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'Mrs Brunel' becomes ship's domestic goddess 'Mrs Beeton'

Actress Theresa Roche will be dishing up a treat during this half-term as she becomes Mrs Beeton on board Brunel’s ss Great Britain (at 11.30am, 1.30pm and 3pm, May 30 to June 3).

‘Mrs Beeton bakes’ is part of a series of events and trails for the historic ship attraction’s ‘Let’s dine!’ theme for 2011. It also marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of the famous ‘Beeton’s Book of Household Management’ – the Victorians’ own domestic goddess.

Theresa first impressed staff and volunteers at the multi award-winning attraction when she arrived in full Victorian costume for an audition for the role of ‘Mr Brunel’. As ‘Mrs Brunel’ she wowed her audience, but lost out at the public vote stage to actor Simon Strain. The new ‘Mr Brunel’ will take up his role at Brunel’s ss Great Britain, in Bristol, for the half-term school holiday (May 28 to June 5, except June 1).

The actress will be in character and costume, and will be happy to answer visitors’ questions about Victorian cuisine and Mrs Beeton’s place in cooking history.

Other ‘Let’s dine!’ events at Brunel’s ss Great Britain in 2011 include:

  • ‘The Captain’s Table Trail’, for children aged seven and under;
  • ‘The Floating Cook’s Trail’, for children aged between eight and 12;
  • ‘Gruesome greens’, with storyteller Sarah Mooney;
  • Recipe cards on the website, for visitors to recreate Victorian dishes at home;
  • Plus major restyling and improvements to the Galley on board ship. 

Contrary to public opinion Mrs Isabella Beeton was not a matronly 60-something year old. More ‘Nigella’ than ‘Delia’, she wrote the book between the ages of 21 and 25. Isabella Beeton’s work was a publishing phenomenon, and the book included recipes as well as guidance on managing servants and budgets. 

Some favourites are still used today, whilst other recipes have not stood the test of time – with the modern palette preferring 20 minutes to 135 for boiling carrots.

Dr Kate Rambridge, the ss Great Britain Trust’s Interpretation and Informal Education Officer, said: “Visitors enjoy finding out about the ship’s history, and the lives of all those who travelled on board the ss Great Britain to New York, Sydney and Melbourne. I am certain that emigrating women of all ages would have had their own copy of ‘Beeton’s Book of Household Management’.

“Actors and actresses on board Brunel’s ss Great Britain help bring history alive to visitors of all ages. It is wonderful to watch the reaction of visitors, especially children, when they find out what Victorians used to eat including offal – which has recently been championed by celebrity chefs – and vegetables that must have been virtually tasteless.

“We very much look forward to welcoming the actress Theresa Roche on board Brunel’s ss Great Britain as Mrs Beeton.”

All events and trails are included in admission, which allows for unlimited return visits for one year. Under-fives are free.