Antiquitates Culinariae

Richard Warner’s Antiquitates Culinariae, 1791

Shortly after I started working here, a little over a year ago, I came across this book – which we might have acquired much earlier. No one remembers! except that it was probably a donation. It was set aside and effectively forgotten until now, when we started re-arranging our shelves.and found it in the Western section (admittedly, a large section, easy for something to get lost in). I’m told that it isn’t the oldest book we’ve had, apparently there was some book from the 1600s at one point. I am hugely curious as to what that was. Probably, you know, a first edition Shakespeare or something.

ANYWAY. This book is pretty neat, even if you aren’t all that interested in culinary history. The full title is:

Antiquitates Culinariae;

or Curious Tracts relating to the Culinary affairs

of the Old English. With a preliminary discourse,

Notes and Illustrations, By the Reverend Richard Warner,

of Sway, near Lymington, Hants.

London: Printed for R. Blamire, Strand, 1791.


…and the contents are these:

No. 1. The Forme of Cury. A roll of ancient English cookery, compiled about A.D. 1390, by the master cooks of King Richard II.

 No. 2. A vellum manuscript in the possession of the Reverend Samuel Pegge, contemporaneous with the ‘Roll of Cury,’ containing ninety-one receipts in cookery.

 No. 3. A collection of recipes in English cookery, from a MS. in the library of the royal society, Arundel collection.

 No. 4. A small collection of recipes, for the preservation of particular fruits, about 160 years old [c. 1630].

 The fifth and sixth tracts describe the feasts surrounding the inthronization of George Neville, Archbishop of Yorke in 1467 and of Archbishop Warham in 1504.

See all the photos on the auction page, and there’s a bit more about the book, the author, and general notes. I love reading through the transcription of the medieval texts, and in parenthesis, Mr Warner will translate the Old English into his 18th century English… which isn’t always a huge help. Mostly it is. Further confusion (and if you’re like me, further interest) for modern readers comes in when you realize those letters that look like f‘s are actually s‘s. “Three sucking pigs” reads as something quite different… I found the explanation for this on the Straight Dope. I just love feeling the texture of the paper, and the printing! There is a limited edition facsimile edition out there, too, but this is the real deal.

Anyway. Check it out! We are happy to answer any and all questions!

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