Sincerely A. B. Marshall

Any history geek or culinary enthusiast worth their salt has of course heard of the cooking leviathan Mrs Isabella Beeton and her infamous Book of Household management, but she wasn’t as I’m sure you’ll all be surprised to know the only female entrepreneur in this particular arena at the time. The name Agnes Marshall I am sure probably means very little to you, but and here is the thing… it really should.

Agnes Bertha Marshall was born on the 24th August 1855 and lived to become an English culinary entrepreneur and one of the foremost cookery writers of the Victorian period. Not only was she this but was also a pioneer in terms of the home production of ice cream and frozen desserts, an endeavour which led to her being dubbed ‘Queen of Ices’. In the time before any form of practical domestic refrigeration techniques or indeed technology, her successes in this area quite dramatically, for an individual increased the demand in London for ice imported from Norway. Marshall’s 1888 cookery book contained what is possibly the earliest publication of a recipe for an edible ice cream cone ‘cornets with cream’, so we can all definitely thank her for that at least.

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So very little is known about Marshall’s early life with the exception that she was born in Walthanstow, her father one John Smith was a clerk he however died whilst she was still young and her mother remarried. It was also written later in her life in the Pall Mall Gazette however that Marshall was a student of the culinary arts from a young age and ‘practiced at Paris and with Vienna’s celebrated chefs’.

Over the course of her lifetime Marshall wrote four books Ices Plain and Fancy: The Book of Ices (1885), Mrs. A.B. Marshall’s Book of Cookery (1888), Mrs. A.B. Marshall’s Larger Cookery Book of Extra Recipes (1891) and Fancy Ices (1894). Marshall also gave numerous public lectures on cooking and ran a successful agency for domestic staff. She was also notably granted a patent for an improved ice cream machine that could freeze a pint of ice cream in five minutes, a quite remarkable feat for the time not only this but she suggested the use of liquid nitrogen in the making of ice cream, a practice which would not become common for around a decade later.

She and her husband established the prestigious Marshall School of Cookery in Mortimer Street in 1883 and also published a popular weekly magazine entitled, The Table, from 1886. This when she moved to London where she purchased the National Training School of Cookery from its owners, creating from it the aforementioned Marshall School of Cookery and building an impressive prestige and clientele. The later decades of the Victorian era saw the relatively modest beginnings of what would come to be termed domestic science and with its development the entrepreneurial Agnes Marshall boosted the schools number of pupils from a pitiful 40 within 2 years to thousands on numerous day to yearlong courses. Her pupil demographic was understandably extensive from those in domestic service sponsored by employers to aristocratic ladies who felt themselves in need of a suitable pastime. The curriculum taught was also revolutionary as it “offered specialty instruction in cooking, including lessons in curry from an English colonel who had served in India and classes in French haute cuisine taught by a Cordon Bleu graduate.”

Marshall also sold numerous culinary supplies such as leaf gelatine and equipment such as a surprisingly extensive range of jelly moulds, advertising such wares religiously in her recipes and in her books. Other such things sold were cutlery, cast-iron equipment, baking powder, flavourings, vegetable food colorants and by 1888 an edible ‘cornet a la crème’ an ice cream cone made from ground almonds. Not only this but with the eventual advent of a kitchen shop her students cuisine was sold directly to the general public.

Agnes Marshall’s lectures became legendary in her own time and she surprisingly had time (with all her other endeavours) to schedule six talks per week in Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow, Birmingham and Newcastle with her second tour visiting an additional 12 cities. Despite her live culinary demonstrations given on consecutive Saturdays in London sometimes drawing huge crowds and exceptionally complimentary reviews, Marshall found little success in the US despite her fame in Europe.

By the mid 1890’s Marshall began to decrease her workload from cooking, teaching, administration and writing to instigating Yule dinners and a system of winter soup kitchens for the growing percentage of Victorian poor.

Unfortunately after her death in 1905 just a month short of her 50th birthday, the rights to her books were sold to Mrs Beeton’s publisher, Ward Lock and her husband took control over the business that they had previously run together resulting ultimately in its failure. Marshall was just as popular, if not more so than Beeton in her day why then is her name not spoken with just as much frequency in the kitchens of amateur and professional cooks alike. In the late Victorian era the name A.B. Marshall could be seen everywhere but by the time of her tragic death she had sunk into relative obscurity with the destruction of her property and personal goods in a 1950’s fire further burying her extensive legacy which rivalled that of Beeton in the eyes of her contemporaries.

Marshall’s influence in her own time and for a while after her death was extensive however as she passionately denounced canned food and the often substandard meals provided on the railways, she also campaigned for greater year round availability of fresh produce and properly trained kitchen staff. Indeed it seems that she foresaw numerous reasonably modern developments within industry such as the expansion of automobile travel, fad diets, supermarkets, dishwashers, refrigerated transport, chemical purification of water and the popularization of freezers particularly and perhaps not surprisingly given her title in terms of ice cream.

