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Feasts Fit for a King

Yorkshire Evening Press, May 2003

by Evening Press reporter

TWO fascinating food journals which list the dining routine of King George II are expected to fetch more than £60,000 when they go under the hammer next month.

The detailed 18th century manuscripts are being offered for sale by York booksellers Ken Spelman Rare Books on behalf of an anonymous North Yorkshire family estate.

The documents, meticulously kept by the King's head cook, record the royal household's consumption, from 27-course state banquets to frugal meals for servants below stairs.

Tony Fothergill, joint partner at the Micklegate antiquarian book shop, said he had never dealt with Royal documents of this nature before.

One hide-bound account book of 400 pages measures two feet by 18 inches and dates back to 1716, two years after George II came to Britain as Prince of Wales. It reveals that George and his Hanoverian father, an ancestor of today's royal family, at first continued to enjoy German dishes, but adopted the English habit of eating songbirds as delicacies.

A smaller book from 1737 lists the contents of a 27-course Christmas Day feast, including birds such as partridge, larks, quails, snipe, teals, pullets and cockerels.

Other non-poultry foodstuffs included plum broth, asparagus, oysters and loach, a small freshwater fish. The documents will be put on sale at the Antique Booksellers Association's fair in London between Thursday and Sunday.