As a volunteer I often get asked the question how the Town House’s basement managed to stay untouched for so long. An Elderly Lady Living in Squalor I tell people who asked the true story of an elderly lady living in squalor. It’s also a […]
Month: April 2018
Devoted to Hannah I have been devoted to Hannah Glasse. She’s helped me through all the fundraising events Dine Like A Servant and Lunch with the Curator at the Regency Town House. I owe her a great deal. But this week I decided I had […]
It’s another way to experience The Regency Town House. It’s a tour with a lunch. Not just any tour, it’s a tour of the Upstairs and Downstairs life in an 1830s house. Not just any lunch, it’s a lunch held in the basement kitchen of the Town House, with dishes based on authentic recipes of the time.
What is the Regency Town House project?
The Regency Town House project started in 1984 and it is a labour of love for the curator, Nick Tyson. Together with Phil Blume they are the only two paid members of staff. Everyone else on the project gives their time for free. Upstairs there are teams of researchers busy with the project My House My Street. This is a project which enables people to search multiple historical records about one address, online with one website. With them, working in the old bedrooms which are now the offices, are students on placements from the UK and abroad. Downstairs there are teams of volunteers busy with painting & decorating, construction, cooking, sewing and event management. The Town House is a hive of working volunteers who join in with the project due to their love of history and the community that goes with the Town House.
The tour is given by curator Nick Tyson. He has given tours since the beginning and is a remarkable source of knowledge about every aspect of the house. He gives instruction on how the house was built, how Brighton and Hove developed and the sort of people that lived there. He is knowledgeable about both the upstairs gentry and the downstairs servants. Often visitors enjoy the stories about the servants, in the downstairs offices, the best.
The Basement Annexe
The basement annexe is the highlight of the tour. Pat Nixon lived there from the 1920s to the late 1990s, that is when the Trust bought the basement. She was an elderly woman when Nick, still a young man, came and did her shopping for her. He saw the beauty of the basement she was living in. She couldn’t see it herself. She was, in fact, living in a time capsule. The basement hadn’t been modernised like much of the basement in the Square. It retains its meat safe, the flagstone floor, the rooms are in the original positions and even the well in the courtyard still has water in it.
The lunch, after the tour, gives house visitors a chance to put questions to Nick directly but also to speak to each other. The food menu is created by volunteer Paul Couchman who is beginning his own food business, giving cooking courses and catering for the many artists’ openings that take place in the Town House. The menu is based on historic recipes, all of the food that he creates would have been made in the very kitchen the visitors are eating in. The menu consists of two courses.
A sample menu.
Chicken or artichoke pie with leek, mace and white sauce (Hannah Glasse’s recipe)
Pickled fennel, pickled grapes and piccalilli.
Garden things (cabbage and carrots)
Braised Pippin (a small apple cooked in the oven)
A lemon syllabub
There is a restoration project in Hove, UK where guests are invited to a fundraising dinner where they will Dine Like Servants. In February 2018 we were even featured in the local newspaper, the Argus. It’s at the Regency Town House in Brunswick Square, Hove. […]
Imagine a pastry case filled with almond and lemon custard, topped with meringue. That’s what these delicious tarts are. They were made famous by the first celebrity chef Antonin Carême, who, cooked for the royalty of Europe in the early nineteenth century. He even cooked […]
The first thing visitor notice, as they enter the housekeeper’s room at 10 Brunswick Square are the cupboards. Cupboards everywhere and all of them have locks. Locked away in the housekeeper’s room were many things that servants could steal and sell. Porcelain, the finest table napkins, china and candles. And there were pickles. Hannah Glasse, the eighteenth-century cook I often turn to, had these wise words to say about pickles.
“Always use stone-jars for all sorts of pickles that require hot pickle to them. The first charge is the least; for these not only last longer , but keep the pickle better: for vinegar and salt will penetrate through all earthen vessels; stone and glass are the only things to keep pickle in. Be sure never to put your hands in to take pickles out, it will spoil it. The best method is, to every pot tie a wooden spoon, full of little holes, to take the pickles out with.”
I went for glass, stone jars are the next thing to find for the kitchen. I decided also to go for pickled grapes and pickled fennel. There would also be pickled cucumber. Cucumber with onion and ginger. The recipes appear almost modern.
400g black grapes
400g granulated sugar
350ml riesling white wine
I was unsure about the fennel. But I knew that it would be one of many pickles on a plate, so I thought I could get away with it. I also adore fennel, I love the taste. In the recipe there are also fennel seeds and pepper.
The guests for Lunch with the Curator loved it. I will cook the fennel slightly longer this time and I have added additional spices, more pepper. The recipe will follow below. Please adapt it as you will. Hannah Glasse, at the end of many a recipe has these last words of wisdom.
“but that you may do as you like”
Are you fascinated by food and history? But the combination is so quirky. Where can you do both? It’s fun practising at home, by yourself, but you want to try out recipes with other people. You want the challenge of cooking for a large group […]