A taste of Townend

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The year is 1699. A smoky rush light gives a dim glow at the parlour table where Elizabeth Birkett sits holding a pen as she has each night for the past month. She works diligently filling each page in her commonplace book with recipes in a small but distinctive hand.

Elizabeth went on to marry Ben Browne of Townend in 1702, and came to live at the house. By the time it was complete, her commonplace book contained 57 numbered pages with over 80 cookery and medicinal recipes and 25 household ones. The story it tells us about life at the time is one of sophisticated tastes against a backdrop of rural tradition and superstition.

Elizabeth’s book is going to be on display at Townend for the first time this year. We are creating many of her dishes for display and will also be cooking every Thursday during the open season.

You can read a transcript of her book, or recreate one of her delicious confectionary recipes at home by following the links to the right.