Food is a great way to engage people, whether they are visitors to a historic site, or a potential audience for a TV documentary. The history of what and how we ate, and the people who transformed it from raw to cooked, is endlessly fascinating, and has the potential to spark questions about a broad range of topics, both historical and contemporary.
With one foot in academic and one foot in public history, I am well-placed to give advice on the interpretation of the spaces and places of dining. Having run a team of professional costumed interpreters in the service wing at Audley End (English Heritage) for many years, as well as working in costume at Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London, I’m very practiced in the highs and lows of working in costume and character. Because I tend to cook the recipes I come across, I’m also pretty good at selecting public-friendly historic dishes, and teaching people to use them in their exploration of the past.
- Gunnersbury Park: advice on reinterpretation of food spaces following successful HLF bid.
- Historic Royal Palaces: educator and advisor on Victorian and Georgian sections for the madly popular FutureLearn History of Royal Food and Feasting course, in association with the University of Reading. You can register interest for future runs here ›
- National Trust, Hardwick Hall: advice on service area reinterpretation as part of stage 1 HLF bid.
- Mansion House, York: part of advisory panel for successful stage 1 and 2 HLF bid to reinterpret silver collection, kitchens and state rooms and ongoing part of the project as it comes to life.
- Westminster Archives: advice on cooking historical recipes and themes emerging from manuscript cookbook, published online as the cookbook of the unknown ladies.
- National Trust, Quarry Bank Mill: volunteer training to reinterpret 18th century apprentice house kitchens, including cooking in front of the public.
- National Trust, Attingham Park: training volunteers in techniques of 18th century costumed interpretation and use of food history with general public
- National Trust, Charlecote Park: training volunteers and advising volunteer coordinator on 19th century costumed interpretation and cooking in public, especially interpretation of the deer park
- National Trust, Ickworth: domestic history consultant, training volunteers and ongoing advice on the interpretation of 1930s service spaces below the central rotunda Historic Royal Palaces: training room guides at Kew and Kensington on 18th century dining and the historic of tea.
- Historic Royal Palaces: training sessions on Georgian food for Kew Palace guides and interactive session on tea for Kensington Palace guides.
- Historic Royal Palaces: brief on table layout and dish presentation at Kew Palace, to inform interpretive scheme at Kew Palace Kitchens.
- English Heritage: research report into cooking activities at Swiss Cottage, Osborne House, to inform reinterpretation and presentation of the Cottage, aimed at a family audience.
- English Heritage: research report into the kitchens at Osborne House, including fixtures, use, staff, recipes and dining at the house, to inform renovation and interpretation of the kitchen wing at the house.
- English Heritage/Past Pleasures: series of event-oriented research packs on various Victorian themes for use by costumed team working at Audley End house.
- English Heritage: consultant (and occasional contributor) for the incredibly popular Victorian Way videos, featuring Mrs Crocombe, the 1880s cook at Audley End.
- Wall-to-Wall for BBC2: consultant (and presenter) on The Sweetmakers, the follow-up to Victorian Bakers.
- Wall-to-Wall for BBC2: consultant (and presenter) on Victorian Bakers and Victorian Bakers at Christmas, a 3 part living history documentary.
- Red House for C4: food historian & cook for A Great British Christmas with Sarah Beeny
- Crocodile Media for BBC4: Historic food consultant on Calf's Head & Coffee (winner of a guild of food writers award)
- ITV: advisor on restaurant scene for The Great War: The People's Story
Historic Meals / Menu Advice
I don't usually cook the food, but work with a chef or caterer to produce a historically informed or inspired set of dishes which will work in a modern catering context.
For large scale events, or food recreations for TV, I generally work with a crack team of chefs, including Miranda Godfrey, Sophie Wright and Ian Sutton.
- Roux at Parliament Square: Bonfire Night dinner, consultant and speaker
- Victoria and Albert at Osborne: gala dinner, consultant and speaker
- Cambridge History Festival: advisor and introducing courses
- Roehampton university memory banquet: also speaker and performer
- IHR food in history conference dinner: also speaker and introducing courses
- Gravity Fields Festival opening dinner: also speaker and introducing courses
English Heritage Victorian Way YouTube channel
Historic Royal Palaces Food and Feasting course
Ickworth House below stairs
Plus excellent spin off from the living history activities here
Swiss Cottage, Osborne
Audley End service wing
Kew Palace kitchens