The frontispiece and title-page of Hannah Woolley’s The Ladies Delight…, sold by Forum at £11,000.

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Served up at Forum (25/20/12.5%% buyer’s premium) was a culinary treat: a 150-lot ‘private library’ in which the most expensive dish proved to be a manuscript of cookery, household and medical interest dating from the late 17th and early 18th century.

It was the work of Anne Hawtrey (c.1626-1727), the seemingly quite remarkably long-lived – for those times at least – daughter of Ralph Hawtrey of Eastcote House in Ruislip, and in later years the second wife of a Suffolk nobleman, Sir Charles Blois.

The manuscript is actually accomplished in several different hands and in later years passed to her daughter, Ann Blois.

In the original calf binding and with a few other manuscript recipes loosely inserted, it features such varied instructions as “how to make nettle Cheese thin” or prepare Cowslip wine, and even offers “Doctor Lowers recipe for ye Giddiness in the head”, though the latter was probably not brought on by over-indulgence in that Cowslip wine.

Estimated at £3000-4000, it was bid instead to £15,000 in this February 9 auction in London.

Complete delight

That manuscript had followed immediately on in the catalogue from a rarely seen complete copy of Hannah Woolley’s The Ladies Delight… of 1672 in a rebacked contemporary sheep binding.

Presenting all three parts, which in addition to its instructions in the culinary arts included ‘The Ladies physical closet, or, choice receipts and experiments in Physick and Chyurgery’, it sold at £11,000.


The 1955 first of Elizabeth David’s Summer Cooking that bore a much later inscription, £1500 at Forum.

Among the more modern lots in the collection were a group of works by Elizabeth David, the most successful of which at £1500 was a copy of Summer Cooking of 1955.

It was one that contained a card, dated 1989, in which she writes about eating at what the cataloguer took to be Simply Nico, the then newly opened restaurant of Nico Ladenis.

“Nico is certainly in splendid form…”, she writes, but adds “…I don’t think Michelin will like his Indian touches…”, and “Last time I dined there… he was telling some characters that they were very welcome to enjoy a meal but he did not repeat not wish to be included in any guide.”