Thursday, 30 April 2015

Fish & Ships: May History Makers

Thanks to everyone who came to last month’s History Makers and we hope you all enjoyed painting great seals and building your own new town.
Having learnt all about the beginnings of our city last month, this time round we celebrate what made Hull such a successful and vibrant place for centuries – fishing and the River Humber.

Hull’s special position between two rivers made it a perfect place for a developing fishing industry. Over the years fishing expanded to become a huge trade and formed the basis of the local economy for centuries. 

If Lego is your thing we need help us build bridges, lighthouses, trawlers and docks to recreate the glory days of Hull’s time as a busy fishing port!
Don’t worry if crafting is your passion – we also need help to create a huge underwater world with lots of colourful origami and stained glass fish!

Not much of a gap between the April session and our May event on Saturday so we are already getting excited! 
Join us on 2nd May at the usual time 9.30-12.30 for the latest Lego and crafting fun.
We might even have a surprise competition for you with a great prize courtesy of our friends at The Deep… but you’ll have to come along to find out more!

‘History Makers’ Team

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Gastronomy with Francis Johnson…

Amongst all the anecdotes I’ve been told about Francis Johnson, by far the most common has been that he loved a good lunch. I’ve often come across enthusiastic letters from him to a client thanking them for providing a wonderful lunch during one of his visits. On occasion I have also found him to express disappointment at what he felt to be a poor meal, never to the person In question, but quietly and always politely to his friends.

Now you might have seen that we’ve started up the History Centre cookery club again under the name ‘History Bakers’? Basically, those of us with an interest in baking are taking it in turns to transform a recipe taken from our collections into an edible treat for the rest of the staff. I like to think that Francis Johnson would have approved of our efforts in this arena. And perhaps we have evidence that he would…

On Friday last, I came into the office to find a recipe book on my desk compiled by Robin Dermond Horspool and published in 2001. The book reproduces an edited version of the housekeeping book of Almary Graeme of Sewerby Hall, Bridlington, 1756-1812. Amongst the more usual recipes of plum cake, almond pudding, beef stew and black pudding, there are also recipes for pickled salmon, syrup of violets and calves head pie.

Recipe book from History Centre Local Studies collection [L641.5]

Thinking that someone had left it for me to select my next recipe for ‘History Bakers’, I sat down to have a proper read and was surprised to see a lovely dedication to Francis Johnson. Reading on, the acknowledgments showed that the author and Francis Johnson had been friends who shared an interest in both Sewerby Hall and Almary Graeme. The author recalls fond memories of the two friends sitting at the dining table used by Almary with the sound of her case clock in the background counting away the hours they spent discussing various subjects.

Dedication of the book in memory of Francis Johnson
Some of you might know, others might be interested to learn that he did a lot of work on the refurbishment of Sewerby Hall and the bowls pavilion during the 1970s and 1980s. He was also responsible for arranging the purchase at auction of three paintings to be hung in the newly refurbished hall in the late 1970s. For this reason, he had privileged access to Sewerby Hall and it was presumably during this period that he and Horspool had their long discussions. 
Francis Johnson’s expertise and skill as a classical architect were highly valued by East Riding Borough Council who engaged him on many works relating to Sewerby Hall. They also commissioned him to undertake surveys of various other of their properties and, at the council’s request, he worked on the Town Hall in Bridlington and the Old Lighthouse at Flamborough.

Sewerby Hall, Sewerby, Bridlington

So, as a personal tribute, I dedicate this month’s ‘History Bakers’ to Francis Johnson. It probably isn’t up to his exacting standards but I like to think he would have given us points for trying.

Claire Weatherall, 
Project Archivist

Links: ‘History Bakers’ webpage and ‘History Bakers’ blog on Prince Albert’s Pudding

Friday, 17 April 2015

History Bakers: Prince Albert's Pudding

This History Bakers treat comes from a recipe book found in the Hotham Estate collection here at the History Centre [U DDHO/19/8]. The book is dated 1860 but some of the recipes, like this one, have earlier origins: 

Prince Albert’s Pudding
½ lb of butter beat to a cream
½ lb of sugar sifted fine.
5 eggs    ½ lb of flour.
Cinnamon & mace pounded
½ lb Raisins stoned & chopped fine
The mould to be well buttered & stewed with candid orange & lemon peel
Boil the Pudding 3 hours & a half & serve it up with punch or wine sauce 

The recipe is thought originally to be by Eliza Acton and first appeared in ‘Modern Cookery for Private Families’ compiled 1845. It’s not to be confused with another Prince Albert inspired recipe for Plum Pudding, which also appeared in Eliza Acton’s recipe book, but under the heading of ‘Christmas Pudding’.

As you can see, there isn’t much by way of method so I improvised using the ‘measure it out and chuck it all in a mixing bowl’ approach. There was no measurement for the cinnamon and mace so I ‘guestimated’ half a teaspoon of cinnamon and a teaspoon of mace. Not being able to find mace whilst buying the ingredients I had to substitute it for ground mixed which I already had in my cupboard.  


Once the ingredients were mixed, I buttered the pudding basins (I divided the mixture in two as I only had small basins) and layered the bottom with candied peel. Next I added the mixture and then came the actual cooking process. 

