Cookery and crafts at Cannon Hall

By Vicky Prior

Cannon Hall, a stately home just outside Barnsley, worked with Wayne Sables Project on a series of educational videos for young children. Each short instructional film shows a period craft or cookery recipe being made by Cannon Hall staff in appropriate historic attire. This is an exciting time to be working with Cannon Hall, as Barnsley Museums continues to expand and grow.

The Barnsley Museums expansion

Barnsley Museums comprises the main museum in the town centre, the Cooper Art Gallery nearby, and Cannon Hall just outside Barnsley. But expansion plans are well under way and soon a new museum space will open inside the Glassworks shopping development. This will host pop-up exhibitions and events that further explore Barnsley’s history. The Museums work together to deliver an education program rolled out across the entire borough. The Cannon Hall films will be used to enhance this offering.

Cannon Hall

Throughout 2021 Wayne worked with the education department at Barnsley Museums to create a series of craft and cooking guides. Each videoed guide is filmed at Cannon Hall and shows servants through the ages making recipes or craft items. The craft items are authentic to the era, although some use modern items as supplements. The recipes are all based on what would have been cooked at the hall in that period, using vegetables that would have been grown in the kitchen garden (which still exists today) and meat from animals that were reared on the property. The films offer a documentary style look into the lives of the servants as well as a how-to guide for the dish or craft. These can then be replicated in a school setting.

The films

Each film was stylised using a cinematic quality to make it look as if it had been shot on older style cameras authentic to the period. Historic costumes were worn by the characters to further give a dance of place. The craft items showcased are fun and sympathetic to the era, while the peg doll instructions use modern items, I did like the idea of using a cupcake casing as a skirt. In another video a member of the Women’s Voluntary Service, instrumental to ‘keeping the home fires burning’ in World War 2, demonstrates how to darn a sock using a wooden mushroom.

The recipes vary from sweet treats, including sugar mice and chocolate fondants, to beef stews and autumn soups. For the savoury recipes, characters are shown gathering vegetables from the kitchen garden. Sharp eyed viewers will spot a suspiciously clean and well-trimmed leek being pulled, which is a good opportunity to explain to children that vegetables in the supermarket don’t look quite the same as they do freshly harvested!

Each video is shot with a clear view of what the maid or cook is doing, often including a top down view onto the work surface. There is both a voiceover and subtitles with subtle music in the background to tie everything together. The instructions are exceptionally clear and include little nods to what life would have been like at Cannon Hall.

The footage is only available to school children in the Barnsley area however visitors to any of the Barnsley Museum venues will find a wealth of learning opportunities on display. Visit Barnsley Museums to find out more.