William Penn's Kitchen

This article originally appeared in Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook

Pennsbury Manor, Tullytown, Bucks County, the home of William Penn, features a remarkable program to demonstrate seventeenth-century foodways and recipes. The primary source for these seventeenth-century recipes is Gulielma Penn's handwritten "receipt" book. The recipes of William Penn's first wife are available today because Penn's son William had Edward Blackfan transcribe them before his departure to Pennsylvania. Gulielma included recipes for a "spinaige" tart *, chicken fricassee *, and portingall cake *, which Pennsbury Manor has adapted for modern cooking and preserving.

The Pennsbury kitchen was a busy place. In order to extend the season in which fruits and vegetables could be served, preserving them with either sugar or vinegar was essential. The cooks preserved the harvests from the first produce in the spring through the last in the fall.

At least once a week, the bake oven was fired for an entire day of baking. The oven was preheated to a temperature hotter than what was desired so that bread, pies, and small cakes could all be baked as the oven's temperature decreased throughout the day. After two loads of bread were baked, the cooks baked meat pies, such as shreed pyes *.

Dinner for William Penn was served between 2:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon and typically contained multiple courses. Servants prepared the table with the same number of deliberately creased table linens as courses and arranged the prepared dishes symmetrically on the table. After each course, the servants removed both the remaining food and one tablecloth.

* Recipes are available in the Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook


Pennsbury Manor, Morrisville, PA
The country estate of Pennsylvania's founder, William Penn.

For Further Reading

pa-trail-of-history-cookbook-sm.gif Pennsylvania Trail of History Cookbook
Edited by Kyle R. Weaver, Diane B. Reed, and Fred Lauver
Forward by William Woys Weaver

Stackpole Books and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
pennsbury-manor-toh.gif Pennsbury Manor: Pennsylvania Trail of History Guide
by Larry E. Tise

Stackpole Books and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission
Articles 2
William Penn's Kitchen