Bonnie Prince Charlies Flummery?

Flummery, when we first saw the word we had no idea either, but it turns out that flummery is rather interesting.

First a description, flummery is a sweet dessert pudding that was popular in the UK from the 17th to 19th Century. We first found the word upon seeing an interesting dish for Bonnie Prince Charlie Flummery and naturally had to discover more.

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Flummery tin – a similar one can be seen at Glenfinnan

 

According to one legend Flora MacDonald was half way through a dish of flummery when she was arrested for her part in helping Prince Charles escape following his defeat at Culloden. Another says that she made the dish for Prince Charles before he escaped, but who knows which, if either, is true. Even so it was enough for us to find out what on earth flummery is!

There appear to be variations on flummery from as early as the middle ages where it was more of a broth that could be made by pretty much anyone. Oats were a staple food of many and thus even the poor could make their own flummery. Most recipes seem to follow along the lines of soaking cereal (oats appear most popular), the liquid from which is then set to form a clear jelly. Thankfully this then seems to have been flavoured with orange or rosewater and topped with honey.

Whilst we are calling the dish flummery in England it was said to have been called ‘wash-brew’, no doubt because the resulting grey liquid resembled dishwater. Regardless of its appearance the dish was considered healthy and was served to many invalids believing that its bland but hardy nature would strengthen those who were unwell. This practice of eating flummery when sick looks to have continued until the 20th Century though variations in the dish were becoming more common. As time went on the jelly like texture was achieved with gelatin and the basic dish was enhanced with cream, eggs, fruit and even wine.

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Flummery (from http://www.historicfood.com)

 

If you want to give it a go here’s one of the best recipes we can find from ‘The Cook and Housekeeper’s Complete and Universal Dictionary’ from 1822:

Steep in cold water, for a day and a night, three large handfuls of very fine white oatmeal. Pour it off clear, add as much more water, and let it stand the same time. Strain it through a fine hair sieve, and boil it till it is as thick as hasty pudding, stirring it well all the time. When first strained, put to it one large spoonful of white sugar, and two of orange flower water. Pour it into shallow dishes, and serve it up with wine, cider, and milk; or it will be very good with cream and sugar.

Rather unappetizingly flummery became known as a word to mean bland or unsatisfying food and today the word is still used to mean an empty compliment or nonsense.

We think we’ll stick with having our oats in porridge or flapjack but if you want to give it a shot you can find more recent recipes for flummery on the internet. As always please like, tweet, comment, share and let us know how you enjoy your flummery!

All the best, K&D

 

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Flora MacDonald- Jacobite or not?

On the 5th March 1790 Flora MacDonald, probably the most famous woman of the ’45 Rising, died on the Isle of Skye at the age of 68. But how much do we know about this woman who is famous for helping Bonnie Prince Charlie escape?

When you mention the name Flora MacDonald people may immediately think she was a strong Jacobite supporter but this isn’t exactly true. Her story is one that has certainly been romanticised over the years creating a wonderful heroine but the facts are harder to pin down.

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Flora MacDonald

In 1746 Flora was on the island of Uist as Prince Charles Edward Stuart attempted to evade capture following the defeat at Culloden. She was 24 years old when she was asked to help Charles escape and after a little hesitation she agreed. She managed to get a pass to travel from Uist to Skye from her stepfather Hugh MacDonald, commander of the local militia. Flora was allowed to take two servants and a crew of six boatmen. Prince Charles was disguised as Betty Burke, an Irish spinning maid and the group sailed from Uist on 27th June. Finally Charles and Flora went their separate ways having only known each other for some eleven days.

Two weeks later Flora was arrested. One of the boatmen, apparently under the threat of torture, cracked and gave up names and a description of Charles dressed as Betty Burke. Flora was taken prisoner though by all accounts was treated very well. Before she was taken to Edinburgh she was allowed home to visit her mother and was allowed to take a young girl with her as a maid and companion. Flora herself was recorded as polite and cooperative and when she arrived in London on 6th December she did so with recommendations from her ‘captors’ and requests for special treatment towards her.

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Statue of Flora outside Inverness Castle

By spring 1747 Flora had become somewhat of a celebrity in London and her actions already somewhat romanticised. She received gifts and was allowed to pay visits, one of which was to Frederick, Prince of Wales. When Frederick asked her why she dared to help his fathers enemies she apparently replied that she would have done the same for him had she found him in distress, the fact that Charles was a Jacobite seemed to have no bearing on her decision to help. Flora was finally released under the general indemnity in July 1747.

Three years later Flora married Allan MacDonald and they lived in Scotland until 1774 when they emigrated to North Carolina. They arrived as the American Revolution was brewing and her husband joined a regiment of Royal Highland Emigrants, a common practice among expatriated Scots. Unfortunately he was captured at the battle of Moore’s Creek and Flora was forced into hiding while the American rebels destroyed the family plantation and she lost everything.

In 1779 she returned to Scotland but the merchant ship she was sailing on was attacked by privateers and Flora was injured when she refused to take shelter below deck. In 1783 her husband was released from his capture and travelled back to join Flora in Scotland and they settled in Skye. When she died in 1790 she was buried on the Isle of Skye and her funeral was said to have been attended by 3,000 mourners who between them consumed 300 gallons of whisky.

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The plaque on Flora’s memorial in Skye

Over the years Flora has become a Jacobite legend, her story has been told and retold. The Skye Boat song recalling the Princes escape was published in 1884  and the “Flora MacDonald’s Fancy” is a Scottish highland dance choreographed in her honour. Her act of courage has seen her transformed into the heroine of the ’45 Risings and of the Jacobite cause.

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Flora’s Grave in Skye

We hope you enjoyed this insight into Flora, obviously there is plenty more you can read about her if you wish. As always please like, tweet, share, comment and perhaps head over to Skye where Flora’s grave can still be seen in Kilmuir.

All the best, K & D