Monday, 18 June 2012
Monday, 11 June 2012
In her book The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, Hannah Glasse details how to make a curry dish:
To make India pickle. TO a gallon of vinegar one pound of garlick, and three quarters of a pound of long pepper, a pint of mustard seed, one pound of ginger, and two ounces of tumerick; the garlick must be laid in salt three days, then wip'd clean and dry'd in the sun; the long pepper broke, and the mustard seed bruised; mix all together in the vinegar, then take two large hard cabbages, and two cauliflowers, cut them in quarters, and salt them well; let them lie three days, and dry them in the sun. N.B. The ginger must lie twenty four hours in salt and water, then cut small and laid in salt three days.
There is also a way to make paco lilla, or Indian pickle, the same the mangos come over in.
There is a dish for Indian boiled fowl:
To make a pellow the Indian way. TAKE three pounds of rice, pick and wash it very clean, put into a cullender, and let it drain very dry; take three quarters of a pound of butter, and put it into a pan over a slow fire till it melts, then put in the rice and cover it over very close, that it may keep the stream in; add to it a little salt, some whole pepper, half a dozen blades of mace, and a few cloves. You must put it in a little water to keep it from burning, then stir it up very often, and let it stew till the rice is soft. Boil two fowls, and a fine piece of bacon or about two pounds weight as common, cut the bacon in two pieces, lay it in the dish with the fowls, cover it over with the rice, and garnish it with about half a dozen hard eggs and a dozen of onions whole fried and very brown. NOTE, This is the true Indian way of dressing them.
Two other dishes seem to have found their way across the oceans to England.
Firstly khichri, a rice and bean or rice and lentil dish, which seems to have been adapted by Scottish colonists by the adding of smoked haddock which later became kedgeree, a staple of Victorian breakfast tables.
Secondly a pepper broth called milagu tanni, which in the West had tumeric and meat added to become mulligatawny.
For the brief time of its existence (1809-19), Watier's at 81 Piccadilly burned brightly on the London club scene. The Prince Regent suggested the creation of a club using his French chef, Jean-Baptiste Watier – and after whom the club was named. Prinny also proposed his erstwhile friend Beau Brummell as president. According to one of the members, there is no doubt that the Beau reigned supreme: "Laying down the law in dress, in manners, and in those magnificent snuff boxes, for which there was a rage; he formented the excesses, ridiculed the scruples, patronised the novices, and exercised paramount dominion over all."
While the food was declared to be the best in London, it was the card tables which attracted the most attention. Many fortunes were lost to a "bank" that had been set up by a group of members. It was Lord Byron who coined the term "The Dandy Club" when he remarked that: "I like the dandies, they were always very civil to me."
There is no plaque marking the site and 81 Piccadilly, on the corner with Bond Street, has been substantially re-modelled. Nearest tubes Green Park or Piccadilly Circus.
Sunday, 10 June 2012
In 1777 in the town of Clonmel, County Tipperary a code of practice was drawn up for the regulation of duels. The Code Duello, known generally as "The twenty-six commandments", was to be kept in a gentleman's pistol case for reference should a dispute arise regarding procedure. The authorities were generally opposed to duelling but were rarely active in suppressing it, and turned a blind eye to injuries and deaths caused on the field of honour. While the reasons for the disappearance of the duel are many, they include the emergence of a new middle class in the Victorian era which was hostile to the "honour" culture, which was seen as un-Christian.
Four British Prime Ministers engaged in duels: the Earl of Shelburne (1780), William Pitt the Younger (1798), George Canning (1809) and the Duke of Wellington (1829).
Thomas Lord was born in Thirsk, Yorkshire on 23rd November 1755 in what is now the town museum, but the family later moved to Diss in Norfolk where Thomas was brought up. As a young man, Lord moved to London and got a job as a bowler and general attendant at the White Conduit Club in Islington. In 1786 Lord was approached by the Earl of Winchilsea, and the Duke of Richmond, who were the leading members of the White Conduit Club. They wanted him to find a more private venue for their club and made a guarantee against any losses he might suffer. In May 1787 Lord acquired seven acres off Dorset Square in Mary-le-Bone and started his first ground. White Conduit relocated there and soon afterwards formed, or merged into, the new Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).
The lease on thist ground ended in 1810. Lord's second venue, the subject of our book, was built by 1809. However this land was acquired for the Regent's Canal, which was to cut through the site and thereby necessitating a further move. Lord then moved his ground to the present site in St John's Wood, literally taking his turf with him. It opened in 1814. Lord was not, however, making enough money and therefore obtained permission to develop part of the ground for housing. To counter his plan, Lord was bought out for £5,000 by prominent MCC member William Ward, a noted batsman who was also a director of the Bank of England. Despite the change of ownership, the ground has continued to bear Lord's name.
