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Chatsworth House

A re-creation of a high baroque buffet garnished with English Silver Gilt collected by the 1st Duke of Devonshire

Photo: Metrtopolitan Museum

This painting by Alexandre François Desportes 1661–1743) is the chief source for the buffet display re-created at Chatsworth Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art..

This spectacular assemblage of English silver gilt has been put together from items that were collected by William Cavendish, the 1st Duke of Devonshire (1640-1707). It is likely that this is the first time that such a buffet has been assembled in England since the period of the Duke. It is now permanantly on display in the Great Chamber in Chatsworth House. The other state rooms at Chatsworth have now all been restored to their original seventeenth century appearance.

Chatsworth House Website

Spectacular baroque pies were a form of edible sculpture in the seventeenth century.

A moulded ice in the form of the trunk of a palm tree surrounded by its garnishing ices.

Ivan working in the wonderful Harewood House kitchen. .

Victorian pewter ice cream moulds were used to create elaborate ice puddings and frozen centrepieces like the beautiful swan in the illustration in the column opposite.

Dalemain House Cumbria, the venue for the world's first marmalade festival.

The hunt is on for the best marmalade in Britain! If you think your own recipe is worth this accolade, find out more about this unique event by visiting the Marmalade Festival Website.

Ivan is going to be at the festival, which is in aid of the charity Hospice at Home. He will be talking about the history of marmalade in Dalemain's historic kitchen and have at hand some very early examples, like the quince and orange marmalades illustrated opposite. Using original 18th century equipment he will also be making D'Arcy Ice, a remarkable marmalade ice cream from Georgian Scotland.

Christmas at Osborne House

Queen Victoria's dining table will be resplendent with Victorian dessert delicacies as the stunning centrepiece of a feast of festive decorations bedecking Osborne House for special Christmas guided tours taking place on Wednesdays to Sundays from November 11 until January 7.

Created for English Heritage by food historian Ivan Day, the table will be flamboyantly set for dessert in the style Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and members of 19th century aristocracy would have recognised it.

Sweet dishes going on display include:

•  ‘his and hers' jellies, made with the original moulds designed to commemorate the wedding in 1863 of Edward Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark. When sliced horizontally, one jelly has the Danish flag running through it, the other depicts a white star of Brunswick

•  a timbale in the form of a beehive, complete with bees made from pistachios, currants and flaked almonds.

•  an ornamental ‘croquembouche of genoise cake,' held together with caramelised sugar and acting as a 'cosy' for a moulded ice cream.

•  savoy and baba cakes for dipping in sweet wines, confectionery, fruits and even walnuts tied in silk ribbon

•  other parts of the house feature two authentically decorated Christmas trees, garlands of dried herbs and arrangements of flowers and ferns. Christmas gifts given to Queen Victoria by members of her family will also be on display

A re-creation of Jules Gouffé's Genoise Paste Croquembouche. It contains a moulded strawberry ice garnished with maidenhair fern.

Gouffé'soriginal illustration of the croquembouche from his Royal Confectionery and Pastry Book translated in 1874 from the French by his brother Alphonse. Alphonse Gouffé was Queen Victoria's chief pastry cook.

Gouffé's original illustration.

Kasteel van Gaasbeek

Recently Ivan has been working as historical advisor to the Kasteel van Gaasbeek on the outskirts of Brussels, where the wonderful exhibitionVan Pièce Montée tot Pêche Melba opened on the 30th September. This important exhibition looks at the cultural role of the dessert in 19th Century Europe and should not be missed. Ivan worked on the displays with outstanding museum director Luc Vanackere and the renowned Patisserie Mahieu of Stockel in Brussels.

A neo-gothic pièce montée based on a design by Urbain Dubois in front of a real gothic tapestry - one of many in the Kasteel van Gaasbeek collection.

Luc Vanackere's ormalu altar to brioche, kugelhopf and savarin.

A pièce montée in the form of a chinoiserie pagoda after Urbain Dubois.

The exhibition is rich in the neo-gothic. Here is a tiny sugar toy in the form of a lute.

A table centrepiece from eighteenth century Amsterdam.

