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Historic Food, Wreay Farm, Shap, Penrith, Cumbria, CA10 3LB, UK



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Ivan's Blog - Food History Jottings

Ivan is best known for his museum exhibitions of re-created historic table settings and is considered to be one of the foremost authorities in this field. In addition to his courses and museum work, Ivan is an experienced broadcaster, having worked in both television and radio, and has written books, articles and papers on English food history. Having started collecting antiquarian cookery books and culinary utensils when he was only thirteen, Ivan now has forty years experience of cooking period food.

Ivan's private working museum of antique kitchen artifacts is not open to the public, but is utilized as a teaching aid on his courses. So you might find yourself roasting meat using an original seventeenth century clockwork spitjack, preparing cordial waters in a Georgian still, or making jellies and creams with Victorian moulds. Our courses consist of demonstrations and hands-on experience. You will use recipes from original printed and manuscript sources. You will learn about the traditional methods, equipment and materials of Stuart and Georgian bakers, cooks and confectioners and gain experience in making a range ofhistoric English dishes.

The fee is £300 for a two day course. This price does not include bed and breakfast, but it does include all other meals - prepared by you of course! Participants are accommodated in nearby hotels and bed and breakfasts, many of which are within walking distance. We offer a range of extremely good value places to stay, all comfortable and some luxurious. We will book you into your accommodation, but ask you to settle your bill yourself.

Historic Food is conveniently located only 5 minutes from Junction 39 on the M6. For participants who come by rail we are also happy to arrange transport for you from the nearest station (Penrith on the Euston/Glasgow West Coast Line). Our nearest international airports are Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow and Teesside.


Curing a ham in a 150 year old salt-glazed ham pan. Find out about our new course on Period Curing and Preserving

Brunswick Star Jelly

Click these links to read more about the Victorian Course and the Brunswick Star Jelly.


We are located at Wreay Farm, a small seventeenth century farmhouse in Cumbria, on the edge of the Lake District National Park. The farmhouse kitchen (known locally as a firehouse) is equipped with a wide range of antique kitchen utensils and a roasting range complete with clockwork jacks. It has frequently been used as a television kitchen (recently in the US Food Network's Food Fit for a King and for BBC2 Open University's Open Minds). We also have a confectionery room and a small bakehouse with wood-fired oven. We limit our group size to six participants per course, which means you get plenty of individual attention. You will cook your own lunches, but will get to experience a Saturday night dinner of period dishes cooked by Ivan. Menus for these vary from course to course, but see the sample Bill of Fare at the bottom of this page for a preview of the nature of the gastronomic experience you will be letting yourself in for.


A view of Wreay Farm from the garden. There has been a farmhouse on the site since at least the sixteenth century. The existing building dates from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Historic Food is only half a mile from the Lake District National Park. Our nearest lakes are Haweswater and Ullswater situated among the beautiful Eastern Fells. Why not combine your weekend course with a Lake District holiday and explore some of the least visited parts of our most spectacular and romantic National Park? We are happy to advise on both accommodation, places to visit and local activities.

Sample Dinner Menu

Bill of Fare

The Queen's Pottage

Potted Windermere Char

Punch Romaine

Spit-roast Leg of Herdwick Mutton with Oysters

Tort de Moy

A Medley of Eighteenth Century English Ices

Sweetmeats, Hippocras and Cordial Waters

We stock a good range of quality wines to enjoy with your meal, all at reasonable prices.

We have a remarkable collection of old moulds and other equipment which you will learn to use by hands-on experience. As far as we know, there is nowhere else in the world where you can learn to make period dishes as authentically as we make them at Historic Food. Where else could you make the remarkable Brunswick Star Jelly illustrated below?

Brunswick Star Jelly

This stunning jelly designed to celebrate the wedding of Edward, Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandria in 1863 was just one of many dishes made by this enthusiastic group on our Victorian Cookery course. When sliced, the jelly reveals the Brunswick star, which goes all the way through the centre of the dish like the motif in a stick of rock.

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