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Notebook reveals snapshot of life under Queen Victoria

A handwritten notebook discovered among items in a charity shop reveals what daily life was like under the rule of Queen Victoria. 

The curious handwritten notebook entitled W Tatton’s Receipt Book, dating from 1865, emerged among items at St Ann’s Hospice shop in Stockport, Greater Manchester. 

It features a miscellany of tips for daily life from recipes for raisin wine and freckle lotion to moustache care and creating the Queen’s perfume.  

W Tatton’s Receipt Book, dating from 1865, emerged among items at St Ann’s Hospice shop in Stockport, Greater Manchester

The notebook features a miscellany of tips for daily life from recipes for raisin wine and freckle lotion to moustache care and creating the Queen's perfume

The notebook features a miscellany of tips for daily life from recipes for raisin wine and freckle lotion to moustache care and creating the Queen’s perfume

Staff at the shop in Stockport found the book with other goods donated to the charity

Staff at the shop in Stockport found the book with other goods donated to the charity

Staff at the shop in Stockport found the book with other goods donated to the charity.

The book also includes details of monetary transactions alongside ingredients for making fly poison, gin and tooth powder.  

Nicola Rust, manager of the shop at Great Underbank in Stockport town centre, is appealing for anyone who might be able to shed light on the history of the book to come forward with details.

She said: ‘This notebook is a delightful insight into what life was like at the time of writing, and we already feel like we know a lot about W Tatton thanks to the pieces he has penned. 

‘We’re desperate to find out who he might be, and to fill in any gaps before this book goes on sale, so would love anyone who might be able to help us track down information on the author to get in touch.’

Staff are now appealing for anyone with information about the notebook to come forward 

Staff are now appealing for anyone with information about the notebook to come forward 

The book also includes details of monetary transactions alongside ingredients for making fly poison, gin and tooth powder

The book also includes details of monetary transactions alongside ingredients for making fly poison, gin and tooth powder

Notes in the book include:

  • Tips on how to make cheap tooth powder
  • Information on how to weld cart steel
  • Details of how to make gin as it is prepared in Holland
  • Facts on the care of moustaches and whiskers
  • Information on how to create fly poison
  • Instructions on how to make freckle lotion

Claire Briscoe from St Ann’s Hospice added: ‘We haven’t yet decided whether to auction the book, we’re hoping to find out as much about it as possible in the first instance then to make a decision after that on when or where it would be auctioned. 

‘It’s a real mystery, and it’s really captured people’s imaginations.

‘There are so many hidden gems. We can’t wait to hopefully find out more about who W Tatton was.’ 

Claire Briscoe from St Ann's Hospice said: 'It¿s a real mystery, and it¿s really captured people¿s imaginations'

Claire Briscoe from St Ann’s Hospice said: ‘It’s a real mystery, and it’s really captured people’s imaginations’

The shop recently auctioned some rare science publications, including one written and signed by the Nobel Prize willing physicist Pieter Zeeman

The shop recently auctioned some rare science publications, including one written and signed by the Nobel Prize willing physicist Pieter Zeeman

The book offers recipes for perfume, thickening the hair and keeping cool in the summer

The book offers recipes for perfume, thickening the hair and keeping cool in the summer

The shop recently auctioned some rare science publications, including one written and signed by the Nobel Prize willing physicist Pieter Zeeman.

Ms Rust added: ‘It’s such a pleasure to be able to read this notebook and to get a glimpse of what life was like in the 1860s.

‘We’re really hoping someone can help us to solve the mystery of its provenance.’ 

W Tatton’s Receipt Book: Recipes for perfume, thickening the hair and keeping cool in the summer

The Queen’s own perfume:

Essence of cloves and bergamot of each 3 drachm; neroli 1 drachm; essence of milk ½ oz; eau do rose, spirit of tuberose and the strongest spirits of wine of each half a pint; spirits of jasmine and cassia of each 1 pint; dissolve the essences in the spirits of wine then add the other spirits and when well mixed add the rose water.

Cold cream:

Oil of Almonds, 1lb, white wax, 4oz; melt, pour into a warm mortar. Add by degrees rose water 1 part. It should be light and white. Used to soften the skin, prevent chaps etc.

Oil for thickening the hair:

Olive Oil 3oz; oil of lavender 1 drachm. Apply morning and evening to those parts where the hair is wanting in consequence of a deficiency of moisture in the skin.

Cool summer drink:

Take 1lb of finely powdered loaf sugar, 1oz tartaric or citric acid, and 20 drops of essence of lemon. Mix immediately and keep very dry. Two or three spoonfuls of this, stirred briskly in a tumbler of water will make a very pleasant glass of lemonade.

Indian Syrup:

A delicious summer drink. 5lbs of lump sugar, 2oz of citric acid, 1 gallon of boiling water; when cold, add essence of lemon, and spirits of wine; stir it well and bottle it. About 2 tablespoons to a glass of cold water.

Drink for hot weather:

Two tablespoons of Scotch oatmeal put into a large tumbler or small jug and filled up cold water, well stirred up and allowed to settle until the large particles of meal fall to the bottom, forms a most refreshing drink in hot weather and it quenches third more than any liquid.

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