Frances Anne kept an Antique Journal, comprising of more than 150 pages of Menus and Recipes for large and small gatherings throughout the 19th century
She was the wife of John Bayntun Starky, of Spye Park, Wiltshire and she inscribed her name and date on the inside cover.
Obviously her Journal was something she treasured very much and you can tell by it's condition that is was used almost daily. At some stage, the hard cover was severed, but instead of replacing it with a newer one, she stitched the entire piece back on again with a needle and thread. The picture on the right shows the stitching and in her own handwriting, the wording:
Frances Anne had a reputation of being a great cook and being able to cater for large dinner parties by calculating the exact amount of food required. In her Journal she has such entries for 40 guests for a Dinner Party on the 8th August 1878 and another provision for 70 to 80 guests, on the 26th August 1875.
There are too many menus to list, but pictured below are a selection taken from the book. Soups, Brawn, Bacon, Pork, Ham, Beef, Mutton Cutlets, Meatballs, Pies, Fish, Lobster, Crabs, Poultry, Black and White Pudding, Curry, Indian Pickle, Omelettes, Vegetables, Puddings, Sauces, Pancakes, Frangipane, Homemade Biscuits, Sweet Pastry, Cheesecakes, Soda Cake, Rock Cake, Pelican Cake, Queen Victoria's Cake, Diet Loaf, Chocolate Cake, Sultana Cake, Scones, Plum Pudding, Sponge, Tarts, Scotch Cake, Trifle, Fritters, Souffle, Sauces, Homemade Jelly and Orange Marmalade, Chutney, Sago, Homemade Ginger Beer, Lemonade, Sweet Ale, Milk Punch, Lemon Brandy, Elder Wine, Gin Punch, Orange Liqueur, Jenkin's Punch, Sloe Gin, Apple Ginger and Tigers Milk to mention but a few.
Country farmers tended to eat better with a diet of meat, vegetables and fresh milk. Popular foods included beef, mutton, port, bacon, cheese, eggs, bread, potatoes, rice, porridge oats, milk, vegetables, flour, sugar, treacle, jam and tea. More wealthy, or upper-class people, such as the Baynton Starky family had a more frequent social life and meals became an elaborate event that took planning and skill, Hosting fancy dinner parties was a new way to elevate social class in Victorian England artistically. Instead of cooks and servants, middle and upper-class women began to cook themselves and make complicated dishes to impress family members and their guests.
Such was a very good reason why Fances Anne would be totally lost without her Journal.