Posted on March 26, 2014
Our fantastic volunteer Maggie has researched the history of Mothering Sunday, a day for servants to return to their Mother Church ie their home parish.
The tradition of Mothering Sunday in this country is closely connected to the Church. Most people who went to Church did so in the Parish Church nearest to their home. However, many people at what would seem to be a very early age, often as young as 10 years old, left home to begin work. Many of these went to become servants to wealthier families, frequently many miles away. Servants had very little time off from their duties, but it was thought to be important that once a year they should return to worship in their ''Mother Church', the Church nearest to their home and of course visit their mothers and their families. The traditional day for this visit was on the fourth Sunday in the Church season of Lent. There are different possibilities for the meaning of the word Lent. The Anglo Saxon origins of the word can mean 'lengthen' or 'Spring', but both are linked to the idea of that time of year when the days lengthen and new life emerges.
Lent is the period of 40 days leading to Easter, marked by a period of fasting and personal reflection; our tradition of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent starts began as a way of exile using up food before fasting began.
On the fourth Sunday in Lent the rules of fasting were relaxed. In fact the day was also called Refreshment Sunday, The Bible Gospel readings for that day traditionally focused on food, with the story of Jesus feeding five thousand people, so food became one of the focal points of Mothering Sunday.
Not only were servants allowed the day off to return to their family home and Mother Church, but were often allowed to make a cake to take to their mothers - Simnel Cake. People would also pick flowers as they made their way home to give to their mothers or to decorate the Church and, in particular, posies of violets became traditional. In fact sugar violets would be added as decoration to the Simnel cakes along with 11 marzipan balls to represent the 11 disciples. The twelfth disciple, Judas, who traditionally was held to have betrayed Jesus to the authorities, is not represented.
Simnel cake is a spiced fruit cake with two layers of almond paste (marzipan) one on top and one through the middle of the cake. Why 'Simnel'? The name probably originated from the Latin word 'simila', a fine wheat flour used for baking. Another legend has it that a married couple, Simon and Nell argued about whether they should bake or boil their cake. In the end, apparently, they did both, hence the name Sim - Nel.
A Recipe for Simnel Cake
(From Mary Berry)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 2 ¼ hours
You will need
175g soft butter or margarine, plus extra for greasing
175g light muscovado sugar
175g self-raising flour
90g glacé cherries, quartered, rinsed, and dried
30g candied peel, roughly chopped
Grated zest of 1 large lemon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
For the filling and decoration:
500g almond paste
2 tbsp apricot jam
1 egg white
Deep 18 cm (7 in) round loose-bottomed cake tin
1. Roll out one-third of the almond paste. Using the base of the cake tin as a guide, cut out an 18 centimetre round.
2. Grease the cake tin and line the bottom and side with greaseproof paper.
3. Combine all the cake ingredients in a bowl. Beat well until thoroughly blended. Spoon half of the cake mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface. Top with the round of almond paste.
4. Spoon the remaining cake mixture on top and level the surface.
5. Bake in a preheated oven at 150°C/gas mark 2 for two and a quarter hours or until golden brown and firm to the touch.
6. Cover the top of the cake with greaseproof paper if it is browning too quickly. Leave to cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the tin, and leave to cool completely.
7. Warm the jam and use to brush the top of the cake.
8. To decorate the cake, roll out half of the remaining almond paste and use the tin to cut out an 18 centimetre round. Put on top of the jam and crimp the edges. Roll the remaining almond paste into eleven even-sized balls. Place around the edge of the cake, attaching them with egg white.
9. Brush the tops of the balls and the almond paste with egg white. Place under a hot grill for one to two minutes, until the balls are golden.
Posted on January 13, 2014
Hear from Sara, our new Heritage and Admin Apprentice, on her first week at Grange Court.
Grange Court is a Grade II* listed timber framed market hall, and is a Community, Heritage and Enterprise Hub. The building is owned by LARC Development Trust, a registered charity who bought the building from Herefordshire Council for £1.
The building was built by John Abel in 1633, and was originally located at the top of Broad Street where it was a market house. The market house was deemed as a traffic hazard in the mid nineteenth century and was dismantled. In 1859, John Arkwright bought the building and it was rebuilt where it is today and modified for use as family home to the Moore Family. It was a family home until 1939 until Leominster District Council purchased the building to save it from being dismantled and relocated to South Wales, where it would become the gatehouse to St Donats Castle. Until 2008, the Borough Council, the District Council and then the County Council had offices in Grange Court. After this, the redevelopments began to turn it into a Community, Heritage and Enterprise Hub.
Grange Court is a very interesting building with many displays and exhibitions. Much of the information on the building is presented on touchscreen tablets, that when placed against the touch points will provide lots of information about each display. There are rooms at Grange Court that can be rented for functions and events. The building is also licensed for weddings and civil ceremonies. Events take place at Grange Court such as Renaissance Music and Dance performances, storytelling and repair cafes.
My first week at Grange Court
I started working here as an apprentice on Monday 6th January 2014. I was quite nervous before I arrived, but I was also very excited. I had met most of the people that also work here and they were all really nice and welcoming. This week I have done the tour of the building using the touchscreen tablets and I really enjoyed that. It was really interesting to learn all about the building and gain lots of information. I really enjoyed the display of the weight system and how some market traders could trick customers and tamper with the devices to con people out of money. I found this all highly interested and I really enjoyed looking around the whole building.
I have spent time on the computer doing research about an embroidery style called Trapunto. Leominster in Stitches came in and I sat in on a meeting about this Trapunto style. I found this very interesting and I think how it is done is very clever and the finished result looks fantastic. I have also spent time on the reception desk and giving visitors the tablets so they can also do the tour. I’ve really enjoyed being out on the reception desk and it’s lovely to speak to visitors and answer questions they have and socialise and build up a good reputation with them.
I really enjoy working at Grange Court and although I have only been here for a week, I know I will enjoy my time here learning all sorts of interesting facts and information and also being able to spend time with lovely people and enjoy my new working environment.
Posted on April 9, 2013
Lots of lovely blog posts will be here shortly, but for now please enjoy the rest of the site.