Monks to publish early curry recipe
An early recipe book, from 1793, was discovered by an archivist working in Downside Abbey Library last year; it is now to be published by popular demand.
- The monks of Downside Abbey have commissioned the release of the book, Downside Abbey Presents: Bristol Georgian Cookbook, which chronicles day-to-day life at Begbrook House, an historic home near Bristol. The book includes recipes as diverse as Calves Head Turtle Fashion, Chicken Curry and Fricassee of Pigs Feet and Ears; there is also a controversial recipe for the historic Sally Lunn bun.
- The collection of recipes provides an insight into the Slave ‘trade triangle’ that passed through the Bristol port at the time, and led to the use of sugar and spices within the region. Another area of interest is that of the role of literacy, given that the book is likely to have been written by literate women, a rarity in the years around 1793.
- The book was donated, as part of a private collection from the Parsons family, to Downside Abbey in 1887. The family had originally acquired the recipe book when they took ownership of Begbrook House during the early 19th century, however, the house was burnt by suffragettes in 1913. The family later moved, with the recipe book, to Little Malvern, and would have been resident in the parish at the same time as Edward Elgar…whether he tried the infamous curry is yet unknown!
- Volunteers have been working in Downside Abbey Library as part of a 3 year project to establish public access to the collections, formerly for the private use of the Benedictine monks. The discovery is one of many unusual items uncovered in a drive to digitise and organise the catalogue.
- The book will be released on Wednesday 5th April, and pre-orders can be booked here and at the Downside Abbey Visitor Centre.
- Treasures within the Library include Cardinal John Henry Newman’s personal copy of the Bible, early Bibles printed in English, and beautifully illustrated 14th-century Book of Hours and other medieval manuscripts, rare theological texts, and unusual donated collections. These include books on sundials, birds, archaeology and local history, along with the archives of the English Benedictine Congregation dating back to the 17th century.
- “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.” Dr Simon Johnson, Keeper of Downside Abbey Archives and Library
- Members of the public can access the collections by appointment: www.downside.co.uk | firstname.lastname@example.org | 01761 235323
- Click here to view the press release pdf. For enquiries, please contact Claire Wass | email@example.com | 01761 235151
Downside Abbey presents Bristol Georgian Cookbook, pre-orders available now.
Dom Christopher Calascione prepares the controversial Sally Lunn bun for a BBC taste-test!
Downside Abbey Library, the private collection of the monks of Downside, is now available for research and reprographics.