The Fanshawe Project

By Hillary Nunn

In his account of Lady Anne Fanshawe’s life, Peter Davidson describes her manuscript recipe book as “of considerable interest as a reflection of the degree to which an élite woman of the mid-seventeenth century was directly involved with the quotidian running of her household—as well as stillroom and medical recipes (which latter appear uniformly unhelpful if not actively dangerous).” Davidson’s tendency to see danger lurking in Fanshawe’s recipes mirrors the dismissive tone often used in regards to the era’s domestic medicine. Yet Davidson points out that Fanshawe’s book “also contains a representative number of Spanish recipes” and thus allows us an unusually clear view of how women of the time brought “cookery of the continent into their English households.”

Fanshawe’s recipe book shows how the kitchen hosted powerful cultural encounters, allowing culinary practices and ingredients from different counties to blend with one another within the English home. In September 1648, Lady Fanshawe and her husband Richard, a diplomat, undertook what became a series of foreign postings in Paris, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain. On her return to London in 1651, Fanshawe began compiling her manuscript household book, which contains recipes for exotic dishes like seviche (” To Escaveche Sole, Trouts, Besugo or Seabreame Sardine or Pilche”), “icy cream,” and “Dry Porke like Spanish Bacon” (293, 338-39).

Born on 25 March 1625, Lady Anne took charge of her father’s household at the age of 15, after the death of her mother. Anne’s formal education ceased at that point, and her family soon found itself enmeshed in the trials of the civil war. Her father was imprisoned, leaving the once well-off family struggling financially. She married in 1644, and eventually gave birth to twenty-four children; only three survived into adulthood. She died in January 1680 and was buried on 20 January at St Mary’s, Ware.

Fanshawe recounted her experiences in the courts of Europe in her 1676 memoir, dedicated to her one surviving son, Richard. Her recipe book, meanwhile, made its way through the family line as well. The opening pages contain a notation from Fanshawe’s daughter Katherine, who, after writing her name in the book, records that it was “Given mee by my Mother March 23th 1678.” The book bears the mark of its later owners, too, who continued to inscribe their own household recipe in its pages.

Primary Sources:

Fanshawe, Lady Anne. Mrs Fanshawes Booke of Receipts of Physickes, Salves, Waters, Cordialls, Preserves and Cookery. 1651-1707. Wellcome Library MS 7113. Web. 27 March 2014.

Fanshawe, Lady Anne. The Memoirs Lady Anne Fanshawe. London, 1907. Googlebooks. Web. 27 March 2014.

Secondary Sources:

Davidson, Peter. “Fanshaw, Ann, Lady (1625–1680).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford UP, 2004. Web. 25 June 2013.

Day, Ivan. “Lady Ann Fanshawe’s Icy Cream.” Food History Jottings. 5 April 2012. Web. 27 March 2014.

Leong, Elaine. “‘Crost by mistake’: Scribbling in early modern recipe books.” The Recipes Project. 9 November 2012. Web. 27 March 2014.

Tigner, Amy. “Chocolate in Seventeenth-century England, Part I.” The Recipes Project. 1 September 2013. Web. 27 March 2014.

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