And so it is that below I shall include an A. B. Marshall recipe in the hopes that perhaps you will cook it and thus remember a woman who was a not only a pioneer, but a pioneer in a time where women were still thought incapable of conducting business. This seemingly unknown figure in my opinion deserve the same status as Mrs Isabella Beeton, so its Mrs Agnes Marshall cook, lecturer, business owner, writer, inventor, campaigner, charity worker and pioneer, got it… good!

Albert Pudding

‘Put a quarter of a pound of fresh butter into a basin, and work it with a wooden spoon till quite white like cream; add a saltspoonful of ground ginger, the finely-chopped peel of two lemons, a teaspoonful of vanilla essence, and three ounces of castor sugar; mix these together for a few minutes, then add two ounces of finely-sifted flour, two ounces of ratafia biscuit crumbs, the raw yolks of four eggs, half a wineglassful of brandy or liqueur, and colour a pale salmon colour with Marshall’s Liquid Carmine; then add the eighth of an ounce of Cowan’s Baking Powder, whip five whites of eggs to a stiff froth and mix with the other ingredients. Butter a plain mould, dust it over with dried cocoanut and ratafia crumbs; then fill it with the mixture, and let the pudding steam for eighty minutes; when cooked turn it out on to a hot dish, and serve at once with Apricot sauce or Albert sauce round the base.’

Mrs A. B. Marshall’s Larger Cookery Book Of Extra Recipes – I have made this recipe before and it is quite yummy… watch out for the kick of brandy though it’s quite severe.

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Superfortress ‘Over Exposed’ – The Remnants Dark Peak

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Ok, sorry for the time it has taken me to complete this article however I believe it has been worth the time and effort. So on the 2nd of April me and my dad ventured out it utterly glorious weather to search on the Derbyshire Moors for a crash site…

On Bleaklow Moor there is scattered the remains of an American WW2 Superfortress bomber, it is indeed a poignant place to visit as much of the wreckage is still visible. This Superfortress was not your standard B29 bomber but instead was an B-29 photographic reconnaissance aircraft. Not long at all after the end of WW2 the Soviet Union blockaded off the Allies road, rail and canal access to Western Berlin (one of the first major instances of the Cold War), with the proviso that the blockades would be lifted if the newly introduced Deutschmark was withdrawn from Western Berlin. In response to this it was necessary for the allies to air drop supplies to the citizens of Western Berlin hence the now famous Berlin Airdrop which continued from June 1948 until the 12th May 1949 and which our aforementioned Superfortress was involved.

Piece of Wreckage

During WW2 many nations took to naming their aircraft, this B-29 which was a part of USAF’s 16th Photographic Reconnaissance Squadron was no exception, and was aptly named ‘Overexposed’. At the time of her tragic crash, she and her squadron were based at RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, however she had already flown many miles and had an eventful life by this point in her service. This B-29 was one of three which ordered to accompany, the B29 Superfortress that had been tasked with the deployment of the ‘Able’ atomic bomb at Bikini Atoll (in the Pacific) in 1946.

Due to the diminutive American presence at American Logistics base Burtonwood, all the mail and pay packets destined for these squadrons was delivered to RAF Scampton, this meant there had to be regular collection and resupply flights between these military bases. Also sacks of mail bound for the states were loaded in. The Superfortress ‘Overexposed’ was on the 3rd November 1948 tasked with just such a flight, for such a mission only minimum flight crew was required however some American personnel chose to go, as the American base at Burtonwood provided the opportunity for the acquiring of some creature comforts, this brought the number of crew members up to 13. It was only a 25 minute flight away which the pilot may have made before, so to the personnel aboard the flight must have seemed to have little risk attached to it.

At about 10.15 on the morning of the 3rd of November, the pilot of B-29 Superfortress ‘Overexposed’ filed his Visual Flight Record with Flight Control for what was supposed to be a simple routine flight.

The November weather the day of the flight was not good and the cloud level was lower than 2000 feet with visibility being four to six miles. It was 11.15 am when the B-29 Superfortress flew across the moor not far from Burtonwood final approach basically at ground level. It is unclear why Captain Landon Tanner flew into the ground a couple of hundred yards from the highest point of Bleaklow (approximately 2077 feet).

An Engine

It should be noted that Captain Tanner had no notable reason for being below 2000 feet, as he was still just a few minutes under ten minutes away from Burtonwood. The facts remain his maps would clearly show him the high ground he was flying over, he had been informed of how low the cloud base was (from his pre-flight meteorological reports at Scampton and from communications via radio from Burtonwood). It was just a 25 minute trip from Scampton to Burtonwood in a B-29.

