Tuesday, 26 August 2014
Tredegar House - Downstairs
As I mentioned, one grand house blends into another without something special to see or some personality to remember. The downstairs portions of these places are fairly predictable as well, though I'm always open to being surprised. There was one house we visited on this same trip where the kitchen would have been the envy of most modern chefs if only for the architecture.
Otherwise the standard features include the bells that called the servants to the various rooms in the house. I never see these without thinking of Downton Abbey. (BTW, the next series of Downton Abbey is being filmed at Alnwick Castle, of Harry Potter fame. I'm looking forward to seeing if I recognise anything in common between the two films. Also, must find out how to visit inside Alnwick Castle, not just visit the gardens - it's not a National Trust Property. Have a feeling it might need to involve running their 10K race, but even that could be fun, exploring the grounds!)
There is almost always some sort of fake food around, hopefully to help children's imaginations. Everything I've read about living in grand houses is that the food was definitely not great. By the time it got transported from kitchen to dining room and served it was almost never hot. Which would help all those ladies stay skinny, right?
Better than the fake food, I love seeing the rows of copper pans. Those alone would cost a fortune, surely?
Of course there is always some hulking great stove - or two.
I am particularly fond of menus. Usually there are not a lot of things there I would be excited to eat, if I even knew what they were. I'm more intrigued by the idea of knowing how to make those things and to present them beautifully. One day I'll have to do a series on 'Master This Menu'. This is the menu for the Servant's Ball in 1921. Surely it must have been a buffet? One does find that there was an extraordinary amount of meat eaten back then, veggies being what poor folks could raise and eat. Also there seems to be a lot of desserts. My tummy hurts just reading the list, though I could fancy a bit of 'cream vanilla'.
Loved the art nouveau pattern on this platter. Art nouveau preceeded the inter-war years, but if anything I love it even better than art deco...
These 'jelly moulds' would likely have been as much for savory fare as for the gelatin and fruit concoctions I recall from my grade school days. Can't say I would be terribly excited about cold meat served up in cold gelatin. It wasn't until I moved to Britain, where vegetarians are quite common, that I realised gelatin was an animal product, even the stuff used to capture fruit. Doesn't bear thinking about, so I don't; I just eat it.
That is one of the things in my pantry shelves that needs 'used up', packets of gelatin. Can't wait to see the expression on Bill's face...