Welcome to my Dewsbury area blog
Although I’m originally a Yorkshire lass, my interest in Dewsbury’s history didn’t start until I procured 2 volumes of handwritten recipes from ebay.
I’d bought these because of an interest in the history of food, but it quickly became obvious that I had in my possession a rich and detailed historical resource.
The volumes were written by M Kirk, but as she had accredited and dated her recipes, I was able to discover that she was a young Victorian girl called Minnie from Dewsbury, whose father was an architect and who was to marry the son of a mill owner.
My researches have lead me from mungo and shoddy, to coal mines, anti-vaccinationists, mansions and back-to-backs, diseases, war and much more.
I have discovered on the internet that many people are interested in this area, and that there are some excellent web sites. I’m aware that any one person can only have part of the picture of this vast subject, so I hope that this will be a collaborative blog, and I really welcome your memories and stories.

Minnie’s Recipe Books


Minnie’s recipes are in two volumes. They are handwritten in hard-back exercise books. Both books are full, so there could be a third volume, or more, which have been lost. Minnie starts her collection of recipes on March 27th 1889 when she was 20 years old, and her last recipes are in 1896. She married George Finney Blakeley in 1894, so that she started her book when she lived at home with her parents and two sisters, and continued after she was married.
There are a total of 420 pages packed with 742 recipes, all numbered and indexed so that I haven’t had to count them. There is no sorting of the recipes into categories, except in the index which is alphabetical. She seems to have placed them in chronological order of receiving them, although there are some discrepancies, perhaps suggesting that she came back to squash recipes into unfilled spaces.
I have been able to trace her family tree from entries such as ‘Grandmama Hemingway’s recipe’ and ‘Aunt Ridley’s recipe’. She has copied many recipes from journals such as ‘Girl’s Own Paper’ and ‘The Queen, The Lady’s Newspaper’, so that I am also able to look at what she was reading.

Grandmamma Hemingway's recipes


Have a look at my posts.

2 thoughts on “About”

  1. I am so very touched by your story. My house is filled with antiques and I love old cook books but never thought of looking for handwritten, personal ones (and never came across any for that matter) — probably the most common kind for centuries… It must feel so intimate to remake these recipes after so many decades. And it is such a beautiful tribute to Minnie and her life that her recipes are still alive today, in your hands and enjoyed by your friends & family. This truly resonates with the kind of cooking and eating I want to live by. Thank you for writing about this.

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Dewsbury history from a Victorian handwritten recipe book