Making Jumbles and P is for Poinsettia – the history interpreter’s historical advent calendar

Mistress Agnes got out her pots and pans today to make Jumbles – for the uninitiated these are spicy biscuits, common in the C16th and C17th. I have a C17th talk coming up tonight – one of my regular slots with the branch of Somerset and Dorset Family History Society that meets at Street. As it is their Christmas meeting, I thought I’d give it a whirl. Cook I am not. There are several different Jumble recipies. Some contain rosewater. Hmm where to source rosewater? The community shop clearly wasn’t up to it; neither it seems was M*******s. I wasn’t even quite sure where to expect it to be. My companion went for the condiments shelves whilst I scanned the baking section in vain. I decided I’d have to substitute something, but what? In the end I went for the vanilla essence that was lurking in the back of my larder.

Then came the making part, a typical scenario for my cooking forays – too dry, add some water, too wet add some flour ……. The end result? They look a bit like a pre-schooler’s play dough efforts (they are meant to be figure of 8 shaped), they do smell very nice, I guess the proof of the Jumble….. Now to decide whether they are up to being displayed to a wider public. I can always adopt my usual tactic – if they look burnt on one side turn them over – worked (almost) every time with fish fingers when the girls were small.

Last night, a very interesting talk from Mark Horton of ‘Coast’ fame. With some thought provoking comments on how and indeed whether, we can preserve our natural landscape, whilst providing for our C21st needs.


Pantomimes owe much to the Italian ‘Commedia dell’ Arte’ and in the C16th were performed as entertainment between the acts of an opera. By the early C18th these incorporated the Harlequinade. Pantomime in its modern form was influenced by the Victorian music hall and Augustus Harris, the manager of Drury Lane Theatre in 1870, is credited with its promotion.


The poinsettia is native to Mexico and was used as a medicinal plant by the Aztecs. The Mexicans call them ‘flowers of the holy night’ and it is seen to represent the Star of Bethlehem.


2 comments on “Making Jumbles and P is for Poinsettia – the history interpreter’s historical advent calendar

  1. Polly Rubery says:

    I used to buy my Rosewater from the local chemist’s shop…haven’t bought any for a long time though, and don’t think I’d try Boots!

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