Temple Newsam: From the Kitchen to the Archive

What can recipes and receipts tell us about life in a 17th – 18th century Yorkshire Country House?

The Temple Newsam archive includes a vast collection of recipes and receipts which provide us with a wealth of information about the cultural norms of 17th – 18th century Yorkshire. Temple Newsam was purchased by Sir Arthur Ingram in 1622 for £12,000 (which in 2017 would be about £1,578,240.00). He was an MP in the House of Commons and his purchase of Temple Newsam made him one of the greatest landowners in Yorkshire.

Recipe collections from this time often include a mix of culinary instructions and medicinal advice. Temple Newsam’s collection varies from guidelines on how to take Palsy Drops, to a recipe for how to make gingerbread. Palsy was a term used for paralysis, or weakness, in various parts of the body. The palsy drops instructions directed the sufferer to take 10 drops every night in a glass of wine at bedtime, gradually increasing the amount until a spoonful is being taken every night. There is no mention of what the palsy drops contain so we can’t know how affective the medicine was by today’s standards. While the recipe for gingerbread simply lists the ingredients (flour, treacle, sugar, butter and brandy) and the quantity needed, giving no further instructions. This implies prior knowledge of how to assemble the ingredients.

Recipes and receipts are an important part of family and estate collections, allowing us into the domestic sphere where we can see what families were purchasing to eat and treat their ailments. If you are interested in viewing more of the Temple Newsam (WYL100) collection please talk to a member of the Leeds archive team or email us at leeds@wyjs.org.uk

Did you know?
Temple Newsam holds the earliest known reference to tea in England. The receipt below shows ‘china drink’ being purchased for the house in 1642, 18 years before Samuel Pepys, the famous diarist, tried it and wrote ‘I did send for a cup of tee (a china drink) of which I never drank before’.

Click on the images below to see a description of each item and find out more about these fantastic archives.