‘Dear Althea’s recipe book’ – an inscription, probably written by her late husband, James. This is the oldest book, started in 1866.
‘Recipe book belonging to my grandmother, A N Harrison, Newby Bridge and mother M A M Fullmer, West Felton and Clifton Reynes.’ Inscription written by my grandmother, Marjorie Tingle (nee Fullmer).

Althea is my great-great grandmother, on my father’s side.

Althea Nona Maberly was born in 1845 in Owslebury, Hampshire. Her father, Charles Hensley Maberly, was the local vicar. Her mother Charlotte (née MacNaghten) was from a Scots-Irish family in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. Althea was the youngest of twelve children – and the ninth daughter. Remarkably, all twelve children lived well into adulthood.

When her father died in 1852, Althea moved with her mother, finally settling in Lewisham, South London. It was here, in 1866, that she married James Harrison. James was a barrister at Inner Temple, originally from Bury in Lancashire, where his father had made his money in textiles.

The couple moved to a grand house at the foot of Lake Windermere. They went on to have five children: Mary (‘known as ‘Maimie’), James, Edith, Charles and Edmund. Sadly, Edmund died aged only seven from a brain tumour.

At the time, Newby Bridge was in Lancashire, although it is now part of Cumbria. They rented Newby Bridge House, which became a hotel in the 1930s but which then was one of the first great houses to be built on the shores of Windermere. The couple were very much part of society, hosting local events, and attending everything from the races to flower shows and fishing committees.

Althea died from influenza in 1905, aged just 59. Her widower James lived for another twelve years.

Althea’s first recipe book began in 1866, the year of her marriage. A second book has contributions in from Althea and her daughter Maimie; some of the recipes are duplicated, which makes me wonder if Althea had copied out some of her favourites and gifted it to her daughter. Others were made after Althea’s death, so can be attributed to Maimie.

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Shrewsbury Cakes

This recipe can be found on page eight of Harriet’s recipe book, from 1902 or 1903. Before I say anything else, I am pleased to announce that they were delicious! Those of you who have followed this blog for a while will know that Harriet’s recipes have a tendency to turn out inedible – from the teeth-shattering Ginger Bread to the burnt mess of Lemon Cheesecakes. So, it was nice to finally cook something as moreish as these cakes. Although now we’re on the subject of form, aren’t they biscuits?…

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