Lord remained in St John's Wood till 1830 when he retired to West Meon in Hampshire, where he died in 1832. He is buried in the churchyard of St John's Church at West Meon. The village has a public house named after him and is just a few miles from Hambledon, home of the famous Hambledon Cricket Club.
The Hon. Basil Cochrane claimed to have developed a form of vapour cure while in India and he determined to improve the health of London's lower classes by establishing a vapour bath at his home in Portman Square. Above is his patented example, where a person sits within a muslin tent while water vapour is fed in. In 1809 he published An Improvement on the Mode of Administering the Vapour Bath. yet despite Cochrane's assertions, vapour bathing in London was not original to him, and Hamams, or Turkish steam baths, had been established in London since the 1630s.
Shampooing (champi) and the related art, malish, were widely practiced in India, and one would chuppy the limbs to induce sleep. This was method of handling, from the feet upwards, all the limbs successively, opening the palm of the hand as if going to grip hard a handful of flesh, and yet grasping it so gently, as hardly to make any impression. Within a household a wife or servant might regularly shampoo the elders of the family or a child to induce relaxation and sleep.
After Sake Dean Mahomet began to shampoo in Cochrane's vapour bath, the idea of shampooing for health quickly seemed tobecome part of the medical jargon of London, and commercial bathhouses would include shampooing among their advertised therapies. Mahomet, however, gained little credit from Cochrane or the London public for his shampooing at the time.
Was the mixed marriage of Sake Dean Mahomet and Jane Daly unusual in late 18th-century Ireland? Undoubtedly. Yet many people had personal experience of Asia: as soldiers, officials, merchants, or travellers. Some had Indian mistresses and Anglo-Indian children, and newspapers periodically published lists of Nabobs. One image of India prevalent at the time remained that of the exotic. Traveling carnivals and circuses, books, plays, and newspaper articles all presented India and Muslims as alien curiosities. There were plays in which the "Sultan" would kidnap a European woman into his harem, only for the plucky white woman to persevere and become the queen. So a Musselman like Sake Dean Mahomet being "converted" to Christianity by Jane on marriage might not have been seen as unknown in polite Irish society. Indeed, it was probably more acceptable than a Protestant and Catholic marrying.
While little is known of Jane's character, to leave her middle-class home and elope at the age of 16 with an exotic Indian suggests a head-strong and determined character, and she seems to have played an active part in all Mahomet's subsequent business activities.
A Subadar, or captain, was the highest rank an Indian could obtain. Pictured above is a Subadar (in red jackets faced with yellow) being saluted by a Havidar, or sergeant. A sepoy is in the background. This print is contemporary with the time Sake Dean Mahomet spent in the Bengal Army of the East India Company.
The Bengal Army was the army of the Presidency of Bengal, one of the three Presidencies of British India. Although based in Bengal in eastern India, the Presidency stretched across northern India and the Himalayas all the way to the North West Frontier Province with Afghanistan. It was predominantky and Indian-born army with Eurooean officers.
Friday, 8 June 2012
The sixth son of the 8th Earl of Dundonald, Basil Cochrane was born in April 1753. As a younger son Cochrane was born with limited prospects. In 1769 young Basil was placed as a clerk in the East India Company based in Madras, and when he returned to England forty years later was fabulously wealthy. This was due to contracts he negotiated to supply the Royal Navy in the Eastern oceans, and the size of these contracts raised more than an eyebrow in Parliament. So Cochrane’s first task on returning to England had been to defend his wealth from charges of embezzlement – something of an occupational hazard for East India Company men. Cochrane's mansion in Portman Square was reputed to be the largest and so reflected others around the square; imposing front doors opened onto a marbled main hall, from which a delicate staircase swept majestically upwards towards the reception rooms on the first floor.
Colonial adventurers like Cochrane were often referred to as Nabobs, a corruption of the Indian title of Nawab. Frowned on for their acquisition of wealth by dubious means, on their return they had settled in some numbers in the newer developments to the west end of London and away from the traditional centres of power. A common fear was that these individuals – the Nabobs, their agents, and those who took their bribes – would use their wealth and influence to corrupt Parliament. A number of prominent Company men underwent inquiries and impeachments on charges of corruption and misrule in India. Warren Hastings, first Governor-General of India, was impeached in 1788 and acquitted in 1795 after a seven year-long trial. And Robert Clive, 1st Baron Clive of India, was forced to defend himself against charges brought against him in the House of Commons. The portrait of Cochrane (above) was painted by John Smart in India in 1789. Below is the home of Clive of India at 45 Berkeley Square,a few minutes south of Portman Square.
