Elinor Fettiplace (born Elinor Poole, later Elinor Rogers; c.1570 – in or after 1647) was an English cookery book writer. Probably born in Pauntley, Gloucestershire into an upper class land-owning farming family, she married into the well-connected Fettiplace family and moved to a manor house in the Vale of White Horse, in what was then Berkshire.

In common with most ladies of the Elizabethan era, Fettiplace wrote a manuscript book, now known under the title Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book, with details of recipes for dishes and meals, medical remedies and tips for running the household. She dated the work 1604, but it is possible that she began writing it several years earlier, when she was still living with her mother. The book was passed down through her family, initially to her niece, until it was handed to the husband of the writer Hilary Spurling. Spurling conducted research on Fettiplace's identity and the contents of the book, and published the work in 1986.

Fettiplace's husband died in 1615; she moved back to Gloucestershire and married a local man, Edward Rogers, who died in 1623. She lived until at least 1647.


Appleton Manor in 2012

Elinor Poole was born around 1570, probably at Pauntley, Gloucestershire.[1][a] Her parents were Henry Poole—later Sir Henry, justice of the peace, Member of Parliament and the High Sheriff of Gloucestershire—and Anne, née Wroughton, of Broad Hinton, Wiltshire. Elinor had two sisters—both younger—Francis and Dorothy, and three brothers, Giles, Devereux and Henry.[3] Devereux, who was probably a year or so older than Elinor, was killed when he was 19, fighting alongside his father in France while under the command of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex.[4] The Poole family was a large landowner in the area, with farming area down to Wiltshire, through the Cotswolds, into Berkshire and across approaching Herefordshire. Although the properties were extensive, the Poole family had heavily mortgaged much of their land.[5] The family were well-connected within the upper classes, and Elinor's living relatives included her cousins, the brothers Sir Carew and Sir Walter Raleigh.[6][b]

Fettiplace is included with her sisters kneeling at their father's tomb at St Kenelm's Church, Sapperton[7]

In early 1589 Elinor Poole married Richard Fettiplace, of the Fettiplace family, in Berkshire.[1] The marriage introduced Elinor to an ancient Norman family that owned large areas of land in the Vale of White Horse.[7] She came to the marriage with a dowry of £400, a bequest of her grandfather, Sir Giles Poole. According to Hilary Spurling, Fettiplace's biographer, the dowry may have come with conditions that her new in-laws put their finances in order by selling some of their land.[8] The couple had five children—three daughters and two sons—and lived in the manor house at Appleton, Oxfordshire, described as "relatively modest" by Spurling.[1][c][d] Two of their daughters died as infants and a third aged 16. It is possible there was a fourth daughter, but the point is unclear. Their son Henry was born in c.1602, but nothing more is known about him. Their eldest child John was born in 1590. In 1606 he married his cousin Margaret, and the couple lived at Appleton; they were still resident there the following year when they had a son, Edmund.[12][e]

On a normal day the manor would provide for between twenty and thirty people, which included the family, but during the seasonal feasts this number could double or triple,[1] with fifty guests needing to be fed twice a day during the Twelve Days of Christmas.[14] Fettiplace had a copy of Charles Estienne's book Countrey Farme, which had been given to her by Sir Henry Danvers; the book provided guidance on garden planning, and advice on growing herbs and vegetables.[15] She spent time in the summer and autumn months preserving food for the winter, with the help of the estate's staff.[16]

Fettiplace's husband died in 1615 and it appears she left Appleton Manor, giving advice to her daughter-in-law, Margaret, on how best to run it.[17] After Fettiplace's father died in 1616, he left £500 in his will for her. He was buried in St Kenelm's Church, Sapperton. His ornate tomb shows his son kneeling next to him, and his three daughters, including Fettiplace, kneeling at the front.[7] It is her only known likeness.[1]

Fettiplace returned to within her own family's orbit at Sapperton, and married a man from Gloucester, Edward Rogers, who died in 1623. He was also buried in Sapperton's church. Details of her death are unclear, but it was in or after 1647.[13]


