Food and Drink

~ Two Courses of Fourteen Virtual Lectures, Late 2022 ~

The Thames west of London has been the resort of royalty, aristocrats, artists, writers and wealthy property owners for centuries. As well as building elegant villas, they developed gardens which provided a feast for the senses and supplied food for the table.

In our own times, issues of the sustainability of food production and equity of its distribution are hot topics. In this series of 14 talks, we explore how food was produced and consumed in the past by our Luminaries to help inform discussions on the future of food and drink. Much food was produced locally; great houses such as Chiswick House and Fulham Palace had their own kitchen gardens and Alexander Pope boasted of the sources of his meat supply: ‘To Hounslow Heath I point, and Banstead-Down, / Thence comes your Mutton, and these chicks my own.’ Yet modern luxuries such as tea and coffee stretched supply chains around the globe. Wining and dining also provided hosts with opportunities to display their hospitality and particular taste through the choice of menu and table setting.

This varied banquet of 14 talks will thus also explore cultural dimensions of food and drink. The series ran from 5th October to 17th November 2022.

First Course: Consumption

5th October: Hogarth’s House
Hogarth’s House: Drunk For A Penny

6th October: Ham House and Garden
Aphrodisiac Pies and Taffety Tarts: 17th Century Dining

12th October: Strawberry Hill House
Food in Gothic Literature

13th October: Orleans House
A Return to the Fluorescent Banquet – feasting at Orleans House through the eyes of an artist

19th October: Garrick’s Temple
After you with the salt, Dr Johnson!

20th October: Marble Hill
The Material Culture of Tea at Marble Hill

26th October:Turner’s House
Eels, Pies, Picnics and Banquets

Second Course: Produce

27th October: Pope’s Grotto
Wining and Dining with Alexander Pope

2nd November: Kew Palace
The Royal Kitchens at Kew

3rd November: Gunnersbury House and Park
Mediaeval estate to community garden: centuries of food production at Gunnersbury

9th November: Fulham Palace
Fulham Palace – Posh Nosh

10th November: Boston Manor House
Boston Manor: In the Fields and on the Table

16th November: Chiswick House
Chiswick House & Garden: A kitchen garden for the next 100 years

17th November: Pitzhanger Manor
The Committee of Taste: Soane at Pitzhanger

First Course – Consumption

(October 2022)

Drunk for a Penny

Date: 5th October 2022
Partner: Hogarth’s House
Speaker:John Collins
Recording:View on YouTube

William Hogarth’s work is full of depictions of drinking from people across society. In this talk we will explore the drinks, both alcoholic and not that are depicted in Hogarth’s works and explore their effect on society as well as the artist himself.

John Collins is the Senior Manager for Historic Houses at the London Borough of Hounslow and has overseen Hogarth’s House since it reopened to the public after a major refurbishment in 2011. Most recently John has been a key figure in the Mulberry Garden project at Hogarth’s House, a five year National Lottery Heritage Fund funded scheme which saw a new learning studio built and a redesigned exhibition garden both open to the public in 2021. Before this John was Community Development Manager at Imperial War Museum North and has a background in the field of community engagement with historic sites and their collections.

Aphrodisiac Pies and Taffety Tarts: 17th Century Dining.

Date: 6th October 2022
Partner:Ham House
Speaker:Mary Greene and Mari Smith
Recording:View on YouTube

At Ham House, the Duke and Duchess of Lauderdale lived in grand style – and a sure sign of fashionable status was their employment of a French chef John Blangy.
We take you on a tour of the kitchen, stillroom and domestic offices at Ham and explore some of the recipes the Lauderdales and their royal guests might have enjoyed at a pivotal moment in English food history when aristocratic chefs were returning from exile in France with new-fangled ideas – like puff pastry. 
It is a time of novelty, new ingredients and new techniques – and surprises like chilli bread, made from diarist John Evelyn’s recipe, and an aphrodisiac pie made from sweet potatoes.
Join us for a virtual tasting of some 17th century dishes, sharing the recipes for those who would like to recreate them at home.    

Mari Smith has followed a long career in teaching, sharing her enthusiasm for the science of food and nutrition and her interest in the history of food and domestic life. More recently, she has taught children in the film and entertainment industry.  

Mary Greene is a journalist and is passionate about historic baking and recipes.

Together, Mary and Mari are volunteer historic bakers at Ham House and Garden, presenting recipes adapted from 17th century cookery books. They have created spectacular sugar banquets and food displays in the Ham House kitchen and dining room, and seasonal displays using produce from the kitchen garden. This has inspired further research into 17th century food and domestic life, with particular reference to Ham House.