The East India Company was a joint-stock company formed for pursuing trade with the East Indies but which ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent. The Company was granted a Royal Charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1600, making it the oldest among several similarly formed companies. Shares in the company were owned by wealthy merchants and aristocrats,with the government owning no shares and so having only indirect control. The Company traded mainly in cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpetre, tea and opium, and also came to rule large areas of India, exercising military power and assuming administrative functions.
In 1757 Robert Clive led Company forces to victory against Siraj Ud Daulah – the last independent Nawab of Bengal, Bihar, and Midnapore – at the Battle of Plassey resulting in the conquest of Bengal. More wars against Indian rulers followed, culminating in the defeat of Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan, the rulers of the Kingdom of Mysore, in 1799. Among its military commanders at the time was one Arthur Wellesley (later the 1st Duke of Wellington).
Yet the Company was not always profitable. In putting down resisting states, it was clear that the Company was incapable of governing the vast expanse of the captured territories without great expense. With the Bengal famine of 1770, in which one-third of the local population died, military and administrative costs mounted due to the ensuing drop in labour productivity. This led to the passing of the Tea Act in 1773, which gave the Company greater autonomy in running its trade in the American colonies, and allowed it an exemption from tea import duties which its colonial competitors were required to pay. When the American colonists were told of the Act they tried to boycott it, triggering the Boston Tea Party and the American Revolution. And Americans have had a distrust of tea ever since!
Still, by 1810 the Company was at it zenith, with a vast shipping fleet controlling much of the trade between Europe and the Orient, and the Company's rule extended to India, Burma, Malaya, Singapore, and British Hong Kong, with a fifth of the world's population under its trading influence from the Company headquaters (above) in Leadenhall Street. The Company flag, after 1801, is below.
Joseph Bramah was born at Stainborough Lane Farm, Wentworth in Yorkshire, in 1748, and was an inventor and locksmith. He is best known for having invented the hydraulic press, yet it was for a more domestic invention which had Georgian and Regency society had reason to thank him. He married and moved to London in 1783, where he worked for a Mr. Allen, installing water closets (toilets) which were designed to a patent obtained by one Alexander Cumming in 1775. He discovered that this model had a tendency to freeze in cold weather, and therefore improved the design by replacing the usual slide valve with a hinged flap that sealed the bottom of the bowl. Bramah obtained the patent for it in 1778, and began making toilets at a workshop in Denmark Street, St Giles. By 1797 he had sold over 6,000 of his water closets. The design was so successful that production continued well into the 19th century, and his original water closets are still working in Osborne House, Queen Victoria's home on the Isle of Wight.
Hannah Glasse was christened on 28th March 1708 at St Andrews church in Holborn. Yet while her father, Isaac Allgood, was a landowner from Northumberland who had recently married one Hannah Clark, her mother is said to have been the widow Hannah Reynolds. Scandal! Young Hannah was removed to Hexham in the north-east of England and brought up by the Allgoods with their legitimate children. In 1724 she married an Irish soldier, John Glasse, and returned to London. Her identity as the author of one of the most popular of 18th-century cookery books was not finally confirmed until 1938. The book, The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy was published by subscription in 1747. It did not reveal its authorship, except generally with the signature By a Lady, which permitted an erroneous claim that it had been written by a man! Yet is was highly popular, and a second edition was soon printed. The same year as the book was written, John Glasse died, and Hannah set herself up as as a dressmaker in Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, in partnership with her eldest daughter Margaret. Unfortunately in 1754 she became bankrupt, though her stock was not auctioned as it was all held in Margaret’s name who continued to trade. She was, however, forced to auction her most prized asset, the copyright for The Art of Cookery. Plagiarized editions of her book became popular in the American colonies, and she unsuccessfully tried to repeat her success with The Servants Directory and The Compleat Confectioner. She died on 1st September 1770, aged 62.
Thursday, 7 June 2012
The Royal Hospital was founded by King Charles II, to succour and relief of veterans broken by age and war. Sir Christopher Wren was commissioned to design and erect the building, which was based on the Hôpital des Invalides in Paris. The Hospital’s chapel was also designed by Wren and is a fine and rare example of his pure ecclesiastical work. It was designed to accommodate about 500 people.
