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The Branscombe Project

An Old Recipe Book from Branscombe

A handwritten recipe book from the late 1700s and early 1800s has come down in the Tucker family of Branscombe. Perry and Carole Tucker kindly lent it to the Project to display in an exhibition in the village in 2016, and have given permission for the recipes to be displayed on the Project website. The pages were photographed and prepared for the website by Joan Doern and Sue Dymond.

The book, which was rebound in leather about 1900, has 270 recipes for food and home remedies. They were entered by four people, probably women, with differing handwriting. The largest number of recipes were from the first author, who also provided an index at the beginning. (But, as can be seen, the second author wrote a remedy for asthma inside the front cover.)

These women were probably members of the Ford family, ancestors of the Tuckers. The Fords were substantial farmers in Branscombe who developed a prosperous lime business. This enabled Henry Ford, in 1868, to buy out the historic landlords, the Dean and Chapter of Exeter cathedral, and become the village’s squire and principal landowner.  If the book was not written by women of the Ford family, it must have come from a similar local middle-class farming background, because the recipes assume farm produce and contain Devonian features, such as ‘milk from the red cow’.

A  booklet, entitled Take 300 Snails . . . An Old Recipe Book from Branscombe,  by John Torrance, is available from the  Branscombe Project, price £3.50 excluding p&p. It discusses the origin and context of the book and the identity of its authors, the types of food, cooking methods, kitchen equipment and household meals and entertainments suggested by the recipes; also the variety and sourcing of herbal and other ingredients for home remedies, the range of conditions they treated, from indigestion to plague, and their likely efficacy.

For a taster, look at the recipe for Cold Snail Water on page 96!

Read all the recipes here