And it is here that it might have gone a bit wrong. After three and a half hours of steaming the puddings on an electric hob they still hadn’t cooked through. I decided to finish them in the microwave (not historically accurate I know but it was late and I wanted to sleep) and unfortunately might have overcooked them as they came out quite dry... 

Here’s what people thought…
‘Looks pretty, orangey flavour, slightly dry’
‘Lovely flavour but maybe slightly dry’
‘Fruity and lovely with a dash of cream’
‘Very fruity, a bit like a fruit cake but drier’
‘Lovely fruity taste’
‘Right fruity but a bit dry’

So we can recommend that the flavours of the recipe are good but you might want to improve on my poor cooking technique. If you have a go please let us know what you think and whether it turned out all right for you!

Claire Weatherall, 
Project Archivist

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Hull Day

After the animal antics of last month’s History Makers, this month we have seal related fun of a different kind…

On 1 April 1299 King Edward I granted the people of Hull a charter to guarantee the rights of the citizens of the city. (You can find out more about the 1299 Charter on the History Centre website).

Here at the History Centre we keep that charter safe so that we remember the rights granted to the city over 700 years ago. 

Join us on Saturday 18th April 2015 as we discover more about the origins of our city and learn about seals and why Kings and Queens used them.

Seals in production - they take hours to dry which is why we've had to make them in advance!
We will be making our own charters to establish our own cities and guarantee the rights if its citizens. We will also be painting plaster models of real seals stored here at the History Centre. You can even design your own seal.

If it’s Lego fun you want, we will be creating our own seal designs and fighting kings for the rights we deserve as we build our own medieval Hull-scapes.

An added bonus this month…we will be introducing Henry Lego, our new History Makers comic strip where you get to decide the ending…

The fun starts at 9.30am and the event runs until 12.30pm so don’t miss out!

‘History Makers’ Team

Thursday, 9 April 2015

History Bakers: Bury Simnel Cake

This month’s recipe comes from Ada Hartley’s Recipe Book (C DIMH/1/3) and as it is Easter time and the start of spring I looked for a recipe that was appropriate for this time of the year. The only one I could find was for Bury Simnel Cake and it intrigued me as there were only a small number of ingredients listed and no instructions as to how to cook it.  I managed to put the instructions together by looking on the internet and at similar recipes, in the hope that they would work.

Simnel cakes have been known since at least medieval times, and different towns had their own recipes and shapes. I discovered that Bury, Shrewsbury and Devizes are the most well known of the different variations.

The Bury Simnel Cake is a Lancashire variation on the traditional Simnel cake typically eaten at Easter. They originate in the town of Bury and like most Lancashire specialities they are more biscuits than cakes.

The ingredients are: 
280g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp mixed spice
120g butter, diced
1 tbsp candied peel, chopped
4 tbsp currants
4 tbsp sultanas
4 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp blanched almonds, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten

1. Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and mixed spice into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mix resembles fine breadcrumbs.

2. Add the fruit and brown sugar and mix to combine. Add the eggs and mix to a stiff dough. If the mixture is a little too dry add a little milk.

3. Turn the dough onto a lightly-floured work surface and roll out to about 12mm thick. Cut into round cakes and sprinkle with the almonds.

4. Transfer to a greased baking tray then place in an oven pre-heated to 180°C, 170° fan assisted oven, gas mark 4, and bake for about 15 minutes, or until cooked through and golden.

Staff comments:

Claire             Yummy taste of Easter!
Elaine            A very nice substantial biscuit – can taste the spices
Martin             Fruity and delicious!
Elspeth          Very light and lovely crunch. I loved them!
Verity              Lovely and soft. Great biscuits!
Carol              Lovely and light – could eat the lot!

Christine Brown
Preservation and Conservation Manager

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Today is the 716th birthday of Kingston upon Hull

On 1 April 1299 King Edward I, notorious as the conqueror of Wales and the Hammer of the Scots, issued a charter creating a new Borough at the confluence of the River Hull and the Humber estuary. The people living here gained a measure of the self-government, and a new name for their community: Kingston upon Hull.

ville nostre de Kyngeston super Hull - "our town of Kingston upon Hull

Of course, there was a settlement here before the charter: Wyke upon
Hull. Wyke had belonged to Meaux Abbey, from which Edward bought it in 1293. Edward was most interested in exacting tolls and taxes on the goods transhipped here, and it was more convenient to do that if the settlement was his own property rather than the monks’. 

In 1299, perhaps as the port prospered, Wyke became a Borough, and its merchants could trade more freely throughout Edward’s expanding kingdom. So 1 April 1299 was a new start for Kingston upon Hull

1 April 2015 is a new start, in a way, for Hull History Centre. From 1 April, Hull City Council’s culture and leisure facilities will be run by Hull Culture and Leisure Ltd. This is a wholly owned not-for-profit company, which has been set up to deliver and improve museums, theatres and halls, leisure centres, parks – and our own service.

However, just as the people of the newly-minted Borough of Kingston upon Hull wouldn’t have noticed any changes on 2 April 1299, so our users won’t notice any changes to the way we operate on 2 April this year. Our partnership with the University is unaffected; our opening hours remain the same; and our staff will continue to be helpful, knowledgeable and welcoming.

And just as the period after 1299 saw the medieval borough with its new name provide the foundations for Hull to develop into England’s second biggest port, so we hope that the new company will provide the framework for us to continually improve our services here.

Martin Taylor
City Archivist