Mark Dawson

Location: Chesterfield, Derbyshire
About me...

I am a historian researching and writing on the history of food and drink in the early modern period. Much that is written about the history of food uses evidence from printed sources – cookery books, dietary advice books, etc. – with the resulting concentration on the wealthy and at best generalisations (often inaccurate) about the experience of those not so fortunate. My approach is to work from the ground up, using documentary evidence of everyday life to build up a picture of what was actually going on in the households of our forebears.

About my talks...

All talks are illustrated with slides presented via Powerpoint and last for up to an hour. I have my own laptop and projector and can also provide a screen, although in practice it is usually better if the venue can provide one.


Fee is £50 plus modest travelling expenses if further than 20 miles from my home in Chesterfield.

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A Saucy Tale: The history of Henderson's Relish

The not so straight forward history of Sheffield’s favourite sauce. This talk looks at the obscure origins of Henderson’s in the late 19th century as one of a number of sauces designed to pep up stodgy and unappetising food. In the twentieth century, changes of ownership and struggles with adapting to a changing world could and nearly did see Henderson’s disappear, but it has survived and indeed grown in recent years and the talk concludes my asking, is it all just a matter of taste?

The history of Derbyshire Oatcakes

A couple of hundred years ago oats were just about the only cereal grain grown in large parts of north and west Derbyshire and oatcakes were what most people ate instead of bread. Thankfully, traditional Derbyshire oatcakes are still being made. This talk looks at the history of Derbyshire oatcakes from the medieval period through to the present.

What's up with ewe? The rise and fall of English sheep's milk cheese

A thousand years ago cheese was generally made with sheep’s milk. Now it is very much a niche product in England. This talk traces the changing fortunes of sheep’s milk cheese and seeks to explain why it fell from favour, only to be revived in recent times by artisan cheese-makers.

Food and Drink in Tudor England

Forget Henry VIII and his gargantuan appetite, it’s time to have a look at what ordinary people would have been eating in Tudor times. This talk looks at the food and drink of ordinary Tudor people together with how it was cooked and how it was eaten. What contribution did different foods have to diet?
This talk is not specific to any particular area, but uses examples drawn mainly from across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Just Desserts. An alternative history of Derbyshire in 3 puds.

The history of three iconic Derbyshire puddings from their earliest origins to the present day. Includes historic recipes for you to take away and make them yourself.

Mark Dawson Contact Details:


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