Fairfax House York

The exhibition runs until 31st December 2006

This exhibition, curated by Fairfax House director Peter Brown, takes an in-depth look at English table glass of the eighteenth century. A remarkable array of salvers of jelly glasses, syllabubs and sweetmeats, as well as a wide range of drinking glasses, will all be on display.

For details telephone 01904 655543, or go to the Fairfax House website -

A 1770s sweetmeat glass containing a carved candied orange.

Sir Baptist Hick's Banquet

The table was laid out with English delftware with Venetian and Bohemian glass, much of it original.

The two banqueting houses which have survived at Old Campden House were built for the London mercer and moneylender Sir Baptist Hicks in 1613. They are currently managed by the Landmark Trust, so it is possible to stay in these wonderful buildings. The Landmark Trust is a charity that rescues and restores historically important buildings and gives them new life by offering them for holidays. The Trust also owns another banqueting house in which you can stay, at Gibside in Northumberland.

The layout of Sir Baptist Hick's house, garden and banqueting houses is very similar to this woodcut plan from William Lawson, A New Orchard and Garden (London: 1618).


Link back to Events Diary and News 2005/6

Chatsworth House - Great Chamber Buffet

Ivan will lead a tour of the Great Chamber Buffet and Dining Room on 9th May 2007

The beautiful paper flowers in this recreation of the Desportes buffet were made by Charlotte Hepworth and made up into garlands and swags by leading florist George Smith. The period food items were made by Ivan. Photo: Ivan Day

Replicas of baroque pies were made by Ivan from designs in Edward Kidder Receipts of Pastry and Cookery (London 1720) and Conrad Hagger Neues Saltzburgisches Koch-Buch (Augsburg 1719).

Harewood House - An Ice Cream Spectacular

Monday 28th May 2007

Food Historian Ivan Day will be making period ice creams all day long in the Old Kitchen at Harewood House on Bank Holiday Monday.

  • See the extraordinary period equipment and moulds being used.
  • Taste the remarkable ice cream flavours of the past.

Despite an improvement in the quality of British ice cream in the past few decades, it comes as a surprise to most of us that our favourite frozen dessert has seen even better days. Flavours in the paste were often more adventurous than those found in our trendiest restaurants - how about parmesan ice cream, burnt filbert parfait, punch water ice or Nesselrode Pudding, an elaborate moulded ice flavoured with chestnuts and maraschino.

Georgian and Victorian Ices were much creamier and more sophisticated than many of the ices that are served today.. For instance, when was the last time you were served ices like those above? These Victorian examples are not only more visually attractive than twenty first century examples, but have the most wonderful range of flavours. They were also made without the benefit of the electric freezer or any form of refrigeration. If you would like to see how ices were made in the past and sample some of the extraordinary range of flavours, don't miss this wonderful insight into our ancestors' culinary sophistication.

Visit the Harewood House Website

The World's First Marmalade Festival

Dalemain House, Cumbria

10th February 2008

The box of marmalade of oranges, made from a recipe included in Gervase Markham's The Countrey Farme (London:1616) is being entered by Ivan for the competition to find Britain's best marmalade. Find out more. See also Ivan's marmalade blog on Artisan Food.



Guided Victorian Christmas tours take place on Wednesdays to Sundays from 10am to 4pm (last tour 2.30pm) and cost £9.50 for adults, £7.10 for concessions and £4.80 for children under 16. They are free for English Heritage members and children under five. Booking is strongly recommended – call 01983 200022. Those taking tours can enjoy a walk in the grounds around the house. Osborne House Website.

A detail of Ivan's re-creation of an 1890s dessert in Queen Victoria's dining room at Osborne House. Note the two Minton dessert stands flanking the epergne. The Queen had a great liking for tablware manufactured by Minton and bought a number of pieces from them at the Great Exhibition in 1851. The confectionery and sweet entremets include darioles of nougat filled with Chantilly cream, moulded Queen Cakes, miniature bavaroises and a myriad sweetmeats made with original Victorian moulds. The epergne and dessert service are from the Osborne House collection and can normally be seen displayed in the Table Decker's Room below the dining room. On the sideboard, raised pies surround a traditional boar's head as they appeared in photographs taken at Osborne in the 1890s

A close-up of a Royal decanter and a Brunswick Star jelly. Note the darioles of nougat on the Minton dessert stand behind.