Food in Gothic Literature.

Date: 12th October 2022
Partner: Strawberry Hill House
Speaker:Dr Alessandra Pino
Recording:View on YouTube

Horace Walpole famously, described his house at Strawberry Hill as his “little gothic castle” and following the success of his novel, The Castle of Otranto, for the second edition he added the subheading “A Gothic Story” to the title – thus the literary genre of the Gothic novel began. This talk explores the role that food and drink plays in classic and contemporary Gothic texts, varying from the withdrawal of food serving as a punishment to Mary Shelley’s vegetarian monster, who like Walpole, doesn’t “glut” his appetite with meat!

Dr Alessandra Pino is an expert on the edible and the Gothic. Alessandra was born in Hampstead, London, to an Italian mother and Venezuelan diplomat father, and grew up in several different countries. Holding university degrees in English Literature from Naples “L’Orientale” and having worked with a Michelin-starred chef for nearly ten years, Alessandra is a Ph.D. candidate at Westminster University where her studies focus on food in Gothic literature.

A Return to the Fluorescent Banquet – feasting at Orleans House through the eyes of an artist

Date: 13th October 2021
Partner:Orleans House
Speaker:Jonathan Roson
Recording:View on YouTube

Jonathan Roson from the art collective Alice in Hackneyland will be talking about his work the Fluorescent Banquet, which was commissioned in 2020 to celebrate 300 years of the Octagon Room. The work and Jonathan’s talk explore centuries of feasting at OHG, the complex relationships entwined with this history and its significance today.

Jonathan is an Australian British artist, of Asian cultural heritage, currently living and working in London. Jonathan holds a Bachelor degree in Horticultural Science from Western Sydney University and a Master of Fine Arts from UNSW Art and Design. He is a current member of the Royal Society of Sculptors and co-founder of artist collective Alice in Hackneyland, he has exhibited locally and internationally.

After you with the salt, Dr Johnson!

Date: 19th October 2022
Partner:Garrick’s Temple
Speaker:Clive Francis
Recording:View on YouTube

A glimpse into the gastronomic delights of Garrick’s closest acquaintances. James Quin and how he could effortlessly drink his host under the table. Dr. Johnson, and his insatiable thirst for rotten meat and strawberries and cream and where for a time ladies would be required to sit quietly, almost silently, at one end of the dining table while gentlemen sat uproariously at the other. The spotlight though, will concentrate largely on Dr. Johnson, who suffered from binge-eating and engaged in inappropriate compensatory behaviour to help control his weight. But then according to the wise doctor: ‘For my part, I mind my belly very studiously, and very carefully; for I look upon it, that he who does not mind his belly, will hardly mind anything else.’

Clive Francis is a successful caricaturist, playwright, and actor, having performed with both the RSC and the National Theatre and with over twenty performances in the West End. His most recent film appearances being The Crown, Official Secrets and the Lost City of Z. He became involved in Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare, whom he is now founder member of it’s restoration, back in 1998, when he helped raise the initial funding for its restoration and obtaining, thanks to the British Library, a replica of the statue to Shakespeare by Louis François Roubiliac. Garrick was extremely proud of his elegant house which he described, with typical understatement, as his ‘pretty place by ye Thames side.’

The Material Culture of Tea at Marble Hill

Date: 20th October 2022
Partner:Marble Hill
Speaker:Olivia Fryman
Recording:View on YouTube

When Marble Hill was built in the late 1720s, tea was the most fashionable refreshment in England. For Marble Hill’s first owner, Henrietta Howard, taking tea was not only an important part of her daily routine, it also provided opportunities for socialising, and for indulging her great passion for porcelain. This talk will explore Henrietta’s collecting habits, as well as the ways in which tea making permeated polite portraiture, particularly eighteenth-century ‘conservation pieces’ of families at the tea table.

Olivia Fryman is a Curator of Collections and Interiors at English Heritage, with responsibility
for Down House, Eltham Palace and Ranger’s House. She also worked on the representation of Marble Hill. Olivia specialises in the study of late 17th and early 18th century material culture with particular focus on the royal court and the history of tea.