It is perfectly acceptable to believe that the adverse weather conditions effected the navigator’s calculations on the aircrafts position significantly, resulting in them thinking they were a lot closer to Burtonwood than they were in reality.

Captain Tanner’s crew for the trip consisted of co-pilot – Captain Harry Stroud, engineer – Technical Sergeant Ralph Fields, radio operator – Staff Sergeant Gene A Gartner, navigator – Sergeant Charles Wilbanks, radar operator – David D Moore, camera crew – Technical sergeant Saul R Banks, Sergeant Donald R Abrogast, Sergeant Robert I Doyle and Private First Class William M Burrows. Two more crew members were Corporal George Ingram, Corporal M Franssen and acting photographic advisor Captain Howard Keel of the 4201st Motion Picture Unit.

A Memorial

When ‘Over Exposed’ failed to arrive at Burtonwood an air search was initiated, and the Superfortress’s blazing wreckage was spotted that afternoon. By chance Members of the Harpur Hill RAF Mountain Rescue Unit had just completed an exercise two and a half miles away, on their radio they picked up the messages that were being broadcast by the search aircraft. They checked the map reference and Flight Sergeant George Thompson and Corporal William Duthie both noted their proximity to the crash site and ordered their men approach the site and search from one side, whilst they started the search from Doctor’s Gate. Poor visibility prevented them from seeing the aircraft at first, but after 20 minutes they spotted the Superfortress’s tailfin and the fires blazing around it. Several bodies were scattered around the remains of the plain, Harpur Hill RAF Mountain Rescue could do nothing for them so they went back to their vehicle, so they could guide the Glossop firemen to the wreckage which was spread for a quarter of a mile across the moor. An extensive search was made for survivors, none were found and only eight bodies were located. The next morning around fifty men set off across the moor towards the downed aircraft, it was two hours before they saw the tailfin. They scoured the moor for the missing personnel, eventually all the bodies were discovered, scrambling about the wreckage an American Officer found a satchel containing £7000, part of the payroll.

Wreckage

Ted Ward a member of the RAF Mountain Rescue Team for Harpur Hill recalled: –

The first piece of wreckage that I came across was the nose wheel, followed after some 200 hundred yards by the tail unit.

Ted Ward was also close by when the remaining four bodies were found:-

I was within two or three yards when the remaining four were found, unfortunately they were burned beyond recognition.

The crew of ‘Over Exposed’ had completed their required service in Britain and were due to return home to the states in 3 days.

The Wreckage has been surrounded by many memorial crosses.

The Wreckage has been surrounded by many memorial crosses.

One visitor to this incredible site found a wedding ring belonging to one of the crew members and endeavoured to find its rightful owner, needless to say he succeeded and a local paper wanted to report on it. So he and the papers photographer ventured onto the moors and he stood in front of the wreckage for a photograph. The next thing this visitor knew the photographer was ‘legging it’ across the moor, when he finally caught up he asked the photographer why he had run. The photographer told him that when he had looked through the cameras lens to take a photograph, all of the Superfortress’s crew were stood around him.

I will state here that neither I nor my dad experienced anything like this whilst at the site, however it is certainly a sombre place and we left thoughtful.

If you want to know more about Superfortress ‘Over Exposed’ and other crash sites on Dark Peak. I whole heartedly recommend Dark Peak Aircraft Wrecks 1 by Ron Collier and Roni Wilkinson. If you do visit please do not disturb the wreckage as it stands testament and in memorial to the men that lost their lives there.

I may do another post on this subject, however now it really is exam season and so there may not be any posts for awhile.

All that roams there now is nature.

All that roams there now is nature.

Unsung Documenter: Henrietta Maria Queen Of England

Henrietta Maria of France, Painted By Anthony Van Dyke

Henrietta Maria of France, Painted By Anthony Van Dyke

 

