A Victorian Kitchen Tour!

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I have always wanted to check out one of the service kitchens in a grand estate. Watching shows like Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey have made me even more curious– they are always so beautiful, large, and of course incredibly functional. When we found out that we could tour the refurbished 1910 kitchen of the nearby Ickworth House, I couldn’t wait! We made it into the last showing of the season– the whole house will be closed until spring.
Considering the number of people who must have worked in this kitchen, it was actually a little smaller than I had imagined it! A friend told me today, however, that there are actually two kitchens in the basement of the rotunda. I love antique cooking implements. They are all so well-made and beautiful.
Imagine standing at the window below to peruse the huge cookbook full of classic French culinary techniques, planning out the meals…
Am I the only one who is tempted to open and dig through the drawers when I’m visiting someone’s kitchen?  Amelia and one of the volunteers spent a lot of time opening each one and talking about the contents.
We also opened up the larder.
Now, let’s take a moment to swoon over copper pots.
I can absolutely picture myself here, reading a book as I babysit bubbling pots… I wish I had room for a chair in my kitchen!

Another of my favorite elements was the wooden drainboards and backsplash at the sink. I don’t know if you can see it, but they have the draining grooves carved into them– so beautiful, and in excellent condition.
Wood herringbone floors and terracotta tiles… Why did we ever start using linoleum? I can’t get enough of those gorgeous blacked wood stoves!Who wants to move in with me? Also, how many Downton Abbey fans do we have here? It’s so much fun to watch from this vantage point!

I have a few more post lined up this week, full of pictures of the Ickworth House. Next, up, we can look at the servants’ quarters!

(This post was shared at Monday Mania, Your Green Resource, Real Food Wednesday, and Tasty Traditions.)

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45 Responses to A Victorian Kitchen Tour!

  1. greatdana November 26, 2012 at 4:44 pm #

    Oh, pick me!!! We can take turns watching the pots and stoking the fires! I was just telling Jason last night that I can’t believe I haven’t watched Downton Abby. I will have to remedy this soon.

    • Ariana Mullins November 27, 2012 at 9:23 am #

      Dana, you are in for a treat! It’s actually really nice to start a series like that late, since you will want to watch more and more. I love the feeling of having a few episodes laid out before me, so I can get really immersed. Have fun!

  2. Julia Kelly November 26, 2012 at 4:50 pm #

    I love those shows too and watching Julia Childs cook in those old kitchens in France- but was thinking of those pour servants backs – knowing how bad my back and legs can get working at too short a counter- hubby says everyone was short back then- i think the “lord of the manner” and powers that be were unconcerned about higher tables, counters and stoves because they weren’t the ones at the counter!!

    • Ariana Mullins November 27, 2012 at 9:26 am #

      Yes, I’m not sure how the ergonomics worked. I have a feeling it was more about appearances. But you’ll see in my next post that the servants did have some fun!

  3. Valerie {all mussed up} November 26, 2012 at 6:13 pm #

    May need some smelling salts to revive me after that tour, because OH everything is so lovely! The copper pots, the stoves, the floors…sigh. Solid and unfancy and beautifully sensible. I like it so much. And you better believe I’m a downton abbey-er! (:

    • Ariana Mullins November 27, 2012 at 9:28 am #

      I know, everything so beautiful and sensible– that’s what I love. It is such a treat for the eyes to walk into a plastic-free zone– all of the colors are soothing and unobtrusive. Sigh…

  4. Anonymous November 26, 2012 at 7:46 pm #

    This is beautiful! You are so fortunate to live in an area where you can actually tour places like this instead of just watching it on TV. I LOVE Downton Abbey. I’ve only watched the first season on Netflix though so I’m a little behind. Got to get the next season on DVD. Thanks for posting these beautiful photos!
    Julie in AL

    • Ariana Mullins November 27, 2012 at 9:30 am #

      Hi Julie in Alabama! Yes, it’s pretty surreal that houses like these are so close by. The kitchen here was only recently restored to be toured like this in 2010, coinciding with the Downton Abbey mania– perfect timing for us! So glad you enjoyed the pictures. It’s always fun to see something and take pictures with the intention of sharing with you.

  5. Melissa N. Page November 26, 2012 at 7:57 pm #

    Oh I enjoyed this post so much! I saw “Victorian Kitchen Tour” and my eyes bugged out! I wish I could have gone with you, *sigh* You bet I am looking forward to Downton Abbey in January.

    • Ariana Mullins November 27, 2012 at 9:32 am #

      So much fun, isn’t it? If you can’t wait till the next season (I think you guys the States– if that’s where you are– are a year behind us) send me a note and I can tell you where you can watch the episodes online for free!

