Poor - and hungry

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In Victorian times, The Children's Friend was considered suitable Sunday reading and was full of what was intended to be uplifting and "improving" reading matter for the young. There were pictures and hymns as well as informative articles on topics like "How to deal with selfishness"  and "How to cure a bad temper".  It was published annually and sold chiefly as a Sunday School prize and Christmas present.

"Be kind to the poor"

"Be kind to the poor"

An illustration from The Children's Friend of 1863


The Crust

"Waste not - want not"


I must not throw upon the floor

The crust I cannot eat,

There's many a hungry little one

Would think it quite a treat.


My parents take the kindest care

To get me wholesome food,

And so I must not waste a bit

That would do others good.


The corn from which my bread is made,

God causes it to grow;

How sad to waste what He has given:

He would both see and know.


'Tis wilful waste brings woeful want,

And I may live to say,

Oh, how I wish I had that bread

Which once I threw away.


Alex Soyer was the chef at the Reform Club in London and a friend of Florence Nightingale. He wrote a book called  A shilling cookery for the people which was published in 1861. This is his recipe for a soup suitable for giving out to poor people - there are no mistakes in copying this out - the quantities are exactly as stated by him:


2oz dripping

4 oz meat cut into 1 inch dice

4 oz onions, thinly sliced

4 oz turnips, cut into small dice ("the peel will do")

2 oz leeks, thinly sliced (the green tops will do")

3 oz celery

12 oz wholemeal flour

8 oz pearl barley

3 ox salt

Ľoz brown sugar

All boiled together in 18 pints of water.

Sufficient for 40 people


Soyer's cookbook cover

Soyer's cookbook cover


A roast goose was the centre-piece of an ordinary working-class Christmas dinner. So how could a labourer earning a few shillings a week ever afford such a luxury? The answer lay in the Goose Club to which, week by week, small instalments were paid in until there was sufficient for the purchase of a goose.

Most public houses ran a Goose Club and local bakers stayed open to cook geese for poor families on Christmas Day.



From the Kitchen Journal of Prince George, later King George II:

"On Christmas Day, 1716, a feast was prepared for the Prince including plum broth with capon, four partridges with savoury sausages, potage a la reine, sirloin of beef, mince pies*, chine of pork, turkey, woodcock, stag's tongue, plum pudding, three snipe, two pheasant, andouilles** and brawn.

His servants were fed plum pudding and loin of veal and his master chef ate a plate of mutton."


* Mince pies were then made from minced meat or chicken instead of the fruit used today

** Andouilles were sausages made from the large intestines and stomach of the pig


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