Turner’s House – Eels, Pies, Picnics and Banquets

Date: 26th October 2020
Partner:Turners House
Speakers:Dr Matthew Morgan and Catherine Parry-Wingfield
Recording:View on YouTube

J.M.W. Turner’s modest retreat, Sandycombe Lodge, near Twickenham, placed him close to an excellent source of food, the river Thames. Turner, who loved fishing, made the most of this, and captured some of the elements in his paintings. The fare at Sandycombe was modest, but Turner also enjoyed the richness of Royal Academy dinners, and the generosity of his friends and patrons. In the company of friends and fellow-artists, enjoying food and drink, our sometimes reticent painter became the life and soul of the party.

Dr Matthew Morgan is part-time Museum Director of Turner’s House in Twickenham and is an Associate Lecturer at Birkbeck, University of London, from where he also received his PhD in Museum Studies. He has worked in the heritage sector for 10 years, including at the Royal Collection and the National Gallery. Prior to that he was a Director at Christie’s.

Catherine Parry-Wingfield is an art historian with a long career in teaching and lecturing, specialising in the visual arts of 18th and early 19th century Britain and Europe. She was a trustee of Turner’s House Trust from its inception in 2005, and chair from 2013 to 2019, during which time she was actively engaged as a member of the conservation project team, particularly with the presentation of the interior. She has written two booklets, J.M.W. Turner, R.A. – the artist and his house at Twickenham and J.M.W. Turner and the ‘Matchless Vale of Thames’ (available from Turner’s House) and an article for The London Gardener, 2012, The Grounds of Sandycombe Lodge, J.M.W. Turner’s Country Retreat at Twickenham.

Second Course – Produce

(October-November 2022)

Wining and Dining with Alexander Pope

Date: 27th October 2022
Partner:Pope’s Grotto
Speaker:Professor Judith Hawley
Recording:View on YouTube

The poet Alexander Pope was proud of his independence and of his social relations. Both a symbol and an embodiment of his beliefs, his villa and garden in Twickenham were built with the profits of his pen and provided a space where he could entertain his friends. His five-acre garden furnished much of the food that was served at his table; the local area provided much of the rest. His determination to consume locally produced food also attests to his belief in moderation. In his poetry, he scorned both the greedy gourmet whose body becomes ‘A Tomb of boil’d, and roast, and flesh, and fish’ and the parsimony of the miser who dines on roots soused in vinegary wine. His friends present a more complex picture of Pope’s wining and dining. This talk will compare the image Pope presents of the values associated with consumption and hospitality in his poetry with what research reveals about what it was really like to dine with Alexander Pope.

Judith Hawley is Professor of Eighteenth-Century Literature in the Department of English, Royal Holloway, University of London and frequently appears on BBC radio and TV. She is a Trustee of the Pope’s Grotto Preservation Trust. Her research interests range from gin to Grub street and she has a particular interest in the history of the amateur performance.

The Royal Kitchens at Kew

Date: 2nd November 2022
Partner:Kew Palace
Speaker:Lee Prosser
Recording:View on YouTube

In 1818, when Queen Charlotte died at Kew Palace, the Clerk of the Royal Kitchens locked the doors and never came back. The spaces were used as residences and storage for the next two centuries until Historic Royal Palaces completed a restoration project in 2011. Lee Prosser, Buildings Curator at Historic Royal Palaces will explain how these spaces were brought back to life and what they can tell us about food and drink at Kew Palace.

Lee Prosser is curator – historic buildings at Historic Royal Palaces, responsible for Kew Palace, Kensington Palace State Apartments and Hillsborough Castle in Belfast. He was part of the team which re-presented and conserved Kew Palace in 2006, and latterly was curatorial lead on both the restoration of the royal kitchens in 2011 and the Great Pagoda at Kew in 2018.

Mediaeval estate to community garden: centuries of food production at Gunnersbury

Date: 3rd November 2022
Partner:Gunnersbury House and Park
Speaker:Val Bott
Recording:View on YouTube

Transformed from farmland into a Palladian estate in the 1660s, Georgian owners transformed Gunnersbury again with a new walled garden, fish pond and hothouses, while the 19th century estate raised livestock and produced spectacular fruits. Its early days as a public park saw land used for rearing sheep while today, after a fabulous regeneration, a dedicated volunteer team cares for an orchard and a community garden

Val Bott is a curator by training and a historian by enthusiasm. She edits the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Journal and runs A founder member of the Friends of Gunnersbury Park & Museum, Val is co-author of Gunnersbury Park: the Place & the People (Scala Books)

Gunnersbury House

Fulham Palace – Posh Nosh

Date: 9th November 2022
Partner:Fulham Palace
Speaker:Alexis Haslam
Recording:View on YouTube

The site of Fulham Palace has been occupied for over 5,000 years, probably because of its location next to an important crossing of the Thames. From 704 AD to 1973 it was the home of the Bishop of London and is one of the oldest working estates in the country.
This talk will explore the diet of the Bishop of London from the medieval period to the 19th century.
As one of the wealthiest and most powerful figures in the country, the Bishop had access to the best food and drink. As well as buying in food and wine, there was a farm, vegetable garden, orchard and brewery on the Palace site.
Some highlights of this talk will include the earliest turkey found in London (dating to the early 16th century), an example of the Bishop being able to buy the latest imports, and the exotic taste of the great plant collector Bishop Compton (1675-1713) – who liked to sprinkle chillies on his salads.

