Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Catholic Emancipation and the feast that followed

I am sorry to impose this on you in the season of Lent but this is a feast too good to hang on to....I have to share it!

The occasion? Following the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829 Sir Robert Throckmorton, a noted and prominent Catholic of Coughton Court, Warwickshire, became, in 1831, the first Catholic since the Reformation, to sign the Oath of Allegiance and to take his seat in the House of Commons as a Member of Parliament.

If ever an event called for a feast it was this one. It might be worth recounting just what Catholics had to put up with since the 17th Century. We were not allowed to vote, our churches could not be built near a main road but had to be accommodated down a side street, our land ownership attracted higher taxes than our Protestant countrymen and if anyone took a fancy to our horses, they could claim them as their own and we would have to hand them over without a quibble. The horse was, of course, more vital than a car in today's world so imagine someone walking up to you today and laying hold of the keys to your beloved BMW or Fiesta. You might be more than a little miffed!

So small wonder that the Throckmorton family rejoiced at this post Emancipation progress and invited the great and the good to join with them in a feast. The dining room at Coughton accommodates around twenty people, sadly, I have no information as to whom they were.

For the trenchermen amongst you, here is the menu of the day:-

Feast to celebrate Sir Robert Throckmorton’s
appointment in 1831 as the first Catholic Member
of Parliament since the Reformation


Asparagus Soup
Oxtail Soup
Salmon with lobster sauce
Fried filleted Soles


Lamb cutlets and Cucumber
Fricandeau of Veal
Lobster Pudding
Stewed Mushrooms
Saddle of Lamb
Braised Ham
Roast Veal


Charlotte Russe
Almond Cheesecake
Gooseberry Tart
Vanilla Cream

This all has a very solid 19th Century English cooking ring about it, nothing to excite the appetite too much in modern terms but, of course, at a time when there was no artificial refrigeration, the provision of ices (and fish) must have been quite challenging.


  1. I'm coming over for dinner. I'll bring a bottle or two of wine!


  2. You rotter. That's right in the face of my Lenten fast of (mostly vegetarian) uncooked food.
    Oh, hang on. Laetare Sunday coming up. I'll have the lot and a different wine for each course.
    Ay thenk yew.