Recycling Georgian-style

16 Aug
The mortar at the back door of Wordsworth House

Pre 2004: The mortar at the back door of Wordsworth House

The mortar back in the kitchen

After 2004: The mortar back in the kitchen with a pestle

Amanda was looking through our photo archive the other day and spotted something intriguing. In an old image of the back door of Wordsworth House, there was the mortar from our 18th-century kitchen doing duty as a plant pot!

We knew it was found in the garden by food historian Peter Brears and brought indoors, as part of our 2004 renovation, to return to its original purpose, but we didn’t realise we had a picture of it in its ‘other’ life.

The Georgians were very keen on recycling – they reused everything from tea leaves to hair, teeth and the contents of their chamber pots – so the Wordsworths would probably have approved of the fact that our mortar has had more than one career.

Well-to-do Georgians also filled their kitchens with early labour saving devices, such as the amazing smoke jack that used convection currents to turn meats roasting in front of the fire.

The giant pestle that goes with our huge mortar was another of these – it’s attached to the wall by a metal loop, so rather than using lots of energy to pound your oats for making clapbread and other recipes, you merely had to roll the handle between your thumb and first finger to grind them down to the required size.

Our fabulous working kitchen is hands-on, so if you come to visit have a go and see for yourself how easy it is! And ask the costumed servants about 18th-century recycling – they’ll tell you stories to make your toes curl.

Oh and don’t forget to look in your own garden and see if you have any historic artefacts masquerading as planters.

Hands on: Our working 18th-century kitchen

Hands on: Our working 18th-century kitchen

2 Responses to “Recycling Georgian-style”

  1. Penny Cunningham August 29, 2012 at 10:34 am #

    We were there in June, and I have to say I was really impressed with the volunteers on duty that day. Amy in the Kitchen was a mine of information as well as being very friendly and cheerful! There was a man upstairs in the drawing room I think who told us all about the harpsichord and had a long chat with my husband (who is a chimney sweep) and always interested in the chimneys of places that we go to!!!
    In fact everyone was extremely kind and informative and If I lived anywhere near you I would there at your door.

  2. Fletch the perchcrow August 29, 2012 at 11:13 am #

    Our volunteers are truly amazing – really lovely people! Fletch x

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