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Tel 01467 642220 

e.mail kemnayhousegallery@gmail.com

Kemnay House,

Kemnay, Aberdeenshire,

Ab51 5LH

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Pickling for the Pantry

February 3, 2020

Whilst sorting an clearing out the old pantry, in an attempt to make it a usable space for assembling flower arrangements for our events, I came across yet another stash of dusty, chipped earthen ware jars.  The discovery reminded me that this room would have once had shelves brimming with pickled and preserved vegetables and fruits, able to sustain the family through the sparse months of late winter and early spring.  


In order to find out more, I reached for the extremely useful guide to life bellow stairs during the Regency period - The Complete Servant by Samuel & Sarah Adams (first published in 1825).

At this time the Burnett's were still prosperous and the extensive estate allowed John Burnett, 5th of Kemnay, to extend the house, add a plumbing system and refurbish much of the interior. 


His wife, Mary Stuart of Dunearn, would have planned and held lavish dinners in the newly appointed dining room and the housekeeper would have been in charge of keeping the pantry well stocked:


' The situation of housekeeper, in almost every family, is of great importance. - She superintends nearly the whole of the domestic establishment, - has generally control and direction of the servants, - has the care of the household furniture and linen - of all the grocery - dried and other fruits, spices, condiments, soap, candles, and stores of all kinds, for culinary and other domestic use. She makes all the pickles, preserves, and sometimes the best pastry...' 


The humble cabbage would have b