    • Melissa Page November 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

      Ariana, Yes I live in Texas and I would love to know where I can catch Downton Abbey online! My email is [email protected]. I love, love, love your blog and I particularly enjoyed the butchered pork segment. I was looking forward to a beef post but you said that your butcher has closed, sorry to hear. Thank you for sharing your life and adventures!

    • Ariana Mullins November 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm #

      I’ll email you, Melissa! Actually, our butcher shop didn’t close– he just moved two miles away. So I still do buy from him, but it’s harder to do (I’ll get a bike!) I am still hoping to do the beef butchering post, but the next thing he wants to do is a beer-cured bacon– they have been so busy with their move, I expect that we’ll get to have some more lessons soon, though.

  6. Hazel November 26, 2012 at 8:48 pm #

    I love the jelly moulds. One day I’ll have a dresser with a collection of old china jelly moulds, just like the picture…

    Last year I volunteered as a Tudor maid in Stratford-upon-Avon(it didn’t work out logistically this year- hopefully I’ll be able to do it again next year)and helping out in the kitchen was my favorite thing. No wood stoves though- an open fire that had to be started with a fire steel every morning. The best tasting food ever! (We ate our dinner- not called lunch yet- in character with visitors watching and asking questions about the food and etiquette.

    • Ariana Mullins November 27, 2012 at 9:38 am #

      Hazel, that’s so great! I already knew that I wanted to meet you in person, but your Tudor maid history seals the deal! We have a Tudor manor nearby (Kentwell Hall) where they do reenactments. We will have to go to their next one. Cooking over an open fire would be much harder, I think. I am super interested in the etiquette, too.

    • Hazel November 28, 2012 at 12:46 pm #

      Lol! I knew you’d understand. Historical re-enactment is something that not everybody gets! Kentwell Hall is supposed to be fabulous.

      I loved it. I’m fascinated by domestic history- any excuse to go to a recreated iron age village or living history museum. My children love it too, especially my 8 year old. A year or two ago they showed the Victorian farm on TV (don’t know if you saw any of the Wartime Farm this year?) and it was her favourite thing ever!

      Tudor etiquette is really interesting and a lot of it is still what we consider good manners (not putting elbows on the table, for instance). It’s fascinating to learn why. If you’re interested, Alison Sim has written some good books on the period- very readable.

      And I’m definitely up for meeting in real life! Anytime you’re Oxford direction, let me know.

    • Ariana Mullins November 29, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

      I’m thinking maybe we’ll go visit our friends in Oxford in January or February. I’ll definitely get in touch!

    • Hazel November 29, 2012 at 8:26 pm #

      Do, that’d be great! I’m only about 1/2 hour north.

  7. Lindsey @ Homemade Mommy November 26, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

    This is amazing! Love love love! I just got a new book from my mother called “Consider the Fork: A History of How we Cook and Eat” – I bet it explains some of this stuff!

  8. Rois November 27, 2012 at 12:52 am #

    I love,adore and kind of worship vintage kitchen tools.Luckily my house and kitchen are on the small side so I have to be super picky about what I bring home.I am always watching the backgrounds of period shows for treasures.
    While watching Upstairs,Downstairs I spied their wooden egg holder.I have my own hens and a handy fellow who loves to make me things so my husband made me one of the egg holders.
    The link above shows one,we did not paint ours,ours is finished with bees wax.

    • Ariana Mullins November 27, 2012 at 9:42 am #

      I love that egg holder. So simple, and like that it has two levels, so it makes it more practical than my ceramic one that’s more like an ice cube tray. It’s so fun to see all of this stuff. I think I have way less kitchen tools than the average cook, even if I spend more time in the kitchen than the average person. I love well-made items, and I’d rather fewer, prettier ones. I’m sure I’d enjoy your kitchen!

  9. Meghan @ Whole Natural Life November 27, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    LOVE Downton Abbey. And living in the UK, you are probably watching season 3 NOW! It doesn’t start until January 6th here–I just looked it up. 🙂

    • Ariana Mullins November 29, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

      Meghan, our season three is already over! We have a Christmas special, but that will be it for the year. That is what can be so frustrating about BBC shows– each season has so few episodes, and then of course you always want more. By the way, there is plenty to look forward to in season 3!!

  10. I am in love with this tour! Thank you so much for sharing Ariana. I’m another sucker for Downton Abbey. It helps to feed my historical romance fetish of merry old England. 😀

    • Ariana Mullins November 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm #

      So glad you are enjoying it, Jennifer! I was never a big anglophile or history geek at all. But now that we’re here, we’re really enjoying it all, and it is pretty amazing to me that there is a place like this just a short drive from our house! I am thinking of re-reading all of the Jane Austen books (from high school) now that I can picture the settings and accents so much better.

