Dear Readers, your roving correspondent Letitia Wellbeloved is coming to you today from Brantstone Hall in Lincolnshire, home of Lord and Lady Somerton.
The chief editor of The Lady’s Magazine has commissioned me to visit the homes of several well known and respected members of society and share with you, dear readers, a little about the Christmas traditions of these grand homes.
I have included the list of other grand homes I will be visiting, together with details of two generous prizes donated by the editor of The Lady's Magazine. All you have to do is enter something called a RAFFLECOPTER... whatever that is! You can click HERE to enter it or go to the end of this post.
Meet Mrs. Fletcher, housekeeper of Brantstone Hall... home of Lord and Lady Somerton.
I have with me, Mrs. Fletcher, the housekeeper here at Branstone Hall.
L.W.: Mrs. Fletcher, are the rumours true? Was the last Lord Somerton murdered?
Mrs. F: I’m not one to gossip…
L.W.: Of course not…
Mrs. F: But yes, indeed we had quite a to do. Her ladyship being kidnapped and… well, enough of that. The villains were run to the ground and now Lord and Lady Somerton (or as we like to think of them... our Sebastian and Isabel) are married with a bairn on the way so we are looking forward to a peaceful and happy Christmas.
L.W: Speaking of Christmas – are there any particular traditions that are observed here at Brantstone Hall.
Mrs. F: Yes indeed, I am delighted to report that his Lordship is instituting a new tradition. He’s calling it ‘The Servants’ Ball’ and all the staff in the house and the estate workers and them in the village are invited to a party up at the hall on Twelfth Night. We’ve made all the arrangements. There’ll be a big buffet laid out in the kitchen and His Lordship will lead off the dancing with me. Oh, Miss Wellbeloved, it’s been many a year since a handsome man like his lordship has led me on to a dance floor. I am all aflutter at the thought.
Of course the next day is a normal work day for everyone so I imagine there’ll be a few sore heads but oh, how wonderful to hear laughter and music after all those years…
LW: It sounds wonderful. Now Mrs. Fletcher you did promise to share a favourite recipe of his Lordship’s with our readers.
Mrs. F: I have His Lordship’s favourite recipe for fruit mince pies, sent to me by His last housekeeper, Mrs. Mead who will be joining us for Christmas.
Firstly let’s be clear that a mince tart is a tart… with an open face and maybe a star or fancy shape but a proper mince pie is a pie… with a full cover on the top.
Of course you know the tradition says that says you have to eat a mince pie every day for the twelve days of Christmas to bring good fortune for the coming year.
RECIPE FOR FRUIT MINCE PIES…
250g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
I large (or up 2 small) beaten eggs
1/4tsp mixed spice
1 tsp grated lemon rind
Sieve flour and add sugar.
Rub in butter until mixture resembles breadcrumbs
Make into dough with egg (Mrs. Mead says the secret is making the mixture with just one egg and it needs to be really well worked in). Allow to rest in ice box.
Turn on to floured board and proceed as for normal pastry.
Divide mixture into 2/3 and 1/3 - use the larger to cut out the pie bases and the smaller.
Fruit Mince can be purchased commercially (Roberstons's is a firm favourite with a little added brandy) or you can make your own - mix it all up and leave it to soak in brandy. Keeps for ages!
Fill the pie bases, top with a lid, prick with a fork and cook in oven at 180 deg C until lightly browned.
This is Letitia Wellbeloved bidding farewell to Branstone Hall and hoping you will join her at one of the other places she will be visiting.
If you want to read more about the adventures of Lord and Lady Somerton that Mrs. Fletcher alluded to, please read LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR by Miss Alison Stuart. Click the link below to buy it.