As a retirement and nursing home for British soldiers who are unfit for further duty due to injury or old age, it is a true hospital in the original sense of the word - that is a place where hospitality is provided. There are over 300 soldiers resident in the Royal Hospital, referred to as "in-pensioners", and when out and about can be seen in their traditional scarlet coats and tricorne hats.
The Hospital is open to visitors (see www.chelsea-pensioners.co.uk) Nearest tube Sloane Square.
The Hospital is open to visitors (see www.chelsea-pensioners.co.uk) Nearest tube Sloane Square.
In 1673 the Society of Apothecaries of London founded a physick garden at Chelsea so that their apprentices could learn to grow medicinal plants and study their uses. At the time Chelsea was already famed for its market gardens, and while the garden struggled in the early years, by 1685 the diarist John Evelyn described the heated glass-house, which it thought to be the first in Europe. In 1712 Dr Hans Sloane bought the Manor of Chelsea, along with the freehold of the garden. He had studied in the garden in his youth and was sympathetic to the Apothecaries, to whom he granted a lease on the land for a rent of £5 a year in perpetuity, on condition it be for ever kept and maintained as a physick garden.
In 1983 the garden became an independent charity, and is now open to the public (see www.chelseaphysicgarden.co.uk)
(Nearest tube Sloane Square.)
Henry Addington was the son Anthony Addington, who was physician to William Pitt, the 1st Earl of Chatham and Prime Minister during the Seven Years War against the French in the 1760s. Young Henry therefore was a childhood friend of William Pitt the Younger, who was to dominate the political landscape during the wars against Napoleon. And this friendship was to later lead Henry to climb to the top of the greasy pole.
In 1784 he became Member of Parliament for Devizes, and within five years Speaker of the House of Commons. in 1801 Pitt the Younger fell out with George III over Catholic emancipation – Pitt wanted it, the King didn't – and so Pitt nominated his childhood friend to take over as Prime Minister. Addington's first task was to negotiate peace with Napoleon - the Treaty of Amiens – which gave him time to recover the country's finances, build a string of defensive towers along the south coast of England and create a large standing army of 600,000 men. Thus emboldened he re-declared war of France. Addington's greatest failure was to cultivate a strong following in Parliament, and when in 1804 Pitt and others decided his time was up, Addington was forced to step down. He instilled more loyalty in the King, however, who created him Viscount Sidmouth and Deputy Ranger of Richmond Park.
He returned to government in 1812, first as Lord President of the Council and later as Home Secretary, where he was tasked with countering sedition in the country.
Most of the Marshalsea Prison, off Borough High Street in Southwark on the south bank of the Thames, was taken up with debtors. In 1799 a government report stated that the prison had fallen into decay, and proposed its re-building, which was completed in 1811. The second Marshalsea had two parts, one set aside for Admiralty prisoners under court martial, and the other for debtors. In 1827, 414 out of its 630 debtors were there for debts under £20. Charles Dickens' father, John, was sent there as a debtor on 20th February 1824, under the Insolvent Debtor's Act 1813; he owed a baker £40 and 10 shillings, a sum equivalent to £2,939 in 2012. He was released after three months.
The prison was notoriously cramped. A report in 1833 said there were "an average of more than four persons in each room which are not ten feet square! I will leave the reader to imagine what the situation of men, thus confined, particularly in the summer months, must be." The Marshalsea was closed by an Act of Parliament in 1842, and the inmates were relocated to either another prison or the Bethlem hospital if they were mentally ill.
All that remains of the Marshalsea today is the brick wall that marked the southern boundary of the prison, now called Angel Place. It is just north of the junction of Borough High Street and Tabard Street.
(Nearest tube stations Borough High Street and London Bridge.)
Portrayed by Sir Thomas Lawrence (left) and Sir Joshua Reynolds (right)
Born on 5th July 1755 in Brecon, Wales, Sarah Kemble was the eldest daughter of Roger – manager of the touring theatre company The Warwickshire Company of Comedians – and his wife Sarah "Sally" Ward. In 1773, at the age of 18, she married the actor William Siddons. She gave birth to seven children but outlived five of them, and her marriage to William became strained and ended in an informal separation. He died in 1803. During the late 1770s Sarah gradually built her reputation on the London stage, before becoming a sensation in 1882 when performing the lead role in David Garrick's Isabella or The Fatal Marriage at the Drury Lane theatre. It was beginning of a 20 year reign as queen of Drury Lane, but her most famous role was that of Lady Macbeth.
Mrs Siddons formally retired from the stage in 1812 but made several guest appearances until 1819. She died in London in 1831 and was interred in St Mary's Paddington Green, where there is a statue to Britain's greatest ever actress.
(Nearest tube Edgware Road.)