Ivan's attempt at re-creating Jules Gouffé's meringue timbale in the form of a beehive. This type of ornament doubled up as a cover for an ice cream or other sweet entremet. The bees are made from a pistachio nut for the body, a current for the head and almonds for the wings.


Van Pièce Montée tot Pêche Melba

(From Pièce Montée to Pêche Melba)

Kasteel van Gaasbeek, Gaasbeek near Brussels, Belgium

September 30 - November 26 2006

The Marchesa Arconati Visconti presides over a 'neo-gothic' feast in her 'neo-gothic' dining room. The table is dominated by a fountain complete with live goldfish. The authenticity of the medieval setting is belied by the presence of a baba au rhum, a popular entremet of the nineteenth century. This is a detail of a wall painting in the Marchesa's dining room.

The Marchesa was instrumental in restoring the Kasteel van Gaasbeek in the late nineteenth century. Her taste was focused very much on the gothic revival. She even invited friends to dinners where they were expected to dress up in medieval or renaissance costume, as in the painting illustrated above. Link to Kasteel van Gaasbeek website.

A corner of the castle dressed with Marcel Proust's madelaines.

An impressive Empire table laid out with a gilt bronze surtout de table.

Ivan's recreation of an Empire Dessert from the Bowes Museum is one of the main features of the Kasteel van Gaasbeek exhibition.

A corner of the Marchesa Arconati Visconti's neo-gothic kitchen.

The Glory of Glass Fairfax House York

A syrup pan full of carved "top oranges" being prepared in Ivan's kitchen. See them, together with other period confectionery, installed in superb Georgian sweetmeat glasses in The Glory of Glass at Fairfax House.

Favourite items for adorning the dessert were whole oranges and lemons, whose peel had been carved with intricate designs in the form of flowers, stars, borders "or any other fanciful ornament". All sorts of citrus fruits were decorated in this way, including Seville and China oranges, citrons, bergamots and green "baby" oranges and lemons, though these were apparently difficult to obtain in England, other than on estates with orangeries. An "orange cut in figures" was often given pride of place in a sweetmeat glass at the apex of a pyramid of salvers. As a result of this practice these "top glasses" were also known as "orange glasses", as mentioned in a glass dealer's advertisement of 1772, "Glass Salvers or Waiters chiefly from 9 to 13 inch, to be sold in Pyramids or Single, with Orange or Top Glasses". Top oranges were sometimes garnished with a coronet of sugar-preserved mustard sprigs, or candied pea pods, a decorative feature that dates from the seventeenth century. Hannah Wooley (1684), tells us that these were not eaten as, "they will look very finely, and are good to set forth at Banquets, but have no pleasant taste."

A pyramid of salvers or 'waiters' with a range of Georgian sweetmeat glasses, including rare flower glasses. The pyramid is surmounted by a 'top glass' containing a carved orange. See this spectacular display and much more at The Glory of Glass.


The Banqueting Houses at Old Campden House, Chipping Campden

8th - 10th September 2006

The East Banquetting House at Old Campden House, Chipping Campden, Gloustershire. For the first time since before the English Civil War, this wonderful building was used for its true purpose - as a venue for a banquet of early Jacobean sweetmeats. Using recipes from Gervase Markham (1615), Sir Hugh Platt (1600) and other 'books of secrets' from the period, Ivan prepared a typical range of 'banquetting stuffe' and 'ordered the table' in true Jacobean fashion. For two days visitors were treated to demonstrations of moulding marchpanes and other comfitmaker's skills and an extensive display of original Tudor and Jacobean printed and manuscript cookery texts.

Looking towards the West Banqueting House and the ruins of Sir Baptist Hick's country residence Old Campden House, destroyed by fire during the English Civil War. The raised walkways of the original gardens are visible. Their layout is remarkably similar to the woodcut in the opposite column. The vaulted basement of the West Banqueting House was almost certainly used as a still-house, which would agree with Lawson's 1618 scheme opposite. It contains two fireplaces, one with the remains of a small pastry oven. There is some evidence that this room was once panelled, which would agree with its polite usage, as the still-house was the realm of the gentlewoman of the house. Landmark Trust Website

Link back to Events Diary and News 2005/6

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