In browsing the minute books, which I've been doing over the last couple of weeks, I often run across little details (food related or otherwise) that warm my heart, such as:
-- "The School Master requested the usual allowance of one guinea for children's toys" (1800)
-- "On the 17th of October yearly [the children] have a holliday of roast beef and plumb pudding for dinner" (1758)
-- "Ordered that the children have a holliday on the first fine day of next week" (1797)
The consensus among historians is that the diet here was generally better than that of the parish workhouses, but, obviously, the provisions seem a lot more meagre than a lot of the material I've looked at. The first Sub-committee minute book stipulates that "the diet allowed ... be plain and simple, a small broth pottage and milk, meat and vegetables alternately, their bread coarse and their drink water."
Sounds pretty bare-bones. But check out this diet table; I found it in a book of miscellaneous documents dated between 1755 and 1762.
|Notice how "dinner" was constantly subject to revision|
Most distressing, however, is to find that the minute books are punctuated by things like this:
|Bill of Fare for The Trustees Anniversary Dinner: May, 1787|
On the menu: "Tonderoons de Veau" "Duckling Roast" and "Mock Turtle"
Dietaries and Bills of Fare are very good at showing what people were eating. But how were they eating? What did dining mean in this institution? That's up next.