Read on to find out what Sally discovered in the family archives
Who lives in a house like this?
Did you ever notice the small door in the courtyard adjacent to the education barn? It is the pop hole to the chicken coop, which would have housed the estate’s hens. The family would have had a fresh supply of eggs throughout the spring and summer months, and would also have preserved some for the winter.
As Lady Bond wrote to Mr Bond in 1932, ‘I would be glad if there were more poultry and want lots of eggs preserved in Water-glass* like old Parker did them […] This is most important […] We use a tremendous lot of preserved eggs and it’s a great saving to have them done at home.’
Eggs were not the only way in which The Argory was self-sufficient. As you head down the exit drive on the left hand side you can glimpse the walled garden which in the estate’s heyday would have produced all of the vegetables for the kitchens. Sir Walter’s Italian valet, Secondo, claimed that “the vegetables at The Argory enable[d] Cook to make excellent minestrone.”
Similarly, on Good Friday 1932 Sir Walter wrote ‘the land is let – they will be setting potatoes and cutting turf and rushes.’ Indeed, when James Mitchell was appointed as Gardener Steward on 23 September 1923, the job came with an allotment of turf and wood from the estate, as well as vegetables from the garden and ‘one and a half pints of milk daily.’
In addition to all this the family kept a wine cellar, which sounds extravagant, but they also owned a contraption for recorking bottles - presumably to preserve any left over at dinner. Also in the house are a cellar book and numerous receipts which reflect the family’s preferences for particular beverages. For example, on 16 July 1930 Sir Walter ordered one dozen bottles of port from Bailey & Co Wine Merchants, London for a total of 3 pounds and 12 shillings, while two years later Mr Bond purchased two dozen flagons (a flagon was about two pints) of cider from H.P. Bulmer & Co.
If all of this talk of food has got your taste buds tingling, our Good Food Market takes place on Saturday 14 April. Why not pop in and meet some local producers?
*Water-glass was a solution of sodium silicate in which the eggs would have been submerged. It sealed the pores of the egg shells preventing bacteria from getting into them, while at the same time stopping the evaporation of water from within. This allowed the eggs to be stored for several months, enabling you to have eggs all year round.