polish

  • 9. Martin with bottled marmalade

  • 10. Oxford-style and Emily’s more jelly-like marmalade