According to Spurling, the little that is known about Fettiplace's character suggests she was forceful, with a "firm view of her own importance".[18] After her husband died, she continued to use the title of "Ladyship", although not entitled to; she continued the practice even after she married a commoner and he had died.[18] His memorial stone in St Kenelm's Church outlines his status from the view of her importance and ancestry.[13]

Spurling concludes Fettiplace was an "efficient and practised manager" in the way she ran her household and, when her husband was absent, the family estate, was interested in modern cookery, and had a "cautious and considerate approach" to dispensing the medicines she prepared.[19]

Receipt Book

Main article: Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book

To make serop of tobaccho

Take a quart of water & three ounces of tobaccho, put the tobaccho in the water, & let it lie a night & a day close covered, then boile it to reduce it from a quart to a pinte, then straine it, & put to everie pinte a pound of sugar, then put in the whites of three or fowre eggs finelie beaten, then set it on the fire, & when it boiles scum it, then cover it close, & let it boile, till it bee serop.

Sir Walter Raleigh's recipe, as recorded by Fettiplace[20]

Ladies of the Elizabethan age would often keep manuscript books with details of "receipts" for dishes, meals, medical remedies and tips for running the household.[21][f] Fettiplace's Receipt Book—bound in leather and written on good quality paper—was signed by Fettiplace and dated 1604.[23] Her manuscript is one of the few such works to survive from that time.[24] The food writer C. Anne Wilson considers it likely that the recipes were collected over several years:[25] the social historian Janet Theophano suggests Fettiplace began writing it under her mother's direction.[26]

In 1647 Fettiplace passed her Receipt Book to her niece and goddaughter, Anne Horner,[g] writing "Thes bock I geve to my deare nees and goddutar Mrs Anne Hornar desyring her to kepe it for my sake: 1647".[13] The work was passed down through the generations until it was given to the husband of Hilary Spurling. She researched the background of the book and Fettiplace, and published the work in 1986.[28] Reviewing the work, the historian A. L. Rowse described it as "a fascinating find" that deserved "to taste of the Victorian Mrs Beeton's success as a best seller".[29]

Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book has been organised into twelve chapters by Hilary Spurling, each covering a month. Within the work are recipes for food, remedies for ailments and illnesses and tips for running the household.[21] Appleton estate was largely self-sufficient, and the Receipt Book describes how to make various household products, including perfume, ink, toothpaste, rat poison and weed killer. Fettiplace also describes the methods used to bleach linen or wash delicate fabrics such as gold weave and silks ("To wash gould and coloured silk").[1][30]

Sapperton, the home of the Poole family

Among her medical remedies, Fettiplace included treatments provided by friends. Sir Walter Raleigh provided a recipe for "Syrup of Tobacco", used to sooth lung trouble, or curing a long-held cough, and "Tobacco Water",[31] and John Hall, a physician and the son-in-law of William Shakespeare, provided a method of stopping nosebleeds.[32][h] Among the other medicinal entries included in the book, were remedies for a bad back (11), insomnia (7), wound dressing (36), failing eyesight (45), coughs (16), stomach ache (24) and one for the plague.[1] The reference to a plague cure is unsurprising: the disease was rampant in England the early years of the 1600s, including in around Oxfordshire and Berkshire in 1604—the year Fettiplace marked in her book.[33]

In an examination of the recipes in a historical context, Spurling concludes that the recipes were, for the time, modern, and embraced new tastes and styles, rather than the food of the mediaeval past, and which contained elements of a French and English style of cooking that was still running strong 400 years later.[1][34] Her book contains a recipe for meringues (which she called "White biskit bread"), which pre-dates the appearance in French recipe books in François Massialot's 1692 work Nouvelle instruction pour les confitures.[35]

Most of the recipes for food in the book would have been for produce from Appleton's estate, although there are some imported items for luxury goods.[1] These include in the recipe for "Spanish Marmalad", among the ingredients for which are powdered pearls and gold:

Take five sponfulls of rose water and seaven sponfulls of suger finely beaten, make yt boyle you must have redy by you two handfulls of almondes blanched and finely grownd, with 15 or 16 dates ye stones and whights taken out, and yor dates cut smale and beaten in a morter, then mixe yor dates and almondes well together, then put yt in your Sirrope stirringe yt well together, then take on sponfull of pouder of sinamond, halfe a sponfull of ye pouder of pearles, three sheetes of Golde, stirr all theise well, but you must take yt first from the fire or else yt will bee to stiff that you can-not mingell yt, before yt bee through cold put yt upp into a marmalad boxe.[20]

Elinor Fettiplace's Receipt Book is an important historical work showing what domestic life was like for part of society in Elizabethan England, and the work has been used as a source in several such published works.[36][37][38][39] Few objects other than Fettiplace's manuscript have survived from the Poole's manor at Sapperton.[40]

Notes, references and sources


  1. ^ Her first name also appears on contemporary documents as Elynor or Elianor, and the surname given as variously as Fettyplace, Feteplace, Phetiplace, ffeteplace and Ffetiplact, among others.[2]
  2. ^ Fettiplace was also related on her grandmother's side to Richard Whittington (who left Pauntley to become the Lord Mayor of London and on whom the character Dick Whittington is based); one of her uncles (by marriage) was Sir John Thynne, the builder of Longleat.[6]
  3. ^ What remains of Appleton Manor is described by the architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner as "An amazing survival. Part of a manor-house of 1190 or 1200 with a doorway worthy of any major church."[9] As at 2020, the manor house is II* listed with Historic England, who note that it is "one of the oldest surviving inhabited manor houses in Britain".[10]
  4. ^ There is no record that the children were baptised in the local parish of Appleton.[11]
  5. ^ John Fettiplace died in 1619, leaving a wife and four children.[13]
  6. ^ The common name for a recipe was, at the time, "receipt".[22]
  7. ^ Anne was the daughter of her younger brother Henry; her husband was Sir George Horner, the great-great grandson of Sir John Horner, who was immortalised in the nursery rhyme "Little Jack Horner".[27]
  8. ^ The method was to use a pinch of the patient's dried blood as snuff and apply cloths soaked in plantain and tansy.[32]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Spurling 2004.
  2. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, p. 7.
  3. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, pp. 24, 247.
  4. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, pp. 3–4.
  5. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, pp. ix, 2.
  6. ^ a b Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, p. ix.
  7. ^ a b c Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, p. 5.
  8. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, pp. 4–6.
  9. ^ Pevsner 2002, p. 65.
  10. ^ "Appleton Manor, Appleton-with-Eaton – 1198061". Historic England.
  11. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, p. 12.
  12. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, pp. 12, 35.
  13. ^ a b c d Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, p. 35.
  14. ^ Dickson Wright 2011, 1997.
  15. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, p. 96.
  16. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, pp. 39–40, 50.
  17. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, pp. 34, 39.
  18. ^ a b Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, p. 9.
  19. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, pp. 10, 20, 26.
  20. ^ a b Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, p. 187.
  21. ^ a b Lehman 2003, 417.
  22. ^ "receipt and recipe". British Library.
  23. ^ Dickson Wright 2011, 1897, 1889.
  24. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, p. 10.
  25. ^ Wilson 1987, pp. 12–13.
  26. ^ Theophano 2002, p. 87.
  27. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, p. xi.
  28. ^ Glendinning 1986, p. 15.
  29. ^ Deitz 1987, Section C, Page 3.
  30. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, pp. 14–15.
  31. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, pp. 186–187.
  32. ^ a b Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, p. 19.
  33. ^ Shrewsbury 2005, p. 276.
  34. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, p. 126.
  35. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, pp. 126, 118.
  36. ^ Riley 1993, pp. 78, 84.
  37. ^ Time Life 1998, p. 87.
  38. ^ Singman 1995, p. 211.
  39. ^ Sim 1996, p. 62.
  40. ^ Spurling & Fettiplace 1987, p. 37.