Alexis Haslam, community archaeologist, joined Fulham Palace Trust in May 2017. He holds a BA in History and is a Member of the Institute for Archaeologists. He began working in archaeology upon graduating in 2000, working his way up from a field technician to a project officer. He has directed and published numerous archaeological excavations including his most recent work ‘Tales from the Vaults and other Newington Horror Stories’. After 16 years he left Pre-Construct Archaeology to join Fulham Palace Trust and is currently working on writing up the Palace’s long and complex history for a monograph due to be published in 2024.

Boston Manor: In the Fields and on the Table

Date: 10th November 2022
Partner:Boston Manor House
Speaker:John Collins
Recording:View on YouTube

Boston Manor House was built in 1623 and has witnessed many changes in society and its relationship with food and drink. In this talk we will look at what was eaten and drunk at Boston Manor House over the centuries and explore what was produced on the estate for the house’s residents and beyond.

John Collins is the Senior Manager for Historic Houses at the London Borough of Hounslow and has overseen Hogarth’s House since it reopened to the public after a major refurbishment in 2011. Most recently John has been a key figure in the Mulberry Garden project at Hogarth’s House, a five year National Lottery Heritage Fund funded scheme which saw a new learning studio built and a redesigned exhibition garden both open to the public in 2021. Before this John was Community Development Manager at Imperial War Museum North and has a background in the field of community engagement with historic sites and their collections.

Chiswick House & Garden: A kitchen garden for the next 100 years

Date: 16th November 2022
Partner:Chiswick House & Garden
Speaker:Rosie Fyles
Recording:View on YouTube

The kitchen garden at Chiswick House and Gardens has been a productive space for almost 350 years. During the last century , they were restored from decades of neglect by an innovative, local team, committed to re-invigorating this atmospheric and story-rich spaces for the future. Rosie’s talk will focus on the legacy that she and her team seek to honour in their work to develop a kitchen garden for the future: extending in to historic productive spaces designed for fruit, drawing on previous use and applying climate predictions to planting and landscape design.

Rosie Fyles was recently appointed Head of Gardens at Chiswick House and Gardens Trust. Having worked in the National Trust for almost ten years, latterly as Head Gardener of Ham House and Garden, Rosie began her working life in marketing and communications. Rosie is a Trustee of Silent Space, a charity that promotes peaceful time in green spaces. Known for her wildlife-friendly, climate-conscious approach to developing historic gardens, Rosie has contributed widely in print and broadcast media, most recently writing a series for domestic gardeners in Period Living magazine.

The Committee of Taste: Soane at Pitzhanger

Date: 17th November 2022
Partner:Pitzhanger Manor
Speaker:Clare Gough
Recording:View on YouTube

For Sir John Soane, Pitzhanger’s gardens were as important as the Manor, which he designed as a space for hospitality and entertainment centred around food. In his kitchen gardens, he grew a variety of herbs and vegetables, and he kept the lake stocked with fish not only to provide dinner but also an opportunity for social interaction. Drawing on the detailed records of Soane and his wife Eliza’s diaries, this talk will explore the major role that food played in their life.

Clare Gough is Director of Pitzhanger Manor & Gallery, Sir John Soane’s ‘country’ house in Ealing, west London and its adjacent contemporary gallery. Pitzhanger reopened to the public in March 2019 with an acclaimed Anish Kapoor sculpture exhibition in the Gallery, following a three year, award -winning restoration of the Manor to Soane’s original design, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, Ealing Council and many others. It runs a programme of exciting exhibitions, diverse speakers and events, and extensive learning and outreach initiatives to engage local schools and communities. Clare’s career combines experience of the arts and commercial sectors. She was previously a Trustee of the Museum of the Home, Director of Communications at the National Gallery, and New Media Director at National Gallery Co. Ltd, before setting up an arts consultancy working with the V&A and other institutions.