A Taste of the Past
A Taste of the Past

Bringing History to Life

 Taste of the Past is an independent company set up and run by Claire Passaris.  Claire studied for her master’s degree in Heritage Education and Interpretation at Newcastle University.  She has worked as an IT trainer and charity administrator, taught English in North East China as well as volunteering for the National Trust’s Chirk Castle Education department and later working for the National Trust as a house steward.  Claire has also helped a friend run a small but popular outside catering company, The Banqueting Club, until life got in the way. Under the Taste of the Past name she now runs cookery classes for adults, takes on small scale catering and gives educational presentations.  Her most recent work has been for Forty Hall in Enfield where she was given talks, demonstrations and catered a seventeenth century banquet.

Food in Late Stuart England

This 20 minute presentation is aimed at children in Year II who are studying life in the Seventeenth Century.  The acting will be done as first person interpretation with the part of Mrs. Russell played by Claire Passaris.  She will ask some of the children to take part but will endeavour to remain as much in role as is possible for the children to understand.

The aim is to show children that:

  • The general way of life was very different in the past;
  • Stuart times saw the introduction of foods we take for granted;
  • That rich and poor people ate very different diets;
  • That for the poor food had to be seasonal while the rich could afford some preservation.
  • A small number or children will be invited to participate in the scenario and to give their own opinions to their friends. 

If there is time and it is convenient I can visit individual classes after the main presentation to try and answer the children’s questions.  This will not be done in character or in costume.

The Assembly

This is set around 1660s.  Charles II is back on the throne and with stability there is a return to a more extravagant life style.  This allows for showing the new foods that were coming into the country as well as changing social mores that allowed women to take on some of the jobs previously done by men.

Mrs Russell, cook to Mr and Mrs Kirk of London, invites pupils to her kitchen.  She is looking to employ some assistants in the kitchens and hopes some of the children might be able to help her, her old kitchen hands having recently died.  She herself is really quite new to the job.  Like many women of the time she is making a new career in service.  She has a fashionable, good cook book and lots of enthusiasm.

I the “kitchen” they will look at broth and bread ready to serve to the indoor staff for their meal and see some of the of the food being made ready for a fancy supper that Mr. Mrs. Kirk will be giving later on.  A delivery from the grocer will include some very exotic ingredients for the children to explain to Mrs. Russell who hasn’t really seen them before.

They will also hear something about the still room where Mrs. Kirk would mix medicines and beauty products for her family and staff.



A number of foods will be available for the children to try.  Please look carefully at the ingredients listed below and check that none of the children are allergic to any of them.  It is the responsibility of the school and teachers to make sure A Taste of the Past knows about allergies before the assembly or workshop.  It is also the school’s and teachers’ responsibility to make sure that no child eats anything unsuitable for them.  A Taste of the Past will always provide the school with a full list of ingredients to be used in food samples before the day of the assembly or workshop.  All known allergens are listed in bold.


Ingredients:  Honey, white bread (wheat flour, (gluten), yeast, salt, sugar (unable to find full ingredients on line), powdered ginger, powdered cinnamon, powdered black pepper.

Manchet bread

White flour (wheat, (gluten,) yeast, sugar, salt).

Course, household bread

Wheat flour (Wheat, gluten),  oat meal (gluten), rye flour, yeast, salt.

Quince marmalade

Ornamental quince fruit, edible quince fruit, sugar.

There will be several other foods on display and these will change with the time of year and cost.  Please advise as soon as possible if there are any food or medical issues that A Taste of the Past should be aware of.


The cost of the assembly and presentation is £100 incluing the food samples.  This covers up to 100 children.  If there are more children then a further cost of 50p a head will be charged to cover the tasting samples for the children.  I make no charges for transport within 5 miles radius of RH1 postcodes.  Outside of that I charge 50p a mile travelling expenses.  If the London Congestion Charge or Dart Toll is incurred then this will be added onto the invoice.  Invoices will be raised before the event and payment within 10 days is much appreciated.  


A Taste of the Past is registered with Reigate and Banstead Council as a food provider and has a five star certificate of food safety.  A Taste of the Past carries full catering insurance including both public liability and product liability.


We are located at:

80 Orpin Road

Merstham, Redhill, Surrey


Contact us today!

If you have any queries or wish to book a cookery course, please contact us:


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