The English Civil War rage throughout Britain during the period of 1641 to 1651 between the Parliamentarians (Roundheads) and the Royalists (Cavaliers), pitting family members against each other, the rule of law as it existed at the time being dismissed. Many lost their land, their title and suffered severe hardship. Many paid dearly with their lives for supporting one side or the other.
Lucy Moore, with Lady Fanshawe’s Receipt Book offers a window into what happened when war broke out and families had to regroup, to walk off their land, often having to find other places to safely live. Despite the dire conditions daily life still continued with the entire trauma that it bought, particularly in Anne Fanshawe’s situation, as her beloved husband Richard was a Royalist Diplomat, dedicated to restoration of the Stuart Monarchy; a situation which placed them all in great jeopardy for the years of the war.
Receipt books were written in the form of a diary, noting down the many aspect of daily life, often begun when as young women they were expected to marry and be able to run an excellent household. This was particularly significant in families of money or influence, with many Receipt Books being handed down to the oldest daughter.
These books were considered as treasures, hugely significant and an item to be kept close and treasured. These books contained recipes, household hints, tips handed down from mother to daughter on all aspects of child bearing, illness, health, and life, death and marriage.
Anne Fanshawe, in her receipt book keeps a detailed history of her life as it changed from Landed Gentry in the service of the King, to one of severe hardship, danger and troubles; but she also noted down the pleasures of everyday life, her great love of her husband and his for her, snippets of poetry, and small sketches, often with joy and many other times with a worldly acceptance of the times and the issues.
She was to lose all but one of her children; therefor her book was handed down the line through her only surviving son, to eventually become a component of a research project carried out by Lucy Moore some 400 years later.
The work is a wonderful warm understanding of how tenuous life could be, how tired Ann became of the constant uncertainly as to whether her beloved Richard was still alive when he was away on the Kings business and the discovery at the end of the War, that politics is a fickle bedfellow and as corrupt if not more so than it ever was before the uprising. This must have seemed like a cruel jest as well as a death blow to the loyal family.
A wonderful collection of photographs included in the book show Ann, in 1644, aged about 19 years, at the time of her wedding, Richard in 1643, as a member of the Kings cabinet, as well as portraits of three of their older children, which adds a very personal element to their story and one that would have been very familiar to many others.
For anyone who has a passing interest in history and the people who created it, Lady Fanshawe’s Receipt Book is a must read as it offers in first hand detail, another aspect of life lived in times of great trouble, political uncertainty and revolution during the 1600’s.
This work also shows a different aspect of the daily lives of women during this time in British History when they had more power, education and social standing than the many that were to follow after them.
|Distributor||Allen and Unwin|