Writer, history researcher, biographer

A New Direction

Posted by Suze Appleton on Saturday, August 2, 2014 Under: progress reports
Unusual as it is to be torn away from writing about the Caribbean, I have been totally gripped by the story of a woman who lived in Manchester over 200 years ago. A series of synchronicities has led me along a trail to find out more about a woman who was a powerhouse of ingenuity and hard work. She was an entrepreneur with style at a time when women had no legal rights, so despite being in business all her married life, when she died they had so much debt that her name isn't even engraved on the family gravestone. There is a plaque to her in Manchester, on the Exchange Square wall of the Marks and Spencer building. It overlooks the area from where she began her first, of many, businesses for the people of Manchester at a time of tremendous change and expansion for the city.

Her name is Elizabeth Raffald and as a Mancunian who has lived here for most of my 60 years I am amazed that I have never come across her before. That there isn't more recognition of her work in the city is a disgrace, but it's one I hope to amend and at least inform other people about the extent of her achievements in Manchester..

In the process of finding out more about her I have visited Manchester Central library, Chethams Library, the Portico library, the People's History Museum, and met some very helpful people, some of whom knew of her, many who didn't, but I have found one place that still has her name in use, The Market Restaurant, on High St, in Manchester's Northern Quarter.

It was another interesting day on the trail of Manchester's first female cookbook author, Elizabeth Raffald. I only intended to pop into Central Library to get some prints but I stumbled upon information which led me to the Market restaurant on High St, opposite the old market. I met the owner, Gary Newborough, who knew lots about Elizabeth, having bought an original copy of her cookbook for the previous owner. No mean feat when they don't change hands for less than £1000. He also had a portrait of Elizabeth reproduced by the National Portrait gallery on canvas, the flattering, younger version. He knew about her history and her recipes, and had recreated some of them on occasion.

The best part of my visit though, was standing in the upstairs room of the restaurant, a room called, wait for it, The Elizabeth Raffald Room! It had been called that by the previous owner and Gary kept the name. It is a delightful room and Gary told me that it would have been there in the time of Elizabeth herself, only known as the King Richard lll - how exciting! To stand in a room, named after her, and know there was a slim chance that she had stood there too!

When I mentioned to Gary my idea for a Raffald menu supper to go with the talk I am preparing, he was in favour straightaway, so watch this space! Gary himself has written a book including the recipes of Elizabeth Raffald, Hannah Glasse and another Manchester contemporary, Mrs Burke. His book is available on Blurb books, it's called the Market Restaurant Cookbook.

 Next time I'll give a taste of some of the things she achieved. It's a long list.

In : progress reports 

Tags: elizabeth raffald manchester 1769 1772