Sunday, May 16, 2021

Jenny's Rose Water Recipe


Hello my Dear Friends,

I remain at The Chestnuts, Mr. Penn’s home, looking after Old Mary. You will be happy to know Old Mary has made progress. Dr. Woodforde has been to visit these past few days and tells me the danger is past and Old Mary is becoming well again. I know you join me all in giving thanks that our prayers have been answered. Old Mary is still frail but her smile is a welcome sight after so many weeks.

Mr. Penn is kind enough to sit with Old Mary, from time to time, urging me to go and take exercise. The vista from Old Mary’s window is inviting; I have enjoyed my free time walking around the grounds, exploring the various gardens and wooded areas. Mr. Penn’s rose garden is particularly beautiful, especially now the roses are all beginning to bloom. My gracious host has given me leave to cut flowers for Old Mary’s room and also to use the roses to make rose water for our wash basins. He is a kind man, and a good friend to Old Mary, seeing to her every need.

As I was preparing the rose water, I thought you may benefit from my recipe to make your own; I share my recipe here for you to add to your home book.

Jenny’s Rose Water Recipe

Gather your roses early in the morning on a fine day, just after the dew has dried, for they are most fragrant then. Remove the petals carefully, discarding the stems, leaves and core of the flower. Use a vessel made of pottery rather than an iron pot, for it will give you a sweeter water. Once you have placed the petals in the vessel, add enough water to cover them and let the pot simmer until it comes to the boil. Move it from the hottest area of the fire and let it simmer gently for five minutes. Strain off the liquid, let it cool, then store it in glass jugs which are tightly covered. This will make your morning wash all the sweeter.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

A Letter from Hetty Thorne


Dear Mother,

Thank you ever so much for your letter and for including the receipt for your special cake. I have baked it twice now and it was very well received when the ladies came to our at home. Alice and I do well and are looking forward to warmer days; it has been a particularly cold winter. Spring is coming to us slowly with frosty mornings but the trees are in blossom and the spring flowers do cheer us.

There is a young man in the village who has been paying his attentions to Alice. Alice does not see it but thinks he is just being cordial to her. At the last assembly he danced twice with Alice. His name is Mr. Heath Canfield, he is the son of the family who own and run the Amberleigh Candle Works and has just returned from his grand tour. I have made his acquaintance, he is well educated, having attended Eton, has pretty manners and is handsome, being tall with light brown hair, dark eyes and a small cleft in his chin. His cousin, Miss Pringle and I, believe his has fixed his gaze on Alice. I do hope it shall blossom into a romance for Alice. She is only one and twenty but despairs she will never marry and have the family she so desires. She misses William dearly, writing to him at least once a week even though she has had not a word from him in many months now. There is war in Corsica as you must know and William is most assuredly there in the midst of it. We have said many prayers for William and his shipmates, praying they all return home safely.

Our dear friend Old Mary is still quite ill. The doctors ask us not to call upon her so she may rest and recover better. Alice and I have been tending her garden while she ails. It would be a shame to let it go to weeds while she is abed with illness. Alice and I have enjoyed our days working in Old Mary’s garden and know she will be pleased when she returns and sees it has been cared for in her absence.

Mrs. Medlyn, Susan, whom I have mentioned previously is hosting a quilting bee for the ladies of the parish to make quilts for those in need. Susan is a kind woman, we like her very well. Young Mary grows and is a pretty baby. Tis sad she shall never know her mother, but Susan dotes upon her and she could not ask for a kinder, more loving person to look after her in her late mother’s stead. Susan tells us we are to have another curate in the parish in a month or two. Mr. Thomas has received the living of Rushton as well as Amberliegh and Constance and will appreciate the help.

My netted goods are still in demand, adding to our living fund. Between Alice’s lace and my netted gloves and bags we have been able to put extra coins in our fund for next winter so we may have enough wood. William has paid our rent for the entire year out of his prize money which gives us the opportunity to supplement the house fund with our own money. We live comfortably and amiably. Alice and I get on very well.

Alice and I continue to dust the church each Monday as part of our tithe. We enjoy the work and are happy to do this service for the church. Alice had been doing it on her own when I arrived, but tis a job more suited for two. At times we sing hymns while we work, tis a lovely sound in the church when all is quiet save us two.

I’ve planted seedlings in our garden and have them under cloches while there is still chance of frost. Our garden was very productive last year and I hope to make it more efficient this year. We’ve talked about adding a wider variety of vegetables and have considered having a pear tree also. You know I like working in the garden, it is a joy to me to bring our vegetables forth. I would be happy if you would send a cutting from the pear tree in your garden that we may plant. I know it would flourish here.

I send my best wishes to you and father and hope you will remember me to my sister and brother and their families.

I remain your devoted daughter,


Sunday, May 2, 2021

A May Day Celebration

 May Day

The bells of St. Hildegard’s rang out early yesterday morning in celebration of May Day in the parish. The sun shone bright, the day fair, making for a cheerful atmosphere among the people of the village.

The ladies had been very busy indeed making things ready for the day. There were tables set up for the luncheon feast, buntings and festoons of spring flowers lending a colourful background. The men had erected a small dais, complete with throne upon which the May Queen would preside. Flowers and sprigs of leaves adorned the thrown, softening its appearance.

When the villagers began wandering down to the glebe for the day’s festivities, all were in high spirits, calling hellos to their friends and neighbours. The children were especially eager for the day to begin, for in addition to the May Baskets of flowers for the ladies, there would be May Day cakes for the children.

Mr. Penn called all to order to announce our May Queen for the Day was Miss Fiona Broome. She shyly went to the dais where the children crowned her with a ring of flowers and bay leaves. Holding up her sceptre, she called for the feast to begin. During lunch she smiled prettily at those raising their glass to toast her reign. There was much talk and laughter as all enjoyed the food which was supplied by the good wives of the parish and supplemented by the beneficent Lady Caroline. There were toasts all around to those who had made such a day possible, and special thank you to Eva Broome who had made the May Day Cakes for the children.

After lunch was the dancing around the Maypole. The children happily held their ribbons as they skipped in time with the music, carefully weaving in and around one another until their ribbons were neatly plaited on the pole. For their efforts, each child was given their May Day cake bringing smiles to them all.

The Morris Dancers were in attendance, delighting the people with there intricate steps and tapping of sticks, the bells they wore jingling as they danced. The children watched in wonder as the dancers kept time with one another, all in step.

Later in the afternoon a quartet of musicians began to play and the dancing for all commenced. It was an afternoon of light-hearted fun for young and old alike, a day to mark the warmer longer days of Spring and the return of the sun’s warmth.

Foraging with Old Mary

  Hello, My Dears, As you know, I like nothing better than to meander around the Ackley Wood, foraging for herbs and wild flowers to use i...