Much has been written about the English Civil Wars, with many author’s being contemporary to the conflict, however some of these author’s I believe deserve more recognition as they provide unique insights into a horrific conflict through which they survived to ‘tell the tale’. Henrietta Maria can be considered a less well known Queen of England, this in all probability a consequence of the Civil Wars, the execution of her husband Charles 1 and her subsequent exile to France. Henrietta’s strong views on religion and the absolute power of the king, who is anointed by God, meant that by 1642 she was an extremely unpopular monarch, not only because she was foreign and therefore distrusted, but because she had the ear of the king and was thus perfectly placed to influence him. Henrietta remained ever faithful to her religion and thus remained sympathetic to her fellow Catholics and as a result of gestures such as the construction of a Catholic chapel at Somerset House in 1632, it can clearly be seen that the Queen was not concerned with cultivating good will towards herself from her subjects. The Chapel was extremely unpopular amongst the local protestant community, and it is rumoured that London apprentices even considered destroying it as an anti-Catholic expression. The Chapel although fairly non-descript externally, was extremely elaborate internally this combined with its opening being a grand ceremony, mortified and alarmed local Protestants. Henrietta seemed determined to again cultivate a more open Catholic community in England; this led to many Catholics being more open about their Catholicism in court discussion and prevalent in court as a denomination. Because of this blatant publicising of the Catholic faith king Charles 1 came under criticism for his failure to prevent several high profile conversions to the Catholic faith. Henrietta was even so bold as to hold a requiem mass for high profile priest Father Richard Blount in her private chapel in the year of his death 1638. Perhaps her most scandalous escapades from the Puritans perspective however were her several roles in masque plays, in which she chose roles to further the development the Catholic community in England and promote ecumenism. Hatred towards Henrietta reached a crisis point in the 1630’s; this was only enflamed with the punishments devised for those that openly criticised her. In 1630 for example a Scottish doctor by the name of Alexander Leighton, was flogged, branded, mutilated and imprisoned for life for being the author of a pamphlet which denounced Henrietta. Even the popular puritan lawyer William Prynne had his ears cut off in the late 1630’s for questioning the integrity of women actresses and subsequently writing of this opinion, this was seen at the time as a clear insult to Henrietta. Much of London society would later blame Henrietta for the Irish rebellion of 1641, which was in reality coordinated by Jesuits, who in public imagination Henrietta was linked to. In 1641 an alliance of Parliamentarians under John Pym attempted to use Henrietta as a way of placing pressure on Charles 1. A list of grievances called the Grand Remonstrance which was passed near the end of 1641, referred to and condemned to a Roman Catholic conspiracy, although not mentioned by name it was clear to all that Henrietta was involved. This contributed to the fleeing of her confidant Henry Jermyn to the Continent, Jermyn’s involvement in the First Army Plot of 1641 also forced him to flee after its discovery. It is believed that Henrietta encouraged Charles to arrest his parliamentary opposition in January 1642. The French ambassador, Marquis de La Ferte-Imbault advised reconciliation with Pym and cautious observation to ensure no further plots. Pym and his colleagues arrest was unsuccessful, it is thought as a result of a leak of secret information from Henrietta’s former confidant Lucy Hay. In an attempt to defuse tension in society caused by her open Catholicism and her influence over the king, the retreat was also allowed for the queen’s personal safety Henrietta retreated to The Hague.

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Henrietta was still at The Hague in August 1642 when the Civil War began, she attempted to raise money for the Royalist cause, by selling off the Royal jewels and attempting to persuade the King of Denmark and Prince of Orange to offer their support to Charles’ cause. For this she was portrayed in the English press as selling off the crown jewels to foreigners in exchanged for guns to resolve a religious conflict, adding to her infamy. During this time Henrietta urged Charles to secure the strategic port of Hull at the earliest opportunity.

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Henrietta attempted to return to England at the beginning of 1643, unfortunately severe weather conditions forced her ship to return to Port, Henrietta made the most of this delay by convincing the Dutch to release a ship of armaments for the King, which had been held at the request of Parliament. In defiance of the advice given by her astrologers who foresaw disaster, she attempted the journey again at the end of February; she evaded the Parliamentarian navy to find harbour at Bridlington in Yorkshire. Unfortunately the pursuing navy then bombarded the town, thus forcing the Royalists to shelter in nearby fields, however whilst still under fire Henrietta returned to the town to recover her dog Mitte who had been neglected by her staff. Whilst stopping in York she was entertained by the Earl of Newcastle, she took the opportunity discuss situations North of the border with Royalist Scots, she promoted Montrose and others plans for an uprising. Henrietta also supported many other controversial schemes such as the earl of Antrim’s proposition to settle the rebellions in Ireland and thus bring forces to support the king in England, the queen refused to support anything other than total victory for royalist forces. She was asked on many occasions by both Pym and Hampden to use her influence over the king to force the making of a peace treaty, each time she flatly refused. Perhaps in retaliation parliament voted the destruction of her own private chapel at Somerset House. In March the chapel was razed by the parliamentarians Henry Marten and John Clotworthy, the altarpiece by Ruben’s was destroyed, the many religious idols fragmented and the Queens religious vestments, books and artworks burnt to a cinder and the Capuchin friars responsible for maintaining the chapel arrested.

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Despite this loss Henrietta travelled south and rendezvoused with Charles at Kineton before traveling to the Royalist capital of Oxford through the Midlands an area continuously contested by both parties.

We cannot doubt the Queens courage, but perhaps her most endearing quality to me is her avid correspondence writing and the true grit she expresses through every sentence. She is no doubt an unsung documenter of one of the most tumultuous times in history.