DR ANNIE GRAY - Avis Crocombe, English Heritage and the second life of an unexpected historical hero., Morley Town Hall, Friday, 11. October 2019

Festival stalwart Annie Gray returns to Morley Arts Festival with a talk on a Victorian cook who has gone viral in the 21st century.
Avis Crocombe was the cook at Audley End House in Essex from c.1878 to 1884. She was unusual in being a woman cooking for the aristocracy, but otherwise apparently unremarkable and, as usual for working class women, left little historical trace. In 2008, English Heritage embarked upon a multi-million-pound restoration of the service wing at Audley, and brought in a crack team of costumed interpreters to bring the space to life. Six years later, they used Avis as a character for a series of YouTube videos, ‘The Victorian Way’, designed to increase awareness of the house, the organisation, and the rich history they champion.
Fast forward to 2019 and Avis has become an unexpected global internet sensation, garnering millions of hits and winning a devoted audience of very vocal super-fans. English Heritage have won awards for their approach, and Avis’s manuscript cookbook, passed down through her family for several generations, is about to be updated and published.
Annie led the costumed team at its inception, is the consultant to the videos and the author of the upcoming book. Her talk today looks at Avis’s life and times, as well as how she’s been brought back to life for a whole new audience. Expect Victorian cookery tips, flaming puddings and an unusually positive set of below-the-line comments, all delivered in Annie’s trademark witty style.
Food historian Dr Annie Gray is a writer, broadcaster and consultant, as well as a popular speaker. She’s the resident food historian on BBC Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet and a regular on the TV (The Sweetmakers, Victoria and Albert: The Royal Wedding etc). Her first book, The Greedy Queen: eating with Victoria, was published in 2017 and her latest, The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook is out in September 2019. Also forthcoming (she’s been busy) are From the Alps to the Dales: 100 years of Bettys, and Victory in the Kitchen: the story of Churchill’s Cook (Feb 2020). 

Friday, 11. October 2019, Morley Town Hall, DR ANNIE GRAY - Avis Crocombe, English Heritage and the second life of an unexpected historical hero.

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