Broadlands Dairy around 1880
Those of us who read history, or historical novels, are well used to the idea of the self-sufficiency of the large aristocratic estates and a glimpse of this can be seen in four dairy returns that have survived. (BR119/8) Each return covers one week. Three of them were prepared in 1882 and an earlier one is dated 7 August 1875. They are probably a sample of a much longer run of returns since they are on pre-printed forms.
Between 12 and 14 cows were milked each week. In 1875 these cows were Blackberry, Lovley (sic), and Doll who were the best milkers. In addition, there were ten other named cows, Rose, Duchess, Tulip, Sweetbryer, Morden, Butty, Dumpling, Cowslip, Tidy and Pretty. The names imply a degree of affection by their keepers.
The milk was recorded daily in quarts. In July 1882, 130 quarts were brought into the dairy each day. The lowest figure was November 1882 when only 63 quarts came into the dairy. 4 pints were sent daily to the Garden for unspecified use.
The Still Room was supplied regularly from the dairy. The still room received anything between 6 and 18 pints of milk daily. In addition a pint of cream was often sent to the still room and additional amounts of cream to the kitchen which in the week ending 7 August 1875 received two deliveries of 6 pints. In addition the kitchen received skim milk often in quantities of 16 pints. Butter was sent to both still room and kitchen in non-standard amounts, presumably dependent on need.
In August 1875, the School was supplied with ¾ pint of cream and 3 pints of skim milk every day including Sunday. The records do not show which school was the recipient of this largesse nor for whose benefit. Sometimes skim milk was given away, the amounts varying between none in 1875 to 52 pints in November 1882. Again there is no indication who this was given to. There is a column headed ‘Otherwise disposed of’ and between 2 and 6 pints of milk and skim are to be found here. It would be nice to think it was going to poorly or elderly estate workers, but maybe it was used to feed the pigs.
The dairy accounts also had columns headed ‘Poultry supplied to the house’. This was mostly eggs, although one fowl, worth 2/6 (12.5p) was recorded in July 1882. The 1875 return shows 13 eggs being despatched to London where presumably the family was residing at the time.
Scholars of medieval accounts will have come across food being despatched to London for consumption by baronial households. The accounts of John of Gaunt show his having produce sent from Somborne to his palace in London. It is therefore pleasing to see the practice continued 500 years later, even if the records refer to eggs rather than venison.