    • What a great idea! If you need any help with your “research”, I’ll be on a plane tomorrow. lol

  11. Nikki Wall November 28, 2012 at 10:34 pm #

    I’m just catching up with your posts as I’ve been super-busy! I love visiting old houses and I agree that the servants quarters are amongst the most interesting parts of the house. I’d’ve really enjoyed visiting here!

    I have to admit I’ve not watching Downton Abbey (I don’t really *do* TV and don’t have a TV License) but it sounds as if I’d really enjoy it. I have watched the recent Wartime Farm on IPlayer though (legal if you don’t watch it as it’s being aired live).

    • Ariana Mullins November 29, 2012 at 8:04 pm #

      Hi Nikki, nice to “see” you again! I am surprised that you don’t watch THE SHOW. Even my husband has gotten curious since everyone’s talking about it, even men. But he goes to sleep instantly when he see people in an old-time setting, speaking with British accents. I watch it online, but not through BBC– some other server that has links to it. So I don’t *think* I have to pay TV tax… I will have to look up Wartime Farm. I enjoyed the Victorian Farm series.

    • Nikki Wall December 2, 2012 at 7:48 pm #

      I looked it up on LoveFilm and have now watched three episodes of the first series – even John is enjoying it after his father said he rather enjoyed it too.

      The Wartime Farm series has not longed aired on BBC – worth watching.

  12. Dina-Marie @ Cultured Palate November 28, 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    I love this kitchen! It has a certain romance to it!
    I would love to have you share this on Thursday at Tasty Traditions: https://myculturedpalate.com/

    • Ariana Mullins November 29, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

      Yes, isn’t it so sweet and simple? But the arched ceilings, huge windows, and the materials make it feel so rich to me, in another sense. And I’m happy to share it at your blog party.

  13. Deborah Niemann November 29, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    Love it!!! Thanks so much for sharing this! I am a huge Downton Abbey fan, and my favorite movie is Gosford Park! I think the stork may have accidentally dropped me on the wrong side of the pond.

    • Ariana Mullins November 29, 2012 at 8:06 pm #

      Deborah, have you been able to visit England? Since you love all of these things, I sure hope you have– this kind of history is just SO accessible! I’m glad you’re enjoying. I hope you stopped back in to see the “upstairs” tour, as well.

  14. Anonymous December 2, 2012 at 1:09 am #

    The reason we started using linoleum is because when you drop things on tile they shatter. And when you fall on tile it hurts and it’s cold and slippery. Linoleum isn’t as cool looking but you save a lotta dishes. I wouldn’t trade today for the work they had to do back then for all the tea in china.

  15. Darryl Margulies December 4, 2012 at 7:43 pm #

    Wow! That was a well-preserved Victorian kitchen. All the utensils were still in good condition. It’s so good to see those old pieces still functional. Anyway, have you thought of renovating your kitchen to make it look Victorian? I’d love to see it, if you do have plans to remodel it!

    • Ariana Mullins December 19, 2012 at 3:52 pm #

      Nope, no plans for a remodel, since we are renters. But I would LOVE a kitchen that looked like this one!

  16. Keaton Oakes December 6, 2012 at 6:01 pm #

    I love seeing well-preserved Victorian kitchens! You’re lucky that you were invited to this 1910 Victorian Kitchen tour! All the kitchen equipment is evidently antique! I’m planning to remodel our kitchen, and I want to give it a touch of the Victorian style. I wish it would look like this one!

  17. Randell Jeffries March 18, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

    This is my dream kitchen. It’s very simple yet functional. I’ve been imagining myself cooking my favorite recipe in this type of kitchen. I hope we can remodel our kitchen just like this. 🙂 ->Randell Jeffries

  18. Quartz worktops November 26, 2013 at 7:25 am #

    So beautiful! I love cooking, and I think I would love it even more if I was in your kitchen : )Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful!

  19. Marsha Smith April 14, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    Me Me Me!!! I absolutely love Victorian kitchens and the stuff that went in them.

    However, I see a post about the servants quarters at this house you went to tour. I live about 4 hours from Biltmore House in Asheville, NC. It is called the largest privately owned residence in America but the family doesn’t actually live there. It was built around the late 1890’s by a member of the Vanderbilt family. The servants’ quarters there are quite plain but are noted as still being quite nice compared to servants’ quarters at other great houses.

    I have just found your blog. I look forward to many pleasurable hours reading every word. I have wanted to go live in England for all of my life.

    • ariana April 16, 2014 at 8:12 am #

      Hi Marsha– so glad you found me, and that you can enjoy our English adventures here. I am working right now on sharing photos of a recent trip to Bath– you will love the architecture.


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