I’m also a performer and I love the thrill of a live audience.
I spent many years as a ghost tour guide in York, and then became a professional live interpreter, working in costume and usually in character at sites as varied as Hampton Court Palace, the Tower of London, No.1 Royal Crescent, Bath and Audley End House. For over five years I led the interpretive team in the service wing at Audley, playing the slightly mischievous first kitchenmaid. It all helped to hone my skills as a public speaker, and, while I still occasionally don a corset and a silly hat, I’m more often to be found being myself.
Past and present clients include: The Arts Society (formerly NADFAS), Historic Royal Palaces, The National Trust, Jane Street, Marstons, The Bowes Museum, Salon London, Fairfax House, Ealing Museums, The WI, Halifax Festival, and Morley Arts Festival. I also appear as part of the general public programme for venues such as Leyburn Garden Rooms, The Spring, Havant, and Otley Courthouse.
In addition to my listed talks, I can also work with caterers to plan historically inspired or themed menus, then acting as compere and speaker for the evening, introducing courses and giving context.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for all speaking enquiries
- Serving Winston: the story of Churchill’s longest-serving cook.
Drawing on research for my recent book, this talk looks at Georgina Landemare’s life and times. More than just a story of a cook and her illustrious employer, this is also about food in the 20th century and domestic service.
- Eating with Queen Victoria: a Greedy Queen.
Based on my first book, a heady romp through Victoria’s kitchens and dining rooms which gives an entirely new perspective on Britain’s best-known monarch.
- Dining at Downton: cooking and eating in the early 20th century country house
Going beyond the Official Downton Abbey Cookbook, this talk looks at the real stories of below and above stairs life in the houses which inspired the TV series.
- To please the palate, charm the eye: 400 years of food as ephemeral art.
Concentrating on food presentation, this lecture explores food and fashion over the last 400 years, from Tudor pies,to arctic roll.
- Spaddles & Sorbets: A history of ice cream.
Does what it says on the tin. Usually includes recipes to take away and cook at home.
- Appearing to Advantage: The art of dining in Georgian England.
Covers dinner in what one commentator called the epitome of civilisation.
- Trial by dinner: The art of dining in Victorian England.
Exactly as it says, this talk covers the changing layout of the table, and etiquette of dining, in the nineteenth century.
- A Cake History.
English history, seen through a veil of sweet cake crumbs.
- By George! Dining with royalty in Georgian England
Modern Britain was born under the four Georges, including modern food. This talk considers the highs and definite lows of royal dining in a time of enlightenment and excess.
- Cuckold’s Delight & Mother’s Ruin: a history of gin in England.
(I also have a more general talk on alcohol in C17th England)
Lots of lurid pictures of drunk people as I explain the darker side of gin. Popular to have as part of a gin tasting evening...
- Wives and witches: the art of taking tea in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Looking at tea, from its elite origins to its role as the national drink of England, from a gently gendered perspective.
- A witch’s tipple: a history of coffee in England
Occasionally rather rude glimpse into coffee in the past.
- In Due Praise of Chocolate: Drinking, eating and cooking the divine bean in Georgian England.
From 17th century liquid gold, to 20th century snacking, looks at chocolate in all its glory
- Christmas is a lusty fellow: the Georgian Christmas.
Christmas yes, but sharply in decline – lecture looks at what we did before the Victorians reinvented the jolliest of seasons.
- Christmas Dinner: from Edward I to Edward VII.
A swift trot through the vagaries of dinner from the medieval to almost modern times.
- Steamed puddings and shopping ahoy! The Victorians and the invention of Christmas
Concentrating on the Victorian Christmas, this combines elements of the Beeton lecture with a jolly Christmassy bent. Contains turkey and nuts.