The Gascoignes :: Part Seven, Party Time!

Christmas circa 1850's

The header picture is just an idea of what a party may have been like in the 19th century. A fellow researcher, Pauline Robson, recently sifted through the West Yorkshire Archives of the Gascoigne Papers and amongst the Housekeeper accounts she extracted the details of the food consumed and numbers of persons dining, for both Christmas 1850 and 1858. She has kindly allowed me to publish her findings here.

From 16 to 30 December 1850 [15 Days]

Food Items Quantity Cost in £ s d
Beef and veal 654 lbs  
Sheep 297 lbs  
  Sub Total £6 11s 1d
Turkeys 3 15s 0d
Fowls 8 10s 0d
Hams   12s 0d
Eggs 12 score 12s 0d
  Sub Total £2 9s 0d
Hare   2s 6d
Pheasants 5 15s 0d
Other Payments    
Butcher's book   £15 1s 1d
Grocer's book   £4 17s 6d
Fish book   £1 10s 0d
Farm meat   £6 11s 1d
Game   17s 6d
Poultry   £2 9s 0d
  Total £31 6s 2d
Number of persons dining over this period
Parlour 57 av 3.80 per day
Servants hall 416 av 27.73 per day
Visitors 154 av 10.26 per day

From 15 to 31 December 1858 [17 Days]

Food Items Quantity Cost in £ s d
Hares   8s 0d
Pheasants   12s 0d
Partridge   2s 0d
Woodcock   2s 0d
Plover   2s 6d
Pigeons   1s 0d
Wild Duck   2s 6d
Butcher   £20 8s 6d
Wilkinsons   12s 7d
Fishmonger   1s 2d
Poultry Yard   £1 13s 0d
Game   £1 10s 0d
  Total £25 6s 11d
Number of persons dining over this period
Parlour 88 av 5.17 per day
Servants hall 391 av 23 per day
Visitors 41 av 2.41 per day

The two periods examined are different if only because in 1850 the Christmas period followed closely the wedding of Isabella and Frederick in the September. The first item of beef represents 43.60lbs per day, which is more than a pound per day, regardless of station, of each member of the household.

However the number of guests relative to the members of the household is significant being 3 to 1 or on average 10+ guests each day of the period analysed. These days people are glad to see their relatives disappear down the drive at the end of the day! Another revalation is the shear variety of produce, Woodcock... when was the last time you had that! As for the Plover, these days you might fall foul of the RSPB, pun intended.

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The foregoing narrative from the Skyrack Courier is just so informative of the time, that I had to transcribe it all, for you, the readers to appreciate!

Particularly interesting is that Colonel Gascoigne, [Richard, that is, living at Lotherton] was able to accommodate around 100 Territorials in the Old Hall, that's a lot of people, and no mention of whether the scouts stayed over as well!

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