Heritage Open Days return to Berkhamsted Castle with medieval cookery
After a year of lockdown, it was a joy to see the return of Heritage Open Days, the annual festival when historic sites across England offer a special welcome to the public to celebrate our shared history.
Public enthusiasm for visiting heritage attractions is higher than ever, and our free guided tours of Berkhamsted Castle were fully booked online in a matter of hours. Led by an expert guide, visitors were taken around the best remaining example of a motte and bailey castle in England to discover its fascinating hidden history. It was here that William, Duke of Normandy acquired the title “The Conqueror” when the Anglo-Saxons surrendered to him in 1066. Within these walls have walked the Earls of Cornwall, Edward the Black Prince, Thomas Becket, Geoffrey Chaucer and Cecily Neville, Duchess of York.
Berkhamsted Castle Trust was also delighted to welcome Tastes of History to put on a medieval cookery demonstration within the Castle walls, as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days “Edible England” theme. Husband-and-wife team Mark and Jill Hatch amazed and delighted visitors with an array of dishes from the 14th-century cookbook, “The Forme of Cury”.
These forgotten recipes were originally written down by the Master Cooks in the Court of King Richard II. They used exotic ingredients brought from southern Europe and Arabia through the Crusades to provide culinary excitement in sauces, puddings, pastries and spiced wine. The name “Cury” comes from the Middle French word “cuire”, meaning “to cook”. Some of the dishes sampled included Ymbre Day Tarte (a cheese flan), a Grete Pye (game pie), buttered wortes (greens) and savoury green soup.
If you’d like to try some medieval cookery at home, Mark and Jill have posted some recipes on their blog:
Why not give it a go, take photos of your medieval culinary triumphs and Tweet them? Remember to tag @berkocastle – we’d love to see the results!
Mark and Jill were an absolute delight to work with, and it was plain to see that visitors to the Castle over the two days enjoyed the event immensely. We very much hope to run something similar with Tastes of History again in the future. We will also be offering guided tours on request throughout the year – if you have a school or social group, please drop us a line via our website: