Ye Bill of ye Fare.

MENU (c. 1879].)


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Wednesday ye 31st daie of December in ye Present yeere of grace 1879 In plaine English tearmes set forth without sensible Error by other fackts for profytable use. 


Manuscript. Large Folio (560 x 380mm). [16pp, text and illustrations on recto only]., elaborate manuscript with numerous illustrations in ink on thick cartridge paper; original green ribbon sash (now detached). A little spotted in places, edges slightly chipped and worn.


[Aswarby House, Lincolnshire, c. 1879]. 

An elaborate illustrated manuscript menu for a dinner given in honor of Colonel John Reeve (1822-1897) on New Year's Eve 1879.


The dinner was hosted by Sir Thomas Whichcote 7th Baronet (1813-1892) and his wife Isabella Elizabeth Whichcote (nee Montgomery) at Aswarby House (near Sleaford, Lincolnshire). The menu was designed and illustrated by the 22 year old Isabella Cecil (nee Whichcote, 1857-1917), she names herself "Baronesse Isabella Burghley" on the title-page  - daughter of Sir Thomas - and the wife of the 4th Marquees of Exeter, Brownlow Cecil (they married in September 1875). Isabella was assisted in the production of the menu by her young "couzen Mistress Ethel Montgomirie".


After the elaborate title-page the menu begins with a limerick on the name "Reeve" accompanied by a large illustration of two reeve birds by Isabella Burghley. The second page has a dedication to Colonel Reeve - "admired on account of great valour and skill as a brave hunter of ye wilde beaste ye foxe as also a renown'd marksman...". The dedication is illustrated with fox and rabbit hunting equipment. The next page has an illustration of Aswarby House and an "explanation" of the feast which is to be "after ye mannere of ye Russian people". This page is illustrated with a rabbit pie, a rib of beef, a pineapple, bread, wine cups and a large bottle of wine.


The menu begins with a "soupe made from ye contents of ye mightie kytchen stock pot wyth lyttle crustardes floating therein" followed by whiting, "ye beefe of Scotland, stew'd with divers kynds curious vegetables added thereunto" and many more courses. On the following page are the desserts and wines including a mince pie, "ye cheese from Legh [Leigh, actually in Lancashire] in ye county of Yorkshire, toasted after ye manner of ye Welsh people" and "ye wines of Champagne and manie outlandysh Countrees". 


There is another "Bill of Fare" on the following page which is dated "November 22nd 1881" (it is not clear why this is placed here as it appears to be for another dinner - possibly the menu was re-used) which includes Oysters, Boston Slips, Chicken and Truffles encased in pastry", Russian Cutlets, Roast Grouse, Mince pies and Anchovy Toast. This menu is signed "wyth ye profounde respect and regarde of his cozen Isabella Burghley". 


The final leaf has a large illustration of a bell engraved with "1880" (possibly ringing in the New Year of the first dinner) and a short verse celebrating Colonel Reeve. 


Stock Code: 239476

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