To Roast a Shoulder of Mutton with Oysters (1707)

Felbrig Kitchen

Kitchen at Felbrigg Hall

Here’s a recipe from Katherine Windham’s ‘A Booke of Cookery & Housekeeping’ of 1707. The original was preserved for centuries at Felbrigg Hall and is now in the Norfolk County Archives. Over the past two years, it has been lovingly transcribed by my friends and fellow Felbrigg Hall volunteers, Bonnie Lovelock and Roger Sykes.

Felbrigg Hall lies just to the south and west of Cromer, in the north of the English county of Norfolk. The house itself was built between 1621 and 1680-85, with various additions and alterations thereafter. It is now in the care of the National Trust.

Katherine Windham (1652–1729), née Ashe, was the daughter of Sir Joseph Ashe, a rich banker from London. She married William Windham, squire of Felbrigg. Her sister married Horatio, 1st Viscount Townsend, of Raynham Hall, also in north Norfolk.

Katherine had collected around 400 recipes and household remedies by 1707 and seems to have continued adding to them later. As will be seen, her spelling is eccentric, to say the least, and punctuation often non-existent. I have therefore added notes in places to make what she writes more easily understood.

As the mistress of Felbrigg Hall, it seems most unlikely that she used these recipes personally. She will have shown them to her cook and perhaps supervised the preparation. It may also be that, like a good many people today, she simply enjoyed collecting recipe ideas from those houses where she was entertained, then sharing the best ones with friends and family. The Windhams were prominent in Norfolk society and were connected by family and social ties to just about all the gentry and nobility in the area.

The Recipe

Take a Shoulder of Mutton, roast it, but stuffe it not with oysters, for it lets out all ye goodnesse of ye mutton out, stew ye oysters with sweet hearbs & yr[1] own licquor, large[2] mace, nutmeg & onion, put a litle white wine in ye Stewing, take some of ye biggest oysters, frye ym[3] in buter & a litle minced parsly, bast ye muton with Claret & Anjovis[4], save what drops From it in a dish, yt will serve for sauce alone, blow of[5] ye fat & put it to ye oysters yn[6] put it in ye dish with ye mutton on it, lay yr[7] fryed oysters on ye meat & about ye dish, garnish it with Lemon or what you please

  1. yr: their  ↩
  2. large: a large amount of  ↩
  3. ym: them  ↩
  4. Anchovis: anchovies  ↩
  5. of: off  ↩
  6. yn: then  ↩
  7. yr: your  ↩

About William Savage

Author of mystery stories set in Georgian Norfolk.
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7 Responses to To Roast a Shoulder of Mutton with Oysters (1707)

  1. It’s hard to imagine what it might look like without modern instructions and the ubiquitous picture, but flavour wise I bet this is delicious. I see anchovies paired with lamb quite a bit and they melt down to provide a barely perceptible savoury hit that goes really well. The lack of detailed instructions is a bit nervewracking but I’d really like to try this recipe.


  2. Terry Tyler says:

    Wonderful! My sister and I used to walk to Felbrigg Hall often, when I lived in Cromer 🙂


  3. Glad you enjoyed it, Renée. I’ll be posting several more from the same source over the coming months.


  4. Renee Mahoney says:

    I demonstrate 18th century hearth cooking here in Virginia and always appreciate reading old “receipts”. Thanks for sharing this bit of history from Norfolk.


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