Talks & Workshops
I love lecturing. It’s a joy to be able to take the results of many a dusty archive trawl and make them come alive, and if I can persuade people to try a couple of recipes from their grandmother’s Mrs Beeton, or visit a country house and see it in a whole new light, then I know I am doing my job.
I have now retired from The Arts Society (previously NADFAS), and lecture to mainly general public audiences, with a variety of talks, tasting and occasionally workshops in heritage sites across the UK.
Past and present clients include: The National Trust; Historic Royal Palaces; English Heritage; The Bowes Museum; Salon London; Fairfax House, York; Chawton House; Ealing Museums (Gunnersbury Park & Pitzhanger Manor); the WI; the U3A; Morley literature festival; Halifax Festival, Cambridge Food Festival, York Food Festival and many others.
I have an ever-growing range of ‘off-the-peg’ options, most of which can be presented either as an hour long lecture or a 45mn talk with tastings from a relevant period, and also offer more in depth study days (or half days) I am always happy to write something new or tailor talks for a particular site.
‘Off the peg’ lectures
- 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.
- 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.
- Appearing to Advantage: The art of dining in Georgian England.
Covers dinner in what one commentator called the epitome of civilisation.
- A Cake History.
English history, seen through a veil of sweet cake crumbs.
- Beeton’s Book of Household Management in its culinary context.
Biographical lecture covering Beeton’s life and times and the state of culinary play in 1861.
- 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.
- 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.
- Christmas Dinner: from Edward I to Edward VII.
A swift trot through the vagaries of dinner from the medieval to almost modern times.
- Mrs Beeton’s Christmas.
Concentrating on the Victorian Christmas, this combines elements of the Beeton lecture with a jolly Christmassy bent. Contains turkey and nuts.
- The Baroque Lifestyle.
A whistlestop tour of late Stuart England, advising the audience on how to cope with life as one of the rich and famous in around 1700. Has something for everyone, from architecture to dress.
- Spaddles & Sorbets: A history of ice cream.
Does what it says on the tin. Usually includes recipes to take away and cook at home.
- 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...
- Calves heads & cockentryce: Feasting through history.
A fairly light-hearted talk, intended as an introduction to food history. Not for the squeamish.
- Tasty titbits: an introduction to seventeenth century cookery
A beginners talk, concentrating on kitchens and techniques, rather than fine dining.
Usually includes a demo.
- 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.
Study days/Half days
- Jellies and Gin Shops: How to live like a Georgian OR Tight-lacing and Trifles: How to live like a Victorian.(Half Day)
One lecture on general social history, covering housing, dress, transport and morals, and a second on food.
- Dining in Victorian OR Georgian Britain (Whole Day)
Three lectures, on dining style, kitchens and their equipment, and the practical side of cookery, including food presentation.