‘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 an Anglo-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 to Lewisham, South London and 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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Tinned Tomato Soup

This recipe is from Maimie’s book and is dated from March 1896, a year before her marriage. If there is a theme to this post as a whole it is that I consistently underestimate the Victorians and how they lived, ate, travelled and innovated. As with a recent post about pineapples, it came as a surprise to me that tinned food was so readily available at this time. It also came as a surprise to find out that Maimie’s travels were not restricted to jaunts around the Lake District…

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