Autumn in the kitchen

Autumn was a busy time for the cooks at Ickworth. With the shooting season beginning, Lord Bristol would invite many guests to his renowned parties. After a crisp and muddy day’s shooting out on the estate, the men would be anticipating the evening’s meal.

Downstairs, alongside tackling the washing up in the scullery, Arianna would be peeling the vegetables and once Mrs Finkle had perfected the delectable sauces, help to load up the silver trays.

Upstairs in the dining room, Thomas would serve the guests in the Rotunda, ensuring the cutlery shines like a mirror and that their port glasses sparkle in the candelabra’s light.


Autumn Cobnut Cake:

6ozs cobnuts, shelled
6ozs butter
10ozs self-raising flour
4ozs golden syrup
2 teaspoonful ground ginger
¼ pint single cream
1 medium sized fresh egg, beaten
3ozs Demerara sugar, (extra to sprinkle)
3 pieces stem ginger in syrup, drained and chopped

Preheat the oven to 325ºF/Gas 3. Grease and line a 6 or 7 inch round cake tin.
Put the shelled cobnuts on a baking sheet and put in the oven for about 30 minutes until toasted. Leave to cool slightly and then roughly chop. Put 5ozs of the nuts in a bowl with the flour, ground ginger and chopped stem ginger. Put the butter, syrup and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved.
Remove from the heat and stir in the cream, then the egg. Add to the dry ingredients and mix. Turn into the tin and level the surface. Scatter with the reserved nuts and a little
extra sugar. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until just firm to the touch and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.Take care not to over bake this cake or it will dry out. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Crab apple jelly
4kg crab apples
2kg  caster sugar
1 lemon, juiced)

Wash the apples and place in a saucepan with enough water to cover the fruit. Bring to the boil and simmer until the fruit is soft, about 30 minutes.
Pour the pulp into jelly bag or several layers of muslin and let it drip overnight into a pan.
The following day, measure the juice and add sugar in the ratio of 10 parts juice to 7 parts sugar. Add lemon juice and bring to the boil, stirring to ensure the
sugar is dissolved. Keep at a rolling boil for 40 minutes and remove froth. When the jelly is set pour into warm, sterilised preserving jars and tightly seal while still slightly warm.
Spiced parsnip and apple soup
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
8 oz parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 large Bramley apples, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 pints of hot vegetable stock
2 teaspoons of curry powder
2 tablespoons mango chutney
A teacup of double cream
Salt and pepper.
A little oil or butter.
Fresh chopped parsley.

Heat oil in a large saucepan, and cook onions until transparent. Add parsnips, onions and curry powder and cook a little. Add stock, salt and pepper, and bring to boil. Turn down to simmer until veg is soft. Add chutney, and pass through a sieve until smooth. Reheat, and
served topped with a spoon of cream and fresh chopped parsley.

Diary of a Housemaid – October




As the days are getting shorter and the warmth of the sun is starting to dull the basement of this great house is becoming intolerably cold. It is a type of cold I have never experienced before. At our little cottage in Chevington the stove manages to keep the downstairs rooms warm enough, and at night I have my siblings to cuddle up with to keep snug. Before the housekeeper presented us housemaids with lovely thick woollen jumpers earlier this week every time I breathed out it was as though I had become a dragon with the amount of mist that came out. The other servants did warn me about the cold, it is true, but in the dusk of the summer it was hard to believe them.

I have been at Ickworth for several months now. Time has flown by so quickly. I remember the day I first arrived. It was terrifying! Compared to my neat little life in Chevington the confusing warren of stone corridors in the grand house were overwhelming. What if I could not remember my duties? What if I could not remember the names of the other servants? What if I got lost, and, most horrifying of all, what if I met His Lordship or Her Ladyship when I was cleaning the upstairs rooms? All these worries proved to be unnecessary as I soon fell into place as a cog in the clock-work of Ickworth life below stairs.

art deco divider