Saturday, November 14, 2015

Historical Hearts Christmas Blog hop - Mistletoe and Shortbread

By Cassandra Samuels

Dear readers, your roving reporter Letitia Wellbeloved is coming to you today from Whitely Hall, home of the Lord and Lady Bellamy.

Those who have been following my progress through the stately homes will know I am visiting these various noble estates to find out their favourite Christmas traditions.

You will no doubt know all about the Scandalous Wager that brought together Lord Bellamy with the then Lady Blackhurst, better known as the infamous Black Raven. What a to-do there was about these two lovebirds. Now that Lady Bellamy has been cleared of the murder of her previous husband she spends her time tending her garden here at Whitely Hall and enjoying her baby daughter, Petunia.

The housekeeper, Mrs Rollands tells me that the family especially enjoys their Christmas visitors. Lord Bellamy welcomes his Aunt Petunia and her companion Mrs Grey and Lady Bellamy is happy to have reunited her family with her Grandmother, her sister and her family all joining them too.

Mrs Rollands tells me that Mistletoe is especially favoured by Lord Bellamy who insists it be put around the house in nearly every doorway and is one of the main decorations in the house at Christmas. He and Lady Bellamy go out and source the sprigs themselves from the orchard where it grows in some of the apple trees.

Mrs Rollands told us the tradition dates back all the way to the Druids. Apparently, dear readers, in Norse mythology it was a symbol of love and friendship which is where the tradition of kissing under it comes from but it was we British who kept up the tradition. Originally, you had to pick a berry before you could ask for your kiss and when all the berries were gone there was no more kissing. No wonder Lord Bellamy has them all over the house!

Mrs Bellows, the cook here at Whitely Hall has kindly agreed to share her shortbread recipe. I must say it is jolly good too. I may have indulged in a piece, or two.

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
Preheat oven
Cream butter and sugar
add flour and mix
Press dough into ungreased pan (9x13)
prick all over with a fork and then sprinkle over with sugar evenly.
Bake for 40-45 minutes in a moderate oven until light brown
Let it stand for 5 minutes, then cut into squares while warm.
If you want to make shapes you will have to chill the dough and roll it out.

Well, what a wonderful time I've had getting to know Lord and Lady Bellamy and their servants. I must say Lady Bellamy is nothing like what I expected and we have become firm friends during my stay here. This is Letitia Wellbeloved bidding farewell to Whitely Hall and hoping you will join me at my next stop at...

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