This week's podcast with food historian Sara Pennell discusses attitudes to food in early modern England – from the types of food being eaten, to what a 17th-century dinner party might have looked like. The following recipes and remedies, taken from recipe books held by the Wellcome Library, are just a handful of some of the foods and medicines being consumed during the period...


A recipe for sugar cakes

From the recipe book of Lady Ann Fanshawe, the wife of Charles II’s ambassador to Portugal and Madrid, compiled 1651-1707 (Wellcome Library MS.7113, p.286)

To make Sugar Cakes

More like this

Take 2 pound of Butter, one pound of fine Sugar, the yolkes of nine
Egs, a full Spoonfull of Mace beat & searsed [sifted], as much Flower as this
will well wett making them so stiffe as you may rowle it out, then
with the Cup of a glasse of what Size you please cutt them into
round Cakes & pricke them and bake them.

A recipe for 'icy cream'

From the recipe book of Lady Ann Fanshawe, the wife of Charles II’s ambassador to Portugal and Madrid, compiled 1651-1707 (Wellcome Library MS.7113, p.339)

To make Icy Cream

Take three pints of the best cream, boyle it with
a blade of Mace, or else perfume it with orang flower water
or Amber-Greece, sweeten the Cream, with sugar let it stand
till it is quite cold, then put it into Boxes, ether of Silver
or tinn then take, Ice chopped into small peeces and
putt it into a tub and set the Boxes in the Ice couering
them all over, and let them stand in the Ice two
hours, and the Cream Will come to be Ice in the Boxes,
then turne them out into a salvar with some of the same
Seasoned Cream, so sarue it up at the Table.

A recipe to cook a pike

From the recipe book of Madam Bridget Hyde, compiled 1676-1690 (Wellcome Library MS.2990, p.140)

To dress a pike

First Scour him clean with a little salt, take out his
Intralls, then cut him in pieces as you think fit: strow
upon him good store of salt; then pour upon him
good store of vinegar boiling in which let him lye
h[alf] an hour, in the mean time let one set on a kettle
with white wine and put in some hearbs and an onion or
2 with a nutmeg quarterd and a little mace and a slice of
ginger and salt and when the fish is boiled take a little of the
liquor and dissolve in it Anchovies, then lay in the dish some
sippets* and pour some of the liquor upon him out of the kettle
then take of that liquor 3 or 4 spoonfull, in which the Anchovies
were dissolved and with it beat some thick butter and pour
it on the fish, and if there be not good claret to drink with it
all this labours lost.

* small pieces of bread

A 'soothing remedy for piles'

From a recipe book belonging to Anne Bromwich, Rhoda Hussey (later Fairfax) and Ursula Fairfax, c1625-1700 (MS.160, p.51)

A Medicine ffor the piles in the ffundament being red soare akinge bleedinge especially when they goe to the stoole and that with greate paine

Take Chicken weede, mallowes, the herbe mercury, otherwise called benne[t],
of each toe or three handfulls boyle all these together in a gallon of runinge
water untill halfe be boyled away, then take a basin full thereof
and sett it in a close stoole and lett the patient sitt over it and receive the
steame thereof into his fundament, bathing the place therewithall
a Quarter of an houre or soe Long as hee can endure it then
lett him take a good handfull of the herbes and bind it to his fundament
and soe keepe it there all the day and lett him use this morninge
and Eveninge


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