In January we added an interesting nineteenth century manuscript recipe book to our Cookery Collection.  A signature dated 1824 inside the front cover shows that Nanny Clayton from Bierley in Bradford was the original owner.  Evidently religious, Nanny used the notebook to record extracts from the Bible which inspired her.

On 27 February 1829 Nanny married Benjamin Gummersall of Birstall in St. Peter’s Church, Bradford.  After her marriage Nanny turned the book upside down and back to front.  Signing it with her new name and place of residence, Dudley Hill, she began to write in it from what had previously been the back page.  Nanny saw her marriage as a new stage in her life and writings.

Her first entry was the ‘Christmas Hymn’ by the Reverend William Carus Wilson taken from the magazine ‘The Children’s Friend’.  Carus Wilson was the founder of the Clergy Daughters’ School at Cowan Bridge which the Brontë sisters attended.  He features in Charlotte Brontë’s novel ‘Jane Eyre’ as the overbearing head of Lowood School, Mr Brocklehurst.

The recipes in the notebook are in two different hands, neither of them Nanny’s.  Many are for cakes or buns so whoever recorded them seems to have had a sweet tooth!  The recipes include tipsy cake, lunch cake and raspberry buns.  The one recipe which Nanny probably wrote is on a loose scrap of paper and is a ‘Remedy for Ruhmatic’.

Pudding recipes from Nanny Gummersall’s manuscript notebook. Image credit Leeds University Library.

We have also added archives to the Theatre Company Blah, Blah, Blah Collection.  Set up in Harehills, Leeds, in 1985 the Blah’s are a Theatre in Education Company for children and young people.  The organisation offers interactive theatre sessions and workshops for schools which help children to develop their language and listening skills and to explore new ideas.

The Blah’s archive collection contains project files for teachers and production files.  There are many scripts including ones by well-known playwrights such as Mark Catley who has written for ‘Casualty’ and ‘Call the Midwife’, and Mike Kenny a leading writer in young people’s theatre.  Colourful publicity material includes posters and flyers.