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A facsimile reproduction of a Victorian Recipe Book: A Handwritten Book of Family Receipts (Recipe Book) started by Mrs C. A. Allott of Sheffield, (England), 1860.

Cover for A facsimile reproduction of Victorian Recipe Book: A Handwritten Book of Family Receipts started by Mrs C. A. Allott of Sheffield, (England), 1860

Taste the past at Mary Allott’s Table

Immerse yourself in middle-class Victorian England with Mary Allott’s meticulously kept recipe book. Compiled amidst the turmoil of a life challenged by the abandonment of her spouse, this collection stands as a beacon of Mary’s inner fortitude as she expressed her creativity and dedicated herself to her family’s nourishment and well-being.

Born in 1833 in the town of Chesterfield, Derbyshire, the hardship of an unhappy marriage in Sheffield marked Mary’s life as her husband’s reckless actions threatened the stability of their home. Despite immoral conduct and desertion, Mary found purpose in the pages of her household receipts, and created a legacy for future generations.

Now, for the first time, this facsimile of a primary historical source offers a rare, unfiltered look at 19th-century recipes, invites historians, genealogists and culinary enthusiasts to explore the flavours of the Victorian age. Through the replication of Mary’s original recipes, you can connect with the past in the most intimate way—through the ingredients and aromas that once filled Mary’s kitchen.

As we await the publication of Mary Allot’s biography, this recipe book stands as a monument to Mary’s enduring spirit, a celebration of her newfound independence, and her late-life romance with James Parke

Who was Mrs C. A. Allott?

Mary Allott née Hopkinson (1833–1912) was an Englishwoman born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire. She grew up in Sheffield and died in Upwell, Cambridgeshire. Mary started compiling this Victorian recipe book when she was twenty-seven years old. She was an educated woman who grew up in a comfortable home. Yet her first husband Charles’ behaviour threatened her health and her sanity and jeopardised the life and well-being of their children.

In 1859, a week before the birth of their second child, Charles left for New Zealand. Before he sailed, he gave their firstborn, William, to Mary’s mother-in-law to raise. Charles moved from New Zealand to Australia in 1861, but three months later, he was back in Sheffield. He returned to Australia in 1866. Mary filed for divorce in 1873 on the grounds of desertion and her husband’s adultery with a prostitute in 1858 and 1863 (as a result of which he had contracted a venereal disease). Charles did not contest the petition, but the divorce court at Westminster dismissed it in 1875, when the judge ‘expressed a hope that it was not yet impossible for the parties to come together again’.

Charles visited England in 1880, but two years later, he moved to Australia permanently. Mary went south to Upwell to look after son William and her grandchildren following the death of her daughter-in-law in 1903. Here, Mary, a financially independent woman, fell in love with James Parker, a builder twelve years her junior. Charles appears to have died in Australia in 1906, leaving Mary free to marry James at the age of seventy-three.

A book about Mary will be published at a later date.

Why publish a facsimile of this family recipe book?

One of the most important parts of historical research is looking at primary sources, which we can use to interpret the past and draw conclusions. Primary source research has never been easy, especially when we are researching our female ancestors. Accessing sources in private collections or scattered archives can be challenging. However, a facsimile edition (that is, one that attempts to represent the original as closely as possible) can be a valuable resource for family, social and local historians.

It therefore gives me great pleasure to share with you a facsimile of a Victorian relative’s recipe book.

You can buy an eBook, paperback, or hardback copy of A facsimile reproduction of a Victorian Recipe Book: A Handwritten Book of Family Receipts started by Mrs C. A. Allott of Sheffield, (England), 1860 in the shop here.

A facsimile reproduction of a Victorian Recipe Book: A Handwritten Book of Family Receipts (Recipe Book) started by Mrs C. A. Allott of Sheffield, (England), 1860.

With grateful thanks to cousin Susan Oldroyd née Parker. Sue holds the original book on behalf of her descendants.

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