Arley Hall & Gardens

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Elizabeth Raffald

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RECIPES written by the 18th century’s domestic goddess are to be recreated at the country home where she learnt her trade.

Visitors to Arley Hall and Gardens in Cheshire will be able to sample the culinary delights of Elizabeth Raffald – the Delia Smith of her time – in Arley’s Tudor Barn Restaurant this summer.

Steve Hamilton, General Manager at Arley, said the estate near Knutsford was determined to pay tribute to the author of The Experienced English Housekeeper, which was one of the first cookbooks and a big hit when it was published in the 1700s.

“Elizabeth Raffald is a huge character in Arley’s history and it is only right that we mark her contribution to the estate’s past,” he said.

“There are a few recipes that we will steer clear of – such as those for turtle and calf’s foot pudding – but there are definitely some traditional meals that visitors are going to love.” Raffald was the housekeeper at Arley Hall for several years in the 1760s where she served Lady Elizabeth Warburton, to whom the book is dedicated.

It is believed The Experienced English Housekeeper went through 13 authorised editions and at least 23 pirated ones. In 1773, she sold the copyright to her publisher for £1,400 – about £200,000 today. It contains 800 original recipes and is split into three parts – the first being dedicated to browning, soups, fish, plain meat, game, pies and puddings.

The second covers confectionary and includes ‘directions to set out a table in the most elegant manner and in the modern taste.’ She goes on to explain the finer details of pickling, potting and distilling in the final section. Raffald makes it clear to readers that her recipes are written ‘purely from practice’ and in plain English ‘so as to be understood by the weakest capacity’.

In a note to Lady Elizabeth Warburton she said: “I am not vain enough to propose adding anything to the experienced housekeeper, but hope these recipes may be of use to young persons who are willing to improve themselves.” After marrying Arley’s head gardener, Raffald moved to Manchester where, over the next 18 years, she reportedly ran two pubs, two coffee shops, an indoor and outdoor catering business and an agency supplying domestic staff.

The Tudor Barn Restaurant will now be dedicated to her memory with recipes on the menu and history boards detailing her links to the estate. Raffald’s old food lists and receipts are also available on a new website www.arleyhallarchives.co.uk.

A letter from Elizabeth Raffald to Lady Elizabeth Warburton

An Historical Painting of the Herbaceous Border at Arley Hall and Gardens

A Shopping List from